Titan tragedy: news summary | 27 June 2023
Titan sub tragedy: news summary
Hello and welcome to AS USA's live coverage of the aftermath of the Titan submersible tragedy.
The vessel, operated by the company OceanGate Expeditions, suffered a "catastrophic implosion" over a week ago on Sunday 18 June during a dive to visit the wreckage of the Titanic, which is located some 12,500 feet (3,800m) below the surface of the North Atlantic. There were five people on board including the CEO of OceanGate, Stockton Rush.
A frantic search for the vessel last week resulted in the discovery of a debris field on Thursday a mere 1,600 feet from its destination. Multiple authorities have now opened investigations into the accident.
The US Coast Guard says the wreckage has been mapped out and the initial phase will be to recover the pieces of the Titan. Experts have warned that searchers are unlikely to recover any bodies.
Titanic survivor Frank Prentice's vivid account of 1912 sinking
A fascinating account of the 1912 Titanic disaster by a passenger who survived. Frank Prentice, then a 22-year-old storekeeper - told in his own words to the BBC in 1979.
He survived by swimming to Lifeboat 4 where he was pulled in by its occupants, mostly women and children. Frank passed away in May 1982, aged 93. He was the second-to-last member of the crew to pass away, being survived only by Sidney Edward Daniels who passed away the following year.
What is the Labrador Current?
The Labrador current is something which deep sea missions to the Titanic wreck, including the OceanGate Titan mission, would have to take into account and navigate for the weather conditions it creates and it's influence in moving icebergs southward.
The Labrador Current is surface oceanic current flowing southward along the west side of the Labrador Sea. Originating at the Davis Strait, the Labrador Current is a combination of the West Greenland Current, the Baffin Island Current, and inflow from Hudson Bay.
The current is cold and has a low salinity; it maintains temperatures of less than 32° F (0° C) - this cold water current meets the warm northward moving Gulf Stream. The combination of these two currents produces heavy fogs.
The Labrador Current is limited to the continental shelf and reaches depths only slightly greater than 2,000 feet (600 m). Its volume of water transportvaries between about 125,000,000 and 190,000,000 cubic feet (3,500,000 and 5,400,000 cubic m) per second and annually carries several thousand icebergs southward. The embedded video explains how it could have played a part in the Titanic disaster on 1912.
Gliding over the Titanic, descending to the grand staircase and seeing a crystal chandelier still hanging is a thing of immense beauty and tragedy.
It takes your breath away.
The animation, created by a Spanish company called MeatBallStudios, takes you through an immersive digital underwater scene in which you pass by multiple famous landmarks to compare to the depth of the Titanic, including the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, and the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.
Understanding the Titan tragedy
"At the time, I thought the reason was pretty dumb: Two capsule-shaped black floats, poorly tied to the sub’s launching platform, had come loose. The floats weren’t part of the sub. They’d have no effect on the dive itself. Who cared about the stupid platform? Let’s GO!
"Now, of course, it all looks different. Now, I’m sick to my stomach. Now, I feel like I won at Russian roulette. Three dives later, the Titan imploded and killed the five people onboard."
David Pogue joined OceanGate for a dive on its Titan submersible last summer. He never saw the Titanic as they only went down 37 feet below the waves when mission control aborted the dive.
Read what he calls 'unraveling the enigma of Stockton Rush'.
Titan submersible: "the most painless death"
The following clip attempts to explain to people how, from a biological point of view, the catastrophic implosion would have happened too fast for those inside to have even comprehended.
"Titanic and Titan, bad seamanship," says Cameron
A reminder of the reaction to the latest Titan tragedy by Hollywood legend James Cameron.
"Titanic is at the bottom of ocean not because of the poor technology or weak steel parts… but just because of bad seamanship.
"It’s Captain was warned that there were icebergs ahead and it was a moonless night. But he went ahead and crashed the ship.
"The same happened with OceanGate."
Netflix backlash over Titanic timing
With much of the world's focus in recent days on the tragedy that unfolded with the Titan submersible, the streaming platform Netflix has taken advantage with two rereleases.
The blockbuster movie Titanic, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, is one of those title along with a related documentary and some believe this move to be in very bad taste.
The Titan submersible had been on a voyage to the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean when it lost communication with the surface. It was enroute to visit the wreckage of the Titanic which rests 12,500 feet below the surface.
