Human Remains Presumed Found in Wreckage of Titan Submersible, Says US Coast Guard

by Sophia Chen
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submersible safety

The U.S. Coast Guard has announced the likely discovery of human remains in the wreckage of the Titan submersible, which is now being brought back to the United States as evidence. The tragic incident occurred last week when the submersible, carrying five individuals, imploded during a voyage to explore the Titanic wreck.

The return of the Titan debris to the port in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador on Wednesday is a crucial development in the investigation aimed at determining the cause of the submersible’s implosion. Twisted fragments of the 22-foot vessel were unloaded at a pier operated by the Canadian Coast Guard.

Late on Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard reported the recovery of debris and evidence from the ocean floor, including what is believed to be human remains.

In a statement, U.S. Coast Guard Chief Capt. Jason Neubauer expressed gratitude for the international and interagency support in retrieving and preserving this vital evidence under extreme offshore distances and depths. The evidence will provide critical insights into the cause of the tragedy for investigators from various international jurisdictions. Neubauer emphasized the need for further work to comprehend the factors that led to the catastrophic loss of the Titan and prevent a recurrence of such a tragedy.

To search the ocean floor near the Titanic wreck for remnants of the submersible, the Canadian ship Horizon Arctic was equipped with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Pelagic Research Services, the company that owns the ROV and operates from offices in Massachusetts and New York, confirmed the completion of offshore operations but refrained from commenting on the ongoing Titan investigation due to the involvement of multiple government agencies from the U.S. and Canada.

The Coast Guard had located debris from the Titan approximately 12,500 feet (3,810 meters) underwater, around 1,600 feet (488 meters) away from the Titanic wreckage, as revealed last week. The Coast Guard is spearheading the investigation into the implosion that occurred during the submersible’s descent on June 18. On June 22, it was announced that the submersible had imploded, resulting in the loss of all five individuals on board.

The Coast Guard has initiated a Marine Board of Investigation, which represents the highest level of inquiry conducted by the organization. One of the experts consulted by the Coast Guard during the search, Carl Hartsfield from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, suggested that analyzing the physical material of the recovered debris could provide important clues regarding the fate of the Titan. Additionally, electronic data from the submersible’s instruments may also be available for investigation.

Ocean Gate CEO and pilot Stockton Rush, along with two members of a prominent Pakistani family, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, British adventurer Hamish Harding, and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, lost their lives in the implosion.

Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, and the International Maritime Organization, who are all involved in the investigation, refrained from providing further comments as the investigation is still ongoing. The loss of the Titan submersible has been declared a “major marine casualty” by the Coast Guard, which will lead the investigation.

Reports from the disaster will be submitted for review by the International Maritime Organization, and member states can propose changes to enhance submersible safety regulations. However, any safety proposals are unlikely to be considered by the IMO until its next Maritime Safety Committee meeting in May 2024.

OceanGate Expeditions, the U.S.-based company that owned and operated the Titan, had registered the submersible in the Bahamas. The closure of OceanGate’s company in Everett, Washington coincided with the discovery of the Titan wreckage. The Titan’s mother ship, the Polar Prince, belonged to Canada.

The incident has raised concerns about the safety of private undersea exploration ventures, prompting the Coast Guard to seek improvements in submersible safety through the investigation.

This report includes contributions from Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire, and Michael Casey in Boston, provided by Big Big News.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about submersible safety

Q: What did the US Coast Guard find in the wreckage of the Titan submersible?

A: The US Coast Guard has found presumed human remains in the wreckage of the Titan submersible during their investigation.

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