Time is running out for the crew aboard the Submersible on the Titanic shipwreck expedition with a ticking time lapse said to be less than 20 hours before they ran out of oxygen.
The over $200,000 per person Submersible is believed to be stack on the Ocean floor or bobbing at the surface.
According to John Mauger from the US Coast Guard, the sub lost contact on Friday after about 1 and a half hours into its dive-in at the Atlantic Ocean carrying 5 tourists, including Hamish Harding, a 58-year-old British billionaire businessman and explorer.
A rescue operation was launched on Sunday morning to find the sub, Tour firm OceanGate confirmed that all options were being explored to rescue the five people onboard.
The initial estimate for the emergency oxygen was 96 hours, but experts say, various factors make it difficult to determine the exact amount of time remaining. The lack of oxygen is a pressing concern and adds urgency to the search and rescue efforts.
There is a glimmer of hope as reports of “banging” noises picked up by the rescue team suggest that it may be a regular sound produced by a human source aboard the missing craft. A retired French diver, who would know the protocol to alert search teams, is believed to be on board and may be responsible for the banging signals.
Rescuers are using buoys fitted with microphones to pinpoint the location of the sounds and narrow down the search area. They say, the next step will be to deploy a remotely operated vehicle equipped with sonar and cameras to locate the Titan.
However, there are significant challenges ahead. If the submersible is on the sea floor, it is likely to be entangled, possibly by wreckage from the Titanic. The Remotely operated vehicle has the capability to move wreckage using robotic arms, but the success of this operation depends on the extent of the entanglement and the orientation of the Titan. It is worth noting that in previous undersea rescue attempts, similar banging signals have been proven to be spurious, such as in the case of the Argentinian submarine, ARA San Juan, in 2017.
While hopes of a rescue have slightly risen, there are still numerous uncertainties and challenges. The time constraint is another added pressure to locate and rescue the crew as the emergency oxygen supply is due to run out in just over 24 hours. Every moment counts in the race against time to save the lives of those aboard the Titanic submersible.
Titanic’s wreck lies approximately 700km south of St John’s, Newfoundland, though the rescue mission is being run from Boston, Massachusetts.
The missing craft is believed to be OceanGate’s Titan submersible, a truck-sized sub that holds five people and usually dives with a four-day emergency supply of oxygen.