After days of searching for the missing vessel, the US Coast Guard announced on Thursday that a debris field had been discovered in the vicinity of the Titanic. It is believed that the Titan suffered a “catastrophic implosion”.
We take a look at what that means...
OceanGate Expeditions has been operating deep-ocean expeditions since 2009. Over the years it has carried out dives with three different vessels in the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico.
Titan was designed to go the deepest of them all, able to reach depths of over 13,000 feet, or 4,000 meters according to the company.
OceanGate co-founder Guillermo Söhnlein speaks to WSJ
Back in 2009 Guillermo Söhnlein and Stockton Rush co-founded OceanGate, the firm who created and operated the Titan submersible that was lost last week. Söhnlein left the company in 2013 but he was an integral part of the creation of the company and a close associate of Rush, who also perished on the fateful voyage.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Söhnlein has sat down with the Wall Street Journal...
Teenager Suleman Dawood was one of the five people who died in the Titan tragedy. Several stories have come out about why he went on the expedition even though he was said to be "terrified" of it, and his mother, Christine, has revealed that she was actually supposed to do with her husband Shahzade, who also sadly lost his life.
"It was supposed to be Shahzade and I are going down, and then I stepped back and gave the space to Suleman because he really wanted to go,” she said.
That last post may have least you wondering what on earth a 'mothership' is and why the Titan had one. AS USA's Andy Hall should be able to help you out if so.
Over the last week or so, the words 'submarine' and 'submersible' have been used interchangeably on many occasions, although there are actually some important differences between the two.
Voice recordings between the Titan and the Polar Prince to be reviewed
In the effort to discover what caused the Titan to suffer a 'catastrophic implosion', voice recordings between the submersible and its mothership, Polar Prince, will be reviewed by investigators on the Marine Board of Investigation, the highest level of investigation conducted by the US Coast Guard.
A timeline has not been laid out for the investigation but once it has been concluded, a report with evidence, conclusions and recommendations will be released.
You will perhaps not be surprised to hear that the depth at which the Titanic sits is one of the reasons bodies have never been found at its wreckage. But how can that be possible? It's estimated that around 1500 people died when the vessel went down.
One thing that the tragedy has made us aware of is just how deep the ocean is (if that's not too obvious a thing to say). This incredible video shows how far down the Titanic lies at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean but also reveals that it is far from being the deepest shipwreck, a 'title' which belongs to the USS Johnston, which went down in 1944.
You may also be shocked to know that the SS Winfield Scott, which sank in 1853, is just eight metres below sea level.
Couple drop Oceangate lawsuit after Titan tragedy
Florida couple Marc and Sharon Hagle filed a lawsuit in February against Oceangate CEO Stcokton Rush, one of five people to die aboard the Titan submersible, claiming he refused to repay the $210,000 they paid for deep-sea exploration in 2018, even after repeatedly canceling the tour.
But the couple have now dropped their lawsuit out of respect for the victims of the Titan, which imploded while exploring the wreck of the Titanic last week.
Speaking to Fox35 Orlando, they said, "Like most people around the world, we watched the coverage of the OceanGate Titan capsule with great concern and an enormous amount of sadness and compassion for the families of those who lost their lives. In light of these tragic events, we have advised our attorneys to withdraw all legal actions against Stockton"
Deep-sea tourist submersible industry under the microscope
All five people aboard the Titan, made by OceanGate Inc of Everett, Washington, were killed in an incident that launched a multinational search and captured the world's attention.
Industry experts say they were the first known fatalities in more than 60 years of civilian deep-sea submergence.
But even as industry leaders braced for increased scrutiny, they said it was difficult to forecast what sort of changes may come.
In the high seas where the Titan and other submersibles operate, there are no regulations and there is no government that controls international waters.
Professionals in this industry are sitting at home right now and holding their heads, and saying to themselves, 'What a mess, how do we explain this to the world, how do we differentiate between what most of us do and what OceanGate did?" Ofer Ketter, the president of SubMerge said.
Justin Manley, president of Marine Technology Society, said the OceanGate incident could lead to increased oversight, but that "the high seas are inherently not regulated."
Dives in international waters, where no country can impose its law, would remain unaffected.
“It’s not that the regulations would be irrelevant, but they probably wouldn’t be the biggest forcing function on the industry,” Manley said.
