Deep-sea craft carrying 5 people to Titanic wreckage reported missing, search underway

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger, commander of the First Coast Guard District, speaks to the media, Monday, June 19, 2023, in Boston. A search is underway for a missing submersible that carries people to view the wreckage of the Titanic. Canadian officials say the five-person submersible was reported overdue Sunday night about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John's, Newfoundland and that the search is being led by the U.S. Coast Guard. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A rescue operation was underway deep in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean on Monday in search of a technologically advanced submersible vessel carrying five people to document the wreckage of the Titanic, the iconic ocean liner that sank more than a century ago.

The vessel was reported overdue Sunday night about 435 miles (700 kilometres) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, according to Canada’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Lt. Cmdr. Len Hickey said a Canadian Coast Guard vessel and military aircraft were assisting the search effort, which was being led by the U.S. Coast Guard in Boston.

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Rear Adm. John Mauger, a commander for the U.S. Coast Guard, said additional resources would arrive in the coming days.

“It is a remote area — and it is a challenge to conduct a search in that remote area,” he said. “But we are deploying all available assets to make sure we can locate the craft and rescue the people on board.”

According to the Coast Guard, the craft submerged Sunday morning, and its support vessel lost contact with it about an hour and 45 minutes later.

The submersible was operated by OceanGate Expeditions.

David Concannon, an adviser to OceanGate, said the submersible had an 96-hour oxygen supply starting at roughly 6 a.m. Sunday. In an email to The Associated Press, Concannon said he was supposed to be on the dive but could not go due to another client matter. He said officials were working to get a remotely operated vehicle that can reach a depth of 6,000 meters (about 20,000 feet) to the site as soon as possible.

OceanGate’s expeditions to the Titanic wreck site include archaeologists and marine biologists. The company also brings people who pay to come along, known as “mission specialists.” They take turns operating sonar equipment and performing other tasks in the five-person submersible..

OceanGate said its focus was on those aboard and their families.

“We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible,” said a written statement from the company.

U.K. businessman Hamish Harding was one of the mission specialists, according to Action Aviation, a company for which Harding serves as chairman. The company’s managing director, Mark Butler, told the AP that the crew set out on Friday.

“There is still plenty of time to facilitate a rescue mission, there is equipment on board for survival in this event,” Butler said. “We’re all hoping and praying he comes back safe and sound.”

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