Debris near Titanic wreck site indicates “catastrophic loss” of missing tourist submersible, US Coast Guard confirms

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the First Coast Guard District commander, delivers a press briefing in Boston, Massachusetts, about the discovery of debris from tourist submersible Titan on June 22, 2023. (Photo: US Coast Guard video capture/Petty Officer 2nd class Ronald Hodges)

The US Coast Guard has confirmed the recent discovery of underwater debris near the wreck site of the sunken ocean liner Titanic during the search for a tourist submersible with five people on board that disappeared in the same waters earlier this week.

Speaking at a press briefing in Boston on Thursday, June 22, First Coast Guard District commander Rear Admiral John Mauger said a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) sent to locate the submersible Titan instead found what appeared to be part of the tail section of the missing craft.

The ROV found the debris at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean approximately 1,600 feet (487 metres) from the bow of Titanic. Mauger said that, in consultation with experts from within the Unified Command formed to locate and recover the submersible, the debris is consistent with the “catastrophic loss” of the craft’s pressure chamber.

The families of those on board the submersible as well as officials of the British and French consulates were immediately notified of the discovery and of the Unified Command’s conclusion regarding the loss of the craft.

The coast guard has since called off the search for Titan as the loss of the pressure chamber indicates that the submersible likely imploded due to intense water pressure, leading to the near-instantaneous deaths of all on board.

The occupants included one American, one French, one British, and two Pakistani nationals. Stockton Rush, the pilot, was also the founder and owner of Everett, Washington-based OceanGate, the operator of Titan.

The coast guard began searching for Titan after the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince lost contact with the 21.9-foot (6.7-metre) craft during a dive approximately 1,440 kilometres east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on the morning (local time) of Sunday, June 18.

The submersible was headed for the wreck site of Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, when contact with it was lost.

Titan‘s oxygen reserves would have sustained its occupants for a maximum of four days. However, the coast guard believes the submersible had already imploded even before the start of the search and rescue operation on Monday, June 19.

Baird Maritime

The best maritime site on the web. The sea's our scene!