D-Day for missing Titanic sub: Vessel to run out of oxygen at 12.08pm

D-Day for missing Titanic sub as clock ticks down to 12.08pm – when vessel will run out of oxygen: US Coast Guard’s stark warning as desperate hunt for five-man crew including British billionaire trapped onboard enters its final hours

  • READ MORE:  Titanic tourist submarine missing LIVE: ‘This is still a search and rescue mission’, says US Coast Guard as flotilla converges on Titanic wreck site

Oxygen on the missing Titanic submersible is expected to run out by the end of this morning.

Rescue efforts to find the five people on board have continued overnight – and are becoming ever more desperate – with just hours to pinpoint ‘banging’ from the deep and save them.

The vessel, named Titan, lost communication with tour operators on Sunday while about 435 miles south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic off the coast of Canada. The last ‘ping’ of its homing device was heard on Sunday afternoon – directly above the world’s most famous seawreck.

Those stuck onboard, dubbed the Titan Five, includes British billionaire Hamish Harding, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, French navy veteran PH Nargeolet and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman.

As of Wednesday afternoon it was said that just 20 hours of oxygen remained in the vessel, meaning it would run out at some point on Thursday morning. Experts have said those inside will be trying to minimise their breathing to preserve the remaining supplies.

Above the Titanic is a flotilla of ships and aircraft scanning the Atlantic for any sign of Titan as sonar continues to hear a banging noise from the depths. But the Coastguard has admitted it does not know if it is the five men hammering on the side of their sub or simply the sound of the sea including perhaps debris falling from the Titanic itself at 12,500ft below the surface.

The great final hope is French research vessel L’Atalante, which arrived in the search zone around 2am this morning. It is carrying the Victor 6000 – a robot sub that can reach depths of 20,000ft. 

It has arms that can cut cables – or dislodge a trapped or stranded vessel – and may be able to fix a cable onto the sub before it is hauled to the surface by a giant winch called a Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System. One of these is believed to be on a ship called the Horizon Arctic, which left Newfoundland yesterday and is racing to the area but will not arrive until later today.

Rescue teams still hope that the Titan is intact and the men are still alive due to banging noises being heard. Oisin Fanning has been on board the Titan sub twice. He told BBC Breakfast this morning: ‘There are no noises down there. There are no noises on the Titanic – no banging, no nothing. So the likelyhood is that it is someone tapping every 30 minutes to indicate where they are’. 

A countdown has now begun with the vital oxygen supply expected to run out at 7.08am US eastern time (12.08pm GMT, 9.08pm Sydney), a US Coast Guard spokeswoman has said. 

The area of ocean is teeming with boats and equipment trying to find the sub missing sub 

The pilot of a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora maritime surveillance aircraft of 14 Wing flies a search pattern for the missing OceanGate submersible

The Titan, a tourist submersible which runs $250,000 tours of the doomed Titanic ship and is operated by OceanGate Expeditions, has been underwater since 8am on Sunday with five people on board 

Victor 6000 is a French unmanned ROV that is deployed to search for the sub can reach depths of 20,000ft

Five people are onboard, including British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding

Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman are also on board, along with British billionaire Hamish Harding 

French Navy veteran PH Nargeolet (left) is in the sub along with Stockton Rush (right), CEO of the OceanGate Expedition

The announcement has painted a bleak picture for those trapped inside the stranded vessel, but officials have continued to insist that the hunt is ‘100 per cent’ still a search and rescue mission. 

Rescuers including the USCG, British Navy and French and Canadian teams are picking up the pace ahead of as the window of rescue narrows.

READ MORE: Mission impossible? International rescue team of ultra high-tech submersibles, jets and ships search for Titanic Five

Rescuers are refusing to give up hope, US Coastguard Captain Jamie Frederick insisted on Wednesday, even as people around the world count down the hours until oxygen is expected to run out on the vessel.

‘We have to remain optimistic and hopeful when we are in a search and rescue case.

‘If we continue to search, potentially we could be at that point… And that’s a discussion we will have with the families long before I am going to discuss here publicly.’

