St. John’s Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
The sun rises over St. John’s Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, as the search continues for the missing OceanGate Expeditions submersible, which is carrying five people to explore the Titanic wreck, June 22, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: It has been a story of hope - for humanity, for five missing crew on board the submersible, for the families that are praying for their loved ones.

Days after a submersible went missing near the Titanic wreck 4km below the Atlantic Ocean, a multinational mission renewed its efforts to find the five-member crew on Thursday, despite fears the vessel’s oxygen may already have run out.

Reports of a debris field being found near the Titanic have added a new dimension to the search.

“People’s will to live really needs to be accounted for as well. And so we’re continuing to search and proceed with rescue efforts,” US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger said.

The pilot of a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora maritime surveillance aircraft of 14 Wing flies a search pattern for the missing OceanGate submersible, which had been carrying five people to explore the wreck of the sunken SS Titanic, in the Atlantic Ocean off Newfoundland, Canada June 20, 2023 in a still image from video.
The pilot of a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora maritime surveillance aircraft of 14 Wing flies a search pattern for the missing OceanGate submersible, June 20, 2023, in a still image from video. Image Credit: REUTERS

On board the 6.5-metre submersible, Titan, are UAE-based British billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani tycoon Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, who also have British citizenship, OceanGate Expeditions CEO Stockton Rush, and a French submarine operator Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

Sidonie Nargeolet, the daughter of oceanographer Henri Nargeolet, one of the five people inside the submersible missing near the wreck of the Titanic, said she continued to hope they will be rescued but said she is comforted by the knowledge that her father is in the place he loved most.

Sidonie Nargeolet told Reuters on Thursday she was living with “a lot of stress, very mixed emotions”. “At times, I have a lot of hope, I am fine, I believe and have a lot of hope. But in others, hope goes away and it is hard to endure, and as more time goes by it gets harder,” Nargeolet, 39, told Reuters in the town of La Massana, in the European microstate of Andorra where she lives.

Read more

It is this hope that has made multiple planes scour the surface of the ocean. This same hope has brought a large number of experts and a fleet of search ships about 1,450km east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with two more unmanned subs deployed – including a French unmanned robot able to search at depths of up to 6,000 metres below water.

Vessels carrying medical staff and a decompression chamber are en route to the area.

Sounds from under the water on Wednesday raised hopes that the passengers on the small tourist craft are still alive, though experts have not been able to confirm their source.

This handout image taken during the historical 1986 dive, courtesy of WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) and released February 15, 2023 shows the Titanic bow. Image Credit: AFP

Scientists, while remaining realistic about the chances of finding the Titan on the vast ocean floor, are still offering a glimmer of hope.

Jamie Pringle, an expert in forensic geosciences at Keele University in the United Kingdom, was quoted by AP as saying the first 24 hours are critical in these kinds of rescue operations and that time period has long passed.

“So there’s always a chance. It’s never zero. But I think obviously the longer the time elapses, the lower the chance of success,” he said.

The Titan’s voyage this month was one of several missions the submersible took to the Titanic’s wreck site in recent weeks.

Titanic submersible
Image Credit: Gulf News

The entire expedition began in early May in St. John’s, Newfoundland in Canada and was expected to last until the end of June, according to documents filed in a federal court in Virginia that oversees matters involving the Titanic shipwreck.

Each mission lasted eight days, but it was not clear how many missions had taken place before the fateful trip – or how many were scheduled to occur afterward. Eighteen total dives were planned.

An Instagram photo posted by OceanGate Expeditions, the undersea exploration company that commanded the Titan’s missions, showed a group of smiling people labelled as “our Mission 3 and Mission 4 crew” at sea just days before the Titan vanished on Sunday – the first day of its latest voyage.

- with inputs from agencies