Missing crew of Titan sub ‘cannot call for help’ unless it floats to surface

CBS report shows inner working of OceanGate’s Titanic submersible

The missing crew of the Titanic exploration submersible cannot call for help unless the vehicle floats to the surface, a submarine expert has said. Frank Owen, the former director of the Australian submarine escape and rescue project, said the vehicle used to conduct the expedition likely couldn’t launch remote distress beacons. Without these capabilities, rescuers must continue to search for the missing passengers without having a clear understanding of their current state.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live this afternoon, Mr Owen outlined the kinds of technology the Titan’s crew would have aboard the sub.

He said they would likely have radio transmitters and GPS signals, and strobe lights and radar reflectors to “help the searching forces find them”.

While these can alert rescuers, signals are currently obstructed by the miles of ocean between them and the surface.

The exact whereabouts of the Titan and its occupants are unknown, but the submersible can travel miles below the ocean surface.

The vehicle can reach a depth of 4,000 metres (2.48 miles), allowing it to theoretically sit on the same seafloor as the Titanic.

The 20th-century ship has plummeted to a similar depth since it first sank in 1912 and currently rests 3,800 metres under the Atlantic.

If it has sunk this far, experts fear, there is little rescuers can do to retrieve it.

Most ships and diving vehicles cannot reach a similar depth to the Oceangate’s sub.

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University College London Professor Alistair Greig said “very few” vessels can rival the Titan’s capabilities.

Delivering the latest update from the US Coast Guard, Captain Jamie Frederick said the five crew members had roughly 40 hours of oxygen left on the sub and that the search area now covers thousands of miles.

He said search and rescue teams are covering 7,600 square miles, an area he said was “larger than the state of Connecticut”.

Planes and ships from US and Canadian agencies have gathered approximately 900 miles east off the coast of Cape Cod and dropped sonar buoys capable of searching 13,000 feet (2.84 miles) below the surface.

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