After five days of frantic searching, the “major fragment” of the Titanic has been found near the wreck – and all five people on board the submersible are presumed dead.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the breakthrough was made by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that has been scouring the ocean floor.
The deep-sea robot, sent underwater by the Canadian ship Horizon Arctic, was first spotted on Thursday morning when it spotted a “tail cone” from the rear tip of the submersible.
It was found about 1,600 feet (500 meters) from the bow of the Titanic wreck.
The ROV then continued to explore the area and found more debris, including the front end of the pressure hull and later the other end, Rear Admiral John Mogg said at a news conference in Boston Harbor.
After consulting with experts, he said, it was concluded that “the debris is consistent with catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber.
“Families were notified immediately after this decision was made … and my deepest condolences,” he said.
Responding to questions from Sky’s James Matthews, officials revealed that they eventually found “five different major components” of the ship, which allowed them to establish with certainty that it was the Titan.
Discover “the whole of the ship”
After spotting the tail cone, the ROV then found a large debris field nearby, where the forward portion of the submarine’s pressure chamber was found, officials said.
Paul Hankins, director of U.S. Navy salvage operations, said it was “the first indication that something catastrophic had happened.”
The robot then encountered a second, smaller debris field containing the other end of the pressurized chamber, which Mr Hankins said “essentially damaged the entire pressure vessel”.
ROVs will continue to search the area to “get a full picture of what’s going on there,” officials said.
But they declined to comment on the prospect of recovering the bodies of the dead.
Rear Admiral John Mogg told reporters it was an “extremely unforgiving environment” with debris “consistent with the ship’s catastrophic implosion”.
“Confidence that questions will be answered”
Carl Hartswell, an expert at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said at the same news conference that he had seen no indication that the submarine had crashed into the Titanic or exploded on top of it.
He said the debris field indicated that the disaster occurred in the “water column” away from the Titanic – a term used to describe the space between the sea surface and the ocean floor.
Mr Hartswell said the wreck of the submarine was found on a “smooth sea floor” and there was “no wreckage” [from the Titanic] in the area”.
Rear Admiral Mogg said it was too early to tell when the Titan would implode, and said the impact sounds heard during the search did not appear to be related to the debris they found.
He said the buoys used to detect the sound had been in the water for more than 72 hours and had not detected any “catastrophic events” during that time.
He added: “How, why and when this happened … as governments meet and discuss what an investigation of this nature might look like, we will gather as much information as we can.”
“This is something that’s happening in remote parts of the ocean … so it’s a complex case that needs to be addressed, but I believe these questions will start to be answered.”
How Search Works
At around 8am local time (1pm UK time) on Sunday 18 June, Titan began its two-hour descent to the Titanic wreck at a depth of 3,810 m (12,500 ft).
At 9.45am (5pm UK time), the submarine lost contact with the surface vessel. The Titans then failed to show up on the water for their scheduled 3pm (8pm UK time).
But it wasn’t until 5.40pm (10.40pm UK time) that the US Coastguard became aware of the situation.
US and Canadian ships and aircraft officially began the search the next day, Monday, June 19.
Sonobuoys, capable of monitoring sound to depths of around 3,900 m (13,000 ft), were dropped into the Atlantic Ocean in an attempt to find any sign of the missing craft.
as Details of those on board were released on Tuesday 20 JuneFrance has since pledged to send a deep-sea diving vessel, the Atalante, to the search area.
Hopes were raised, however, when reports emerged that sounds had been detected underwater for hours.
No official announcement has yet been made, although US media has begun reporting the news.
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The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed on Wednesday, June 21 that a Canadian P-3 aircraft detected underwater impacts every 30 minutes, but Added result search with “Negative”.
The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, Canadian Coast Guard and Ocean Gate Expeditions formed a unified command to oversee the search operation, and the French ship Atalante arrived later that night. So far, at least 10 ships have been involved.
After noon on Thursday, June 22, Titan’s oxygen supply is expected to run out. But the Rear Admiral, who is leading the search and rescue operation, told Sky News it remained “active” and the crew was “hopeful”.
By then all the ships involved in the search were in position— These include the Atalante ship, which carries a robot that can dive 6,000m (19,600ft).
Just before 4.50pm (UK time), the US Coastguard revealed that “an ROV found a debris field within the search area near the Titanic”.
It added in a brief statement that “experts from Unified Command are evaluating the information”.
Sky News then spoke to rescue expert David Mearns, who knew two of the five men on board.
“They wouldn’t use words like ‘debris field’ unless there was no chance of rescuing someone alive,” he said.
“The debris field means the disintegration of the submersible … it really shows what the worst-case scenario is, which is a catastrophic failure, usually an implosion.
“The only saving grace is that it happens instantly — milliseconds, actually — and people won’t know what’s going on.”
Just before 8pm UK time, OceanGate said in a statement that it believed the people on board were “sadly missing”.
The company said it was “saddened by the loss of life” and expressed its gratitude to the “countless men and women from multiple organizations in the international community who provided extensive resources and dedicated their efforts to this mission”.