The desperate search continues to intensify for the missing Titanic submersible that is believed to be carrying five people onboard. On Wednesday, US Coast Guard First District response coordinator, Jamie Frederick, confirmed during a press conference that more sounds were detected beneath the ocean‘s surface, prompting search crews to investigate the area further for the missing vessel.
“Several flights heard noises yesterday… the P–3 heard noises today as well. We don‘t know what the noises are, to be frank with you… they have been described as banging noises but they are inconclusive,” he said.
The vessel, which is operated by OceanGate Expeditions, lost contact with its expedition ship, the Polar Prince, at 9:45 am on Sunday and was reported as missing to the Coast Guard at 5:40 pm. The Titan is equipped to provide up to 96 hours of oxygen, which would theoretically run out on Thursday morning.
While it can‘t be confirmed that the sounds are coming from the missing submersible, it has increased the hope of the families of those on board the vessel. Jannicke Mikkelsen, a friend of the billionaire on board Hamish Harding, said in an emotional plea that she is “terrified, anxious, and not sleeping at the moment,” and warned that “we are losing time.”
The Coast Guard has now searched an area of 10,000 square miles – twice the size of the state of Connecticut – and continues to expand the search further. In addition to the five surface ships and two underwater remote–operated subs that are already at the site, five more vessels are on their way as are multiple planes in the air looking for the missing sub.
One of these vessels is HMCS Glace Bay which has a decompression chamber on board. This could potentially be used to save the five men trapped inside should they be able to surface. However, the vessel is currently only equipped to make dives up to 13,000ft – 700ft below the depth at which the Titanic is believed to be located.
Questions have been asked regarding the safety precautions and construction of the Titan in the wake of the incident. OceanGate Expeditions CEO, Stockton Rush, had previously gone on record last year to assure its safety as it had been approved by NASA, Boeing, and The University of Washington. However, all parties have since denied any involvement in the construction and testing of the sub, raising concerns about its safety.
Retired British Navy rear admiral Chris Parry said the odds of locating the vessel without an ‘emitting signal‘ were “vanishingly small“ and warned time was quickly running out for the crew trapped inside.
The only hope in this instance rests on the banging sounds that were heard coming from the depths of the ocean. Usually, divers would bang on the side of their vessel on the hour and the half-hour in an attempt to communicate with search teams above. If this is the case, it could mean the sub is closer to the surface than first thought.
Colonel Terry Virts, who called Harding “the quintessential British explorer,” stressed that the clock is ticking to find the five men onboard.
“We have much greater confidence that there is cause for hope, based on data from the field, we understand that likely signs of life have been detected at the site,” The Explorers Club said in a statement yesterday.
Search efforts will continue into the night as crews desperately scramble to locate the missing Titanic submersible.