Debris Found Near Titanic Wreckage — Passengers On Lost Submersible Presumed Dead

Anna Garrison - Author

Jun. 22 2023, Updated 3:57 p.m. ET

The tragic sinking of the passenger liner, the RMS Titanic, has been memorialized in history. Now, a second tragedy is forever associated with the ship: on June 18, 2023, a tourist submersible called the Titan intended to view the wreckage of the Titanic went missing.

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Unfortunately, the crew of the Polar Prince research ship, which had been monitoring the expedition, lost contact with the submersible one hour and 45 minutes later, according to the U.S. Coast Guard on June 19.

The Coast Guard discovered debris associated with the Titan on June 22, 2023, indicating it imploded, per CBS News. Keep reading for everything we know so far.

Footage of the submersible Titan in November 2022 during a CBS News feature.
Source: CBS News/YouTube
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The U.S. Coast Guard has discovered debris attributed to the lost submersible touring the wreckage of the Titanic.

The U.S. Coast Guard teamed up with the U.S. Navy, Rescue Coordination Center Halifax, a P8 Poseidon aircraft, and the Canadian military to search the waters for the missing submersible, they announced on June 19.

The submersible is owned by OceanGate Expeditions and was part of an eight-day journey based out of Newfoundland, Canada. According to CNN, the Titanic wreckage is located 13,000 feet below the surface, southeast of Newfoundland.

On June 21, Canadian aircraft detected "underwater noises" in the search area, prompting the U.S. Coast Guard to redirect their searches by remotely operated vehicles, but so far, a statement from the Coast Guard said the effort "yielded negative results," according to NBC News.

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On June 22, CBS News reported that the U.S. Coast Guard, via remote operated vehicle, discovered five major pieces of debris near the Titanic wreckage that indicated a "catastrophic implosion" killing all five people on board.

"The debris is consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber," Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger said.

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Who was on the Titan submersible?

The small, 21-foot vessel only carried five passengers. According to the U.S. Coast Guard press briefing, the Titan held one pilot and four "mission specialists."

CBS News reported that upon the discovery of the debris, families of the passengers were immediately notified. However, it is currently unclear if the victims can be recovered, says Mauger.

Among the passengers was Hamish Harding, a British businessman from the United Arab Emirates, who first announced his trip on his company's Facebook page.

Diver Paul-Henri (P.H.) Nargeolet was confirmed to be onboard by his family to NBC News on June 20. He led previous expeditions to the Titanic wreckage.

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According to BBC News, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Sulaiman Dawood were also aboard the vessel. Dawood was a trustee of the Seti Institute and vice-chairman of the Engro Corporation.

Additionally, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush was confirmed to be onboard the Titan as reported by The Seattle Times on June 20.

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What was the cost of the Titanic submarine tour?

OceanGate Expeditions has previously conducted expeditions to the site in 2021 and 2022, as their website advertises. According to NPR, each seat on the ship costs $250,000.

An older version of OceanGate's website reveals that submersibles have "some basic emergency medical supplies and 96 hours of life support."

However, there is another reason many are concerned about the safety of the passengers. CBS News correspondent David Pogue, who embarked on the OceanGate Expeditions in November 2022, revealed that the hatch was sealed from the outside with 17 bolts and no other way out.

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Many are calling into question the safety of the ship after it previously went missing for two and a half hours.

Pogue also noted several alarm points in his voyage. Some parts of the submersible were "off-the-shelf components" and one of its interior lights was even purchased from a company called CamperWorld.

Stockton Rush was present for Pogue's tour and explained that the vessel was controlled with a modified Logitech game controller.

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The inside of the submarine was very cramped, with only a bottle for a toilet. Pogue said the Titan appeared to have a "MacGyver jerry-riggedness," but Rush disagreed, claiming the Titan was crafted by consulting Boeing and NASA. Rush added, "Everything else can fail. Your thrusters can go, your lights can go, you're still going to be safe."

During Pogue's expedition, he also noted that the control room lost contact with the Titan for roughly three hours due to technical difficulties, per NPR.

This article, originally published on June 20, 2023, has been updated.

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