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Submarine Aiming to Visit Titanic Goes Missing

In this photo released by Action Aviation, the submersible Titan is prepared for a dive into a remote area of the Atlantic Ocean on an expedition to the Titanic on Sunday, June 18, 2023. (Action Aviation via AP)
Submarine Aiming to Visit Titanic Goes Missing
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Rescuers are racing Tuesday to find a missing submarine in the northern Atlantic Ocean before the oxygen supply runs out for five people inside.

The submarine Titan was on a mission to document the wreckage of the Titanic, a huge passenger ship that sank in 1912.

The submarine’s Canadian support ship, the Polar Prince, reportedly lost contact with the vehicle about one hour and 45 minutes after it started its dive on Sunday.

Rescuers with Canada’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center said they are searching in an area about 700 kilometers south of St. John’s, Newfoundland. People involved said the search is urgent because the small submersible has only a 96-hour supply of oxygen. They estimate the oxygen supply could run out on Thursday morning.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that the Polar Prince was 690 kilometers southeast of St. John’s early Tuesday. Another ship, the Deep Energy, was nearby, possibly assisting in the search. Canadian and U.S. Coast Guard aircraft are also involved.

Rear Admiral John Mauger, a commander for the U.S. Coast Guard said, “It is a remote area—and it is a challenge to conduct a search in that remote area.”

FILE - This undated photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions in June 2021 shows the company's Titan submersible. On Monday, June 19, 2023, a rescue operation was underway. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP, File)
FILE - This undated photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions in June 2021 shows the company's Titan submersible. On Monday, June 19, 2023, a rescue operation was underway. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP, File)

OceanGate Expeditions said those aboard reportedly include British businessman Hamish Harding, Pakistani-born Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman. Also, reportedly on the vehicle were 77-year-old French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Stockton Rush, the chief of OceanGate Expeditions. However, officials have not confirmed who was on the Titan.

CBS News reporter David Pogue traveled aboard the Titan last year. He said the submarine uses two communication systems: text messages and safety sounds called pings every 15 minutes to let the support ship know that it is still working.

Both of those systems stopped about an hour and 45 minutes after the Titan went underwater.

“There are only two things that could mean. Either they lost all power or the ship developed a hull breach and it imploded instantly,” Pogue told CBC on Tuesday.

Alistair Grieg is a professor of marine engineering at University College London. He said if there were problems in the middle of the dive, the pilot would have released weights so the vehicle would float to the surface. But, without operating communications, it would be very hard to find a small vehicle in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Titanic shipwreck, which the pilot and passengers were aiming to visit, rests at a depth of about 3,800 meters.

I’m Mario Ritter Jr.

Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this report for VOA Learning English from Associated Press and Reuters sources.


Words in This Story

remote –adj. far away from civilization or from land

challenge –n. a difficult job or task

conduct –v. to plan or do an activity that is complex

breach –v. to make a hole or opening in something that is normally enclosed

implode –v.­­ to collapse inwardly; to be crushed


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