Debris of missing submersible was found near the bow of the Titanic on sea floor with all on board lost, official says.
The Titan submersible that has been missing for days in the Atlantic Ocean with five men on board suffered a “catastrophic loss” consistent with the implosion of the vessel, the US Coast Guard has said.
A remote-controlled robot (ROV) found the debris off the bow of the Titanic, the century-old shipwreck that was the intended destination of the expedition.
The submersible which had been missing since Sunday sparked a massive search spanning thousands of miles of the North Atlantic ocean, pulling in US and Canadian agencies as well as other international assistance.
OceanGate the company that owns the vessel had announced Thursday those on board, four tourists and the company’s CEO, who was piloting the craft, had died.
“We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost,” the company said in a statement.
Dawood is a Pakistani-British businessman; his son is 19. Harding is a British billionaire. Gargeolet is a 77-year-old French explorer.
“These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans. Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time,” OceanGate said on Thursday.
US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger told reporters on Thursday that an ROV first found the tail cone of the sub about 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the bow of the Titanic and later found pieces consistent with a “catastrophic loss of the pressure” in the vessel.
“Upon this determination, we immediately notified the families,” Mauger said.
“On behalf of the United States Coast Guard and the entire unified command, I offer my deepest condolences to the families. I can only imagine what this has been like for them. And I hope that this discovery provides some solace during this difficult time.”
Mauger suggested that the undersea noises detected earlier in the week, which offered a glimmer of hope for rescuing the sub’s crew, were not related to the vessel. He said the Titan’s implosion would have produced a “significant broadband sound” that sonar buoys used by search crews would have picked up.
The days-long multinational search for the sub had captured the world’s attention and drew contrast between the efforts made to rescue the five men on-board versus what advocates describe as global indifference to refugees who drown in the Mediterranean.
The OceanGate expedition costs $250,000 per person. Its trip starts in St John’s in the Canadian province of Newfoundland before heading out to the Titanic wreckage site hundreds of kilometres to the southeast, the company’s website shows.
Dik Barton, a veteran Titanic explorer, told Al Jazeera earlier on Thursday that deep sea expeditions are dangerous operations.
“It’s a perilous place to go – dangerous, inhospitable, hostile,” Barton said. “And the circumstance at which this vessel disappeared was extremely odd.”
He added that it was “crucial” to find the vessel even if hopes of finding survivors diminish.
“Post-event, there’s going to be a massive inquiry, and I’m sure legislation and regulation [will] become tighter and more scrutinising.”
Mauger, of the US Coast Guard, acknowledged that there are questions swirling around how an incident like this could occur.
“This is something that happened in a remote portion of the ocean with people from several different countries around the world,” he said. “And so it is a complex case to work through, but I’m confident that those questions will begin to get answered.”