Titanic sub firm’s late CEO was committed to safety, says co-founder
The co-founder of OceanGate Expeditions, which owned the submersible that imploded during a dive to the Titanic wreck, defended the chief executive's commitment to safety and risk management after he died with four others on the craft.
Guillermo Söhnlein, who co-founded OceanGate with Stockton Rush in 2009, left the company in 2013, retaining a minority stake. Rush was piloting the Titan submersible on the trip that began on Sunday. Debris from the vessel was found on Thursday.
"Stockton was one of the most astute risk managers I'd ever met. He was very risk-averse. He was very keenly aware of the risks of operating in the deep ocean environment, and he was very committed to safety," Söhnlein told reporters.
Questions about Titan's safety were raised in 2018 during a symposium of submersible industry experts and in a lawsuit by OceanGate's former head of marine operations, which was settled later that year. This incident has prompted further debate.
"I believe that every innovation that he took ... was geared toward two goals: One, expanding humanity's ability to explore the deep ocean. And secondly, to do it as safely as possible," he said in an interview from his home in Barcelona.
Ibai Llanos shares his fear of claustrophobia
The highly popular Spanish Twitch star Ibai Llanos confessed that watching the Titan submersive tragedy unfold reminded him of his acute claustrophobia as he confessed to first having his first attack as a child and that he still holds a major fears of travelling in elevators.
Questions raised about unregulated expeditions
"My primary goal is to prevent a similar occurrence by making the necessary recommendations to enhance the safety of the maritime domain worldwide," Captain Jason Neubauer, the Coast Guard's chief investigator, said at a press conference in Boston.
The Coast Guard opened what it calls a marine board investigation on Friday, Neubauer said, and is working with the FBI to recover evidence, including a salvage operation at the debris site on the seabed about 1,600 feet (488 meters) from the bow of the Titanic wreck, about 2-1/2 miles (4 km) below the surface.
The findings will be shared with the International Maritime Organization and other groups "to help improve the safety framework for submersible operations worldwide," Neubauer said
US Coast Guard investigating cause of Titanic submersible implosion
The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the undersea implosion of a tourist submersible that killed all five people aboard while diving to the century-old wreck of the Titanic, officials said on Sunday. The announcement comes a day after Canada's Transportation Safety Board said it was conducting its own investigation into the implosion of the Titan, which has raised questions about the unregulated nature of such expeditions.
The ocean is "challenging" and "always changing"
You've got to have respect for the ocean. The ocean has physical forces that are totally indifferent to your sub or yourself, so you've got to be really respectful of the winds, the waves, the cold, the currents and these pressure that bend steel. This is a very difficult environment to operate in. And that's why we have these subs. It's challenging and it's always changing.
Titan and human hubris
If you haven't already seen this piece by Karen Attiah for the Post, then I highly recommend it.
As she says, 'this week has been a reminder that for all of humanity’s inventions, we cannot dominate the deep, deep sea.'
We heard the other day from the aunt of Suleman Dawood who made out that the 19-year-old "was not very comfortable" going on the Titan submersible to visit the Titanic.
Well, the young man's mother has now spoken out to clarify the situation, including the objective being aimed for.
Tragic Titan teen took Rubik's Cube on ill-fated mission
Suleman Dawood, the youngest victim of the OceanGate tragedy, wanted to achieve two life dreams - see the Titanic wreck with his own eyes and break the world record for completing the Rubik's Cube, his grieving mother Christine, told the BBC.
"I think I lost hope when we passed the 96-hours mark," she explained. "That was when I sent a message to my family on shore to say, 'I am preparing for the worse'".
The worst suspicions as to the fate of OceanGate’s Titan submersible were confirmed on Thursday when a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) discovered a debris field. The remains of the doomed vessel were located about 1,600 feet from the hull of the Titanic on the bed of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Now that the rescue mission has ceased, recovery efforts are underway to bring up the pieces of the Titan to figure out what caused a “catastrophic implosion.” To help in that endeavor the US Coast Guard said on Sunday that they will perform a Marine Board of Investigation (MBI), which is the highest level of investigation conducted by the US Coast Guard.
Chris Brown, a 61-year-old British tycoon, was one of the various potential passengers who backed out of the ill-fated journey aboard the Titan due to a lack of trust. He now asserts that he could never bring himself to do it.