According to OceanGate, Titan’s operator, the sub has a 96-hour oxygen supply in case of emergencies. 

Search and rescue teams are racing against time as they scour an area where noises were detected for the missing Titan sub, with experts saying they are continuing to analyse the sounds in the sea. 

The only possible trace of the vessel which is continuing to be investigated was underwater ‘banging’ sounds, which were detected yesterday in the search for the missing Titanic submersible.

But, the US Navy experts analysing the sounds said they cannot yet conclude whether they are coming from the stranded vessel, and ROVs were continuing to return negative results from under the sea. 

As time runs out, more equipment is expected to arrive as late as Thursday morning, including more remote operated vehicles (ROV) to detect noise as planes continue to scour the ocean from above. 

Private groups who had offered their help to the rescue mission as early as Monday were allegedly not authorised to help until Wednesday night, sources also told MailOnline.

Rescuers are now embarking on a last-ditch attempt to find the tiny vessel in a huge expanse of water, with the search area expanded to around 14,000 square miles – twice the size of the state of Connecticut.

Timeline (British Summer Time) of the search for the Ocean Gate submersible, if Titan has lost its power the crew will be in complete darkness facing temperatures of 3C

The 21ft submersible has an oxygen supply of up to 96 hours 

Victor 6000 is connected to the ship by an electromechanical cable which is 26,250ft long and supplies 20 kW of power

At a press conference at the US Coast Guard Station in Boston – which is coordinating the search and rescue effort – First District Response Coordinator Capt. Jamie Frederick said it was not certain the sub could be saved

The time pressure is compounded by the fact that the underwater vehicles may be able to pinpoint Titan, which was headed for the Titanic wreckage 12,500ft below the surface, but it will take additional specialized tools for the mammoth task of bringing it up.

Hopes of a recovery were raised slightly on Wednesday when a Canadian P-3 aircraft equipped with sonar detected the periodic ‘banging’ sound.

The P-3 is one of several models of aircraft which are also helping the search by scouring the ocean surface and using sonar equipment for signs of activity on the seabed.

A range of military and commercial vessels is also at the site, offering a mixture of search capabilities, communications tools and rescue equipment if Titan is found.

Ultimately, it is down to the submersibles to get eyes on Titan if it remains on the seabed – or trapped within the Titanic’s wreckage.

Sean Leet, co-founder of Horizon Maritime Services, the company which owns Titan’s mothership Polar Prince, said on Wednesday that he has never seen advanced search ‘equipment of that nature move that quickly’.

The family of the missing Titan sub tourists, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman, gathered above the water on Wednesday where the vessel was last seen. 

A family source in Karachi, Pakistani, where Mr Dawood is from, released a new picture of the father and son to MailOnline and said: ‘I can tell you that Mrs Dawood and her daughter are currently in the search area at the moment and will remain there for as long as they can.

Sulaiman Dawood, 19, who is missing on board the sub is pictured with his mother Christine

Among those taking part in the expedition is billionaire Hamish Harding (pictured), CEO of Action Aviation in Dubai. He excitedly posted to social media about being there on Sunday

‘Naturally this is a very tough time for the family and they’re not coping at all well with the situation, they are drawing strength from each other and hoping and praying for the best.

‘The messages of support they are getting from all around the world are also keeping them positive and they are grateful for everyone’s kind thoughts and wishes.’

‘It’s not clear what it was that made Mr Dawood want to go and visit the Titanic with his son, but he is driven by a passion of exploration, and I understand this was something that had been planned for some time.’

The Dawoods belong to one of Pakistan’s most prominent families. Their eponymous firm invests across the country in agriculture, industries and the health sector.

Their family, including Shahzada’s wife Christine and daughter Alina, are waiting for news of the pair.

The passengers onboard Titan include British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush. 

In a heartbreaking plea, one of Mr Harding’s close friends Jannicke Mikkelsen warned ‘we are losing time’.

The panicked friend told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday: ‘I’m nervous. I’m sick to my stomach with nerves. I’m terrified, I’m anxious. I’m not sleeping at the moment. I’m just hoping for good news. Every single second, every single minute feels like hours.’

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