‘Race against time’ as desperate search continues for missing ‘Titanic sub’


The missing submersible is operated from the inside by a single button, is about the size of a minivan and costs US$250,000 for a ride.

A submersible carrying five passengers to see the wreck of the Titanic was reported missing Monday morning—a vessel that’s been described as “experimental,” is operated by a single button and made its first successful dive to the shipwreck in 2021.

Key Takeaways
  • The subversive was designed and is run by OceanGate Expeditions, an ocean exploration company founded in 2009 with a fleet of submersibles intended to help tourists experience deep-sea diving.
  • The vessel, called the Titan, can dive more than 13,000 feet and carries five people to the Titanic wreck off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, and has been on successful trips in 2021 and 2022, according to the company’s website.
  • In 2022, CBS reporter David Pogue ventured on the Titan to see the Titanic—he had to sign a waiver before diving that said the submersible was “experimental” and “had not been approved by any regulatory body.”
  • Inside, the 22-foot-long submersible is about the size of a minivan, Pogue reported, and has a single porthole at one end through which passengers can view the wreckage.
  • The Titan is operated from the inside by a single round button that turns from red to green when pushed: “It should be like an elevator,” CEO Stockton Rush told Pogue in 2022, adding: “It shouldn’t take a lot of skill.”
  • Later in the video, Rush points to some piping inside the vessel saying he purchased it from RV supplier Camping World, and says “we run the whole thing” using a video game controller—Pogue also shows the vessel uses construction pipes as ballast.
  • Rush clarifies the pressure vessel, which maintains pressure and air quality to sustain human life miles under the sea, is “not macgyvered at all” and is developed with the help of Boeing and NASA.
  • Forbes reached out to OceanGate for comment.


Key Background

OceanGate has been attempting missions since at least 2017, and successfully reached the Titanic wreck for the first time in 2021, and then again in 2022. It has 18 expeditions planned starting this summer of 2023, according to its website. Missions take approximately 10 days, eight of which are at sea, and cost passengers $250,000 each.

The five-person expeditions usually include three paying passengers, along with two crew members to lead the group.  The only known passenger among the five currently missing is Hamish Harding, a British businessman and aviator whose family confirmed he was on the expedition Monday.

In social media posts Sunday, Harding said the group had reached the spot above the Titanic and planned to dive at 4 a.m. Monday morning. This week’s expedition was “likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023” because Newfoundland experienced a historically bad winter, Harding said on Instagram.

“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. A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow,” Harding wrote.

A search and rescue crew was dispatched Monday morning after the group was reported missing.

This is a developing story. More to come.

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