Fears Titanic submarine search mission could dwarf deepest rescue in history as operation leader admits 'challenge'

20 June 2023, 12:29

It is feared that the OceanGate rescue will be challenging
It is feared that the OceanGate rescue will be challenging. Picture: Alamy/OceanGate

By Will Taylor

Rescuers racing to find the missing submersible that was taking five people to see the wreck of the Titanic could face the deepest underwater recovery in history.

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The US Coast Guard has warned the operation will prove challenging as it works with Canadian services and private vessels to locate the sub.

There are fears the Titan could have sunk down to the ocean bed near the wrecked cruise liner, which went down in 1912 and sits about 12,000ft below the surface.

If it has fallen to depths like that it will be incredibly difficult to mount a rescue - which would be the deepest ever.

Read more: Titan submersible that vanished on trip to Titanic 'got lost for two and a half hours' on expedition last year

The furthest down a person has ever been rescued from was 1,575ft below the waves during a rescue off the coast of Ireland in 1973.

Former Royal Navy submariner Roger Chapman and engineer Roger Mallinson were on board a deep-sea submersible when it sank into an abyss, plummeting to 1,575ft.

They had been laying a cable for the Post Office.

The Pisces III is the deepest rescue in history
The Pisces III is the deepest rescue in history. Picture: Alamy

Stuck in their vessel, called Pisces III, the men were left in a steel ball some six feet in diameter.

The depth they ended up at is just a fraction of the distance from surface to ocean floor where the Titanic is wrecked.

They managed to get a message out and a mission to save them was launched.

Read more: Race against time: Titanic sub search has hours to find missing explorers as experts warn of difficult rescue mission

Chapman, 28, and Mallinson, 35, were rescued after a three-day operation about 150 miles of Ireland's south coast. They had just 12 minutes of oxygen left before they were saved.

A cable ship, John Cabot, managed to haul the Pisces III out of the sea with help from other Pisces vessels and a remote control recovery unit.

The men carried on meeting each year.

A search is on for the Titan
A search is on for the Titan. Picture: Titan

Five people are on board the Titan, a submersible owned by OceanGate Expeditions which went to view the Titanic, about 400 miles off Newfoundland.

They are British billionaire Hamish Harding, two Pakistanis - Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman - Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, as well as 73-year-old French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet.

"We anticipate there is somewhere between 70 and the full 96 hours available at this point," said US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger.

Speaking about the rescue on Monday, the operation leader said "everything" is being done to find the vessel but warned it "is a remote area and a challenge".