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Missing Titanic Sub: Banging Sounds Heard as Oxygen Dwindles

Missing Titanic Sub
The submersible with five people on board went missing during a dive to the Titanic wreckage. Credit: OceanGate Expeditions

As the search continues for the missing Titanic sub in the North Atlantic with five people onboard, sonar picked up banging sounds on Tuesday from underneath the water.

According to an internal US government memo on the search, crews detected banging sounds every 30 minutes – and four hours later, after additional sonar devices were deployed, banging was still heard,

“Additional acoustic feedback was heard and will assist in vectoring surface assets and also indicating continued hope of survivors,” a later update reads.

The report comes amid a multinational race against time to find the submersible and its five passengers before their oxygen runs out.

Massive search for missing Titanic sub

As the massive search stretched into its third day, more ships and aircraft have joined the mission.

A spokesperson for the US Navy said, according to CNN, that the military is sending  experts and a “Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System” to help in the rescue mission for the commercial submersible, which disappeared Sunday morning and as of Tuesday night, had just over 30 hours of oxygen left.

The submersible, known as “Titan,” was carrying one pilot and four “mission specialists” when it lost contact with its mother ship about 1 hour and 45 minutes into its descent, authorities said. Titan is roughly the size of a minivan and is equipped with repurposed everyday items, including a video game controller used to steer.

British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman are on board, along with British billionaire explorer Hamish Harding.

Submersible vehicles will occasionally take tourists underwater to visit the wreckage of the famous Titanic. The supposedly “unsinkable” Titanic infamously sank in 1912 leading to the deaths of more than 1,500 people.

Hope decreases with each passing day

Hope that the missing submersible will be found on the ocean’s surface decreases with each passing day, Prof Stefan Williams, University of Sydney director digital sciences initiative, told The Guardian.

The best case scenario is that the sub has had a malfunction of its communication and tracking equipment and has made its way back to the surface, he said.

If it is floating on the surface, and the aerial survey and ships in the vicinity can find it in the next day or so, then they would seek to open the sub and free the crew.

However, Williams says this outcome is not guaranteed.

Given that it is now well beyond the sub’s intended dive time and that searches have been underway for several days, this scenario is looking increasingly unlikely.

There is still some hope that the submersible will be found on the surface, but it decreases with each passing day.

A lack of evidence of the sub on the surface means it is possible that it has suffered a catastrophic failure of one of its systems, Williams said.

“This might include the complete failure of the pressure vessel housing the crew or potentially some other failure of the submersible’s systems which has prevented them from surfacing.”

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