Late Monday, Coast Guard officials shared details about the ongoing search for the submersible vessel that went missing while exploring the underwater Titanic wreckage.
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Rear Adm. John Mauger, the commander of the First Guard District, explained that the Coast Guard launched its search effort on Sunday immediately after learning about the missing sub.
The company OceanGate Expeditions told authorities that its sub, called Titan, failed to check in about an hour and 45 minutes into Sunday’s tour. The company also informed officials that the sub is equipped with 96 hours of sustainment capability in case of an emergency.
“We’re making the best use of every moment of that time to locate the vessel,” Mauger said, adding that “right now our capability is limited to sonar buoys and listening for sounds but we’re working very hard to increase our capability.”
While the U.S. Coast Guard is leading the search, it’s joined by the Canadian Coast Guard and military as well as commercial operators. Mauger said they’re using multiple planes and sonar buoys to search both above and below the water.
“The location of the search is approximately 900 miles east of Cape Cod in a water depth of roughly 13,000 feet. It is a remote area,” Mauger said. “And it is a challenge to conduct a search in that remote area, but we are deploying all available assets to make sure that we can rescue the craft and rescue the people on board.”
Officials described the five people aboard as a pilot and four mission specialists but declined to identify them by name. However, multiple news outlets confirmed the identity of one passenger as UK billionaire Hamish Harding.
Harding, who is a seasoned adventurer with treks to Antarctica and a record for the longest time spent at the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, posted on Instagram on Saturday that he was part of a team scheduled to see the Titanic, but they were waiting for the weather to clear.
“Due to the worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years, this mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023,” Harding wrote. He said they’d planned to depart at 4 am on Sunday.
In the post, Harding described the other mission specialists as “a couple of legendary explorers, some of which have done over 30 dives to the RMS Titanic since the 1980s including PH Nargeolet.”
Although officials are unclear about if or when the missing sub’s emergency resources kicked in, they presume they have approximately until June 21, when the crew’s emergency resources will likely be depleted.