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    Titanic Tourist Vessel Missing – A Mystery Deeper Than the Ocean

    Titanic Tourist Vessel Missing  

    Five people have been missing since a tourist submersible was sent to explore the wreckage of the Titanic nearly 3,800 meters below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

    According to the company that operates it, experts are racing against time to find the Titan, equipped with only 96 hours of oxygen. It has been three days since the Polar Prince, a Canadian research icebreaker, lost contact with the Titan while descending to the Titanic wreck site.

    The search for the submersible, owned by a deep-sea adventure tour company called OceanGate Expeditions, has involved a fleet of ships, aircraft, and sonar buoys.

    The submersible, which can travel at three knots or about 5.5 kilometers per hour, has no windows and can hold only five people. Typically, passengers sit cross-legged on the floor of the submarine and look at the Titanic through a porthole.

    The submersible is equipped with a communication link that allows it to send short text messages to the surface ship, but not much more. Usually, the statements are about whether the Titan is descending, ascending, or resting.

    One former passenger describes the vessel as “a minivan without seats.” He says it’s made out of off-the-shelf parts, including a video game controller for steering, and that it is cramped with little room for more than one person at a time to stretch out.

    He says he’s been on the Titan twice, and it has been fun, but when you go below a couple of hundred meters in complete darkness and with no power, it can be dangerous for even experienced divers.

    The Titan

    A Bucks County man who has been on the Titan describes it as a small, simple, cramped, and uncomfortable vehicle that does not have enough backup systems to return safely to the surface in an emergency.

    He said he had been on submarines that were far larger than the Titan and that they had more backup systems, including the ability to use their rebreathers in the event of a hull breach.

    What Happened

    The family of a British billionaire on the Titan, Hamish Harding, says it took too long for OceanGate to notify the Coast Guard about his disappearance.

    They have sued the company, arguing it is obligated to tell authorities as soon as something goes wrong. Experts say there are several possibilities for what might have happened, but none are good.

    One option is that the submarine is still diving but is so deep underwater that it cannot raise its rebreathers. Another is that the submersible could be in a cave, making it impossible to surface.

    One of the reasons submarine crews are taught to bang on their rebreathers if they can’t communicate with the surface is because sound waves can reach much deeper than the ocean’s surface.

    That’s why scientists hope acoustic signals, possibly including the sounds of the missing submersible’s rebreathers, may be heard this week.

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