‘It's a lot of emotions, people are tired’: Titan sub rescue leader chokes up as he describes discovering wreckage

30 June 2023, 23:41 | Updated: 30 June 2023, 23:47

The rescue leader got emotional on Friday.
The rescue leader got emotional on Friday. Picture: Alamy/Getty/Oceangate

By Jenny Medlicott

The leader of the Titan sub recovery mission held back tears as he described the emotional moment his team uncovered the sub’s debris.

Edward Cassano, the chief executive of Pelagic Research Services, the company that discovered the wreckage of the Titan spoke at a press conference on Friday about his team’s experience searching for the missing sub.

The sub killed five people when it “catastrophically imploded” on Sunday 18 June, just hours after it had set off on a deep-sea expedition of the Titanic wreckage.

On Thursday 22 June, four days after the sub had suffered communication failures, the debris of the sub was found by Mr Cassano’s team. The debris was uncovered by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) at 3800 metres below the surface of the water.

Mr Cassano described the “emotional” experience of searching for the vessel and then discovering its wreckage.

He said at a press conference in New York on Friday: “We were focused on the job at hand - that's what we do and that is what all of these people do. We were laser-focused on rescue.

“It was unprecedented in a sense, our ability to arrive at the sea floor and then go to work and then we worked for another five or six days, at 3800 metres. And then we began the recovery operations, which in and of themselves were quite challenging.

“Sadly, the rescue turned into a recovery.”

Holding back the tears, he said: “I have to apologise, we’re still demobilising, there’s a lot of emotions, people are tired.”

“We are very saddened we could not recover a viable sub, but beyond that the system performed,” he added.

Read more: Did ‘cavalier’ Titanic sub boss Stockton Rush lie about craft’s safety to persuade French dive expert to join trip?

Read more: OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush was 'flustered' after sub's comms went out on test dive, says documentary cameraman

Edward Cassano spoke during a news conference on the Titan sub on Friday.
Edward Cassano spoke during a news conference on the Titan sub on Friday. Picture: Alamy

Read more: OceanGate Expeditions is still advertising $250,000 trips to the Titanic wreckage - despite implosion that killed five

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The Titan sub was located by a remotely-operated vehicle called the Odysseus 6K on Thursday 22 June.

Mr Cassano said after they made the discovery the US Coast Guard immediately got in touch with the family of the passengers that were on board.

British billionaire Hamish Harding was aboard, along with Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French explorer, Shahzada Dawood, a UK-based Pakistani businessman who was a board member of the Prince's Trust charity, his 19-year-old son Suleman Dawood, who went to Strathclyde University in Glasgow, and Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate.

It comes after it emerged on Wednesday that "presumed human remains" of the five passengers on board the Titan sub had been recovered from the wreckage, the US Coast Guard has said.

A formal analysis into 'human remains' is to be conducted by medical professionals.
A formal analysis into 'human remains' is to be conducted by medical professionals. Picture: Alamy

Canadian police are currently examining the incident, as they are working to determine whether “criminal, federal or provincial laws” were broken ahead of the vessel’s expedition.

The results will determine whether a full criminal investigation is launched.

Superintendent Kent Osmond, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), said: “Such an investigation will proceed only if our examination of the circumstances indicate criminal, federal or provincial laws may possibly have been broken.

“Following the US Coast Guard's announcement earlier this week that debris from the submersible was located and all five on board were presumed dead, we will now look at the circumstances that led to those deaths.

“Our investigators are engaged and active in this matter as of this morning. Once a determination has been made as to whether or not a full investigation will be launched, we will provide an update at that time.”