The US Coast Guard said Thursday, June 22, that a debris field was discovered by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) within the search area for the missing submersible with five people aboard.
“Experts within the unified command are evaluating the information,” the Coast Guard said. It is unclear if this debris field is connected to the missing submersible. The Coast Guard said it plans to host a press briefing at 3 p.m. ET to “discuss findings from the Horizon Arctic’s ROV on the sea floor near the Titanic.”
The news comes as the search for the vessel has reached a “critical” stage, the co-founder of the company operating the submersible said Thursday.
The craft, run by OceanGate Explorations, submerged on Sunday at 1pm UK time (8am EST and 10pm in Sydney) around 400 miles southeast of St John’s, Newfoundland, near to the Titanic wreck. At 2.45 pm it lost contact with its mothership, the Polar Prince. But it wasn’t reported missing to the US Coast Guard until 10.40pm.
The family of a missing British billionaire have slammed the company behind the Titan submersible for waiting eight hours before raising the alarm when it went missing.
Kathleen Cosnett, a cousin of UK businessman Hamish Harding, 58, who was on the sub, said the delay before contacting the authorities was ‘far too long’. She told the Telegraph: ‘It’s very frightening. It took so long for them to get going to rescue them, it’s far too long. I would have thought three hours would be the bare minimum.’
Banging has been heard at 30 minute intervals from the depths of the Atlantic, possibly from the men striking the side of the sub but it has not yet been located.
Today, Rear Admiral John Mauger, of the US Coast Guard, said the operation ‘remains an active search’ and he ‘remains hopeful’ thanks to ‘favourable’ weather conditions. Asked about the banging noises, he said initial analysis suggested they were ‘background ocean noise’ but this was still being examined.
Those stuck onboard the sub also include OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, French navy veteran PH Nargeolet and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, who is just 19 and a student at Strathclyde University.
A deep water robot sub has reached the Atlantic floor – and another is descending the 12,500ft of ocean fast. ‘The Canadian vessel Horizon Arctic has deployed an ROV that has reached the sea floor and began its search for the missing sub’, a spokesman said.
And a French ship viewed as the best and final hope of finding the missing Titanic submersible has also dropped its remote-controlled sub to find five missing adventurers. L’Atalante arrived on the scene at 11.48am GMT (7.48 EST) and has deployed Victor 6000, which can reach depths of 20,000ft.
Despite fears their oxygen supplies have run out, there is still hope in the most desperate of situations. Experts believe that the 96-hour oxygen supply number is an imprecise estimate and could be extended if those on board have taken measures to conserve breathable air including lying still and even sleeping.
Guillermo Sohnlein founded OceanGate with Mr. Rush in 2009 and believes that the window for finding them could go beyond the US Coast Guard’s prediction. He said: ‘Today will be a critical day in this search and rescue mission, as the sub’s life support supplies are starting to run low.
‘I’m certain that Stockton and the rest of the crew realised days ago that the best thing they can do to ensure their rescue is to extend the limits of those supplies by relaxing as much as possible. I firmly believe that the time window available for their rescue is longer than what most people think. I continue to hold out hope for my friend and the rest of the crew’.
Speaking today to Sky News, Rear Admiral John Mauger confirmed the initial reports suggesting the noise heard by sonar buoys was ‘background ocean noise’.
‘We’ve taken that information and shared it with top leading experts from the US Navy and the Canadian Navy, and they’re working on the analysis of that information, they’re continuing to work on the analysis of that information,’ he said.
‘The initial reports is that there’s a lot of the sounds that were generated were from background ocean noise, but they continue to … look for all available information there.
‘What’s important to me, and what’s important as the unified command, is that we’ve continued search in the areas where noise was detected with the ROVs that we have from the time of that detection, so we’re not waiting for this analysis to take action.
‘The analysis is really helpful to our overall search-and-rescue efforts, but we’re not waiting on it, we’ve moved the remote operated vehicles that we’ve had on site to those areas where noise was detected.’