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The 48 seconds ‘of horror’ aboard the Titan

According to a submarine expert, the Titan likely had an electrical failure and lost stability, which caused it to drop to the bottom of the ocean.

According to a submarine expert, the Titan likely had an electrical failure and lost stability, which caused it to drop to the bottom of the ocean.
OceanGate Expeditions

On the morning of 18 June, 2023, the submersible Titan lost contact with its mothership on the surface. The vessel was on an expedition to visit the ruins of the famous Titanic, located at a depth of more than 12,000 feet in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, the five passengers of the submersible died as a result of a catastrophic implosion.

The lead investigator during the search for the Titan held a difficult press conference where he explained how the rescue mission turned into a recovery one.

The 48 seconds ‘of horror’ aboard the Titan

The Titan’s probable last few seconds

What was the likely chain of events that led to the tragedy? Submarine expert and merchant marine José Luis Martín spoke to media organization Nius to explain what he believes could have happened during the Titan’s dive.

According to Martín, the submersible was descending calmly when, at a depth of about 5,500 feet, it lost stability due to an electrical failure and quickly plunged to the bottom of the ocean in a vertical position, “as if it were a stone and without any control”, for about 3,000 feet. The Titan eventually imploded between 8.200 and 8.900 feet deep due to the pressure of the millions of gallons of water around it.

“The starting point is that the submarine is descending without any incident and in a horizontal plane until it reaches… about 1,700 meters (5,500 feet). At that point there is an electrical failure. It is left without an engine and without propulsion. That’s when it lost communication with the Polar Price,” Martín told Nius.

Passengers’ weight destabilizes submersible

“The Titan changes position and falls like an arrow vertically, because the 400 kilos (880 pounds) of passengers that were at the porthole unbalance the submarine. Everyone rushes and crowds on top of each other. Imagine the horror, the fear and the agony. It had to be like a horror movie,” continues the expert, who believes that everything happened between 48 and 71 seconds of free fall.

During that time, according to Martin, the passengers were aware of the gravity of the situation.

“In that period of time they are realizing everything. And what’s more, in complete darkness. It’s difficult to get an idea of what they experienced in those moments. After those 48 seconds, or one minute, the implosion and instantaneous sudden death occur,” says the expert.

Immediate death for all passengers

The big problem after the electrical failure was that, according to Martín, all the passengers crowded in front of the submarine’s porthole, which caused it to destabilize even more: “With the lack of propulsion, the weight of the passengers and the pilot, which were concentrated in the front part near the porthole, unbalanced the longitudinal stability.”

By descending so abruptly, the submarine was subjected to a sudden increase in pressure and there was “a strong compression of the vessel”. The pressure caused “an instantaneous contraction of the resistant hull, resulting in a loss of volume in the order of 70% to 80%”.

According to Martin’s theory, the death of the passengers was immediate.