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WORLD NEWS | Titan implosion leaves searchers hunting for clues as officials struggle with complex investigation


Streaks of light seen in California. (Photo credit: Video Grab)

BOSTON, June 23 (AP) — A day after revelations that the Titan submersible implosion was revealed, officials on Friday grappled with the thorny question of who is in charge of investigating the international disaster.

The U.S. Coast Guard said an official investigation had not yet been launched as agencies were still searching for clues that led to the breakup of the vessel.

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“I know there are still a lot of questions about how, why and when this happened. We’re going to gather as much information as we can about those questions right now,” Maj. Gen. John Mogg, 1st Coast Guard District, said Thursday. .

On Friday, the Coast Guard said all relevant agencies were trying to determine who had the authority to lead the investigation, which was sure to be complicated due to the international nature of the mission.

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The U.S. Coast Guard led a search and rescue mission after the Titan imploded in international waters.

OceanGate Expeditions, the company that owns and operates the Titan, is based in the United States, but the submersible is registered in the Bahamas. OceanGate was based in Everett, Washington, but shut down after the Titan was discovered.

Meanwhile, the Titan’s mother ship, the Polar Prince, is from Canada, and the submersible is staffed by people from Britain, Pakistan, France and the United States.

How the investigation will be conducted has also been complicated by poor regulation in the deep sea exploration sector. Salvatore Mercogliano, a history professor at Campbell University in North Carolina who focuses on maritime history and policy, noted that deep-sea expeditions such as OceanGate have received less scrutiny than companies that put humans into space.

The Titan is not registered as a U.S. vessel, nor is it registered with a safety-regulating international body. Nor is it classified by the maritime industry organization that sets standards for things like hull construction.

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who was piloting the Titan when it exploded, complained that regulations could stifle progress.

“Keeping external entities up-to-date on each innovation before putting it to actual testing is the curse of rapid innovation,” Rush wrote in a blog post on his company’s website.

Bob Ballard, a member of the research team that discovered the Titanic’s wreck in 1985, called the lack of certification from outside experts “smoking guns” of Titanic’s implosion.

“We’ve done thousands of dives … to this depth and we’ve never had an accident,” Ballard said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“…the smoking gun is that this is the first time an unclassed submarine has been seen,” he said.

On Sunday, after the Titan was reported missing, a senior U.S. Navy senior said the Navy returned and analyzed its acoustic data and found an “anomaly” that was related to an implosion near the ship’s operating site when communications were lost or explosion matches. officials said.

The Navy passed the information on to the Coast Guard, which continued the search because the data was not considered conclusive, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Along with Rush, two members of prominent Pakistani families were among those killed: Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman Dawood. British adventurer Hamish Harding; and Titanic expert Paul-Henry Nargoulet.

Titan lifted off at 8 a.m. on Sunday and was reported to be about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. Johns, Newfoundland, on Sunday afternoon. Rescuers rushed boats, planes and other equipment to where they went missing.

Early on Thursday, with the submersible’s 96-hour supply of air expected to run out, the Coast Guard announced that it had found wreckage about 1,600 feet (488 meters) from the submersible, dashing any hope of finding the crew alive. Titanic.

“The debris is consistent with catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber,” Mogg said.

The Coast Guard said Thursday that the sounds found during the search may have been made by objects other than Titan, giving rescuers some hope that the individuals might still be alive.

James Cameron, who directed the hit film “Titanic” and has dived into the iconic ship’s wreck several times, told the BBC he knew something “extreme” was happening when he heard the submersible lost its navigation and communications nearby. catastrophic event”. at the same time.

“For me, there’s no doubt about it,” Cameron said. “There was no search. When they finally found an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) there that could go deep, they found it within hours. Probably within minutes.”

In 2021 and 2022, at least 46 people have successfully traveled to the site of the Titanic’s wreck in OceanGate’s submersibles, according to a letter the company filed with the U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, which oversees the Titanic’s wreck.

But both a former company employee and a former passenger have raised questions about the submersible’s safety.

David Lochridge, OceanGate’s former director of marine operations, said in 2018 that the company’s approach to ensuring the integrity of hulls — relying on acoustic monitoring to detect cracks and pops as the hull strains under pressure — was inadequate and could be “affected by “. Passengers in experimental submersibles face potentially extreme danger. “

OceanGate disagrees. Lodgeridge was “not an engineer and was not hired or required to provide engineering services on Titan,” the statement said, noting that he was fired after refusing to accept assurances from the company’s chief engineer that the agreement was actually a better fit. Better detection of defects than the method proposed by Lochridge.

Meanwhile, one of the company’s first customers compared a dive he made at the site two years ago to a suicide mission.

“Imagine a metal pipe a few meters long with a metal plate on it as a floor. You can’t stand it. You can’t kneel. Everyone sits very close to or on top of each other,” says retired businessman and adventurer from Germany said Arthur Loibl. “You can’t be claustrophobic.” (Associated Press)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed, the latest staff may not have modified or edited the body of content)


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