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The Curious Case of Titanic Tourist Submersible

We’re all aware of the ill-fated RMS Titanic ship which was the largest liner at the time back in 1912. The mammoth ship could house more than 2,400 passengers along with more than 800 staff and crew members. During its first-ever voyage from England to the United States, the Titanic hit an iceberg in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean leading to catastrophic deaths. Reportedly only 712 members of the Titanic survived the wreckage which led to the ship being split into two pieces.

The wreckage wasn’t discovered until decades later in 1985 in Canadian waters. Titanic’s wreck lies 700 km south of St John’s Newfoundland.  It was back in 1997 when visionary filmmaker James Cameron brought mainstream interest to Titanic and its wreckage with his blockbuster romantic tragedy film featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Cameron himself has been to the wreckage himself around 33 times and calls it “one of the most unforgiving places on earth”.

While researchers do not have much to gain from the wreckage site itself, the immense amount of mainstream and cultural interest resulted in the foundation of OceanGate Expeditions. Private citizens curious to explore the wreckage themselves can cough up an amount of $250,000 per person to tour it. Unfortunately, one of these Titanic tourist submersibles has gone missing with five onboard passengers.

What exactly happened?

OceanGate Expeditions carried out an eight-day trip with five civilians to the Titanic wreckage in a submersible titled ‘Titan’. The trip was based out of Newfoundland with participants first traveling 400 nautical miles to the wreck site. The site is about 900 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The submersible began its two-hour descent to the wreckage site on 18th June 2023, Sunday morning. However, it lost contact with the supporting ship that transported them to the vessel site. Officials stated it was around 1 hour and 45 minutes into the descent when all contact was lost. Major search operations began later that day. However, it is not clear what happened to the submersible, how close it was to the Titanic and why it lost contact in the first place.

The identities of the five people include a pilot and four other passengers. They include Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French maritime expert, Hamish Harding, a British businessman, Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son, Suleman, along with Stockton Rush, the founder and CEO of OceanGate.

Submersible Titan was sent to explore the Titanic wreckage with 96 hours of oxygen. At the time of writing, the oxygen inside the submersible is almost over. Interestingly, Wendy Rush, the wife of the missing Titan submersible Pilot is the great-great-grandaughter of two passengers who died on the Titanic back in 1912. Deep sea exploration experts have officially stated that it would be a miracle if the Submersible is recovered with all passengers and the pilot alive, and we’re all hoping for a miracle!

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