Final picture of Titanic submarine as rescuers have just 70 hours to find five missing tourists

20 June 2023, 01:03 | Updated: 20 June 2023, 11:30

A race is under way to find the missing Titanic wreck submarine, with British billionaire Hamish Harding named among those on board
A race is under way to find the missing Titanic wreck submarine, with British billionaire Hamish Harding named among those on board. Picture: Facebook/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The final image of a submarine that went missing in the Atlantic Ocean while taking tourists to view the wreck of the Titanic has surfaced.

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OceanGate Expeditions, a private company that organises deep sea expeditions to view the wreck, confirmed in a statement that one of their submersibles - named Titan - had gone missing.

Five people are on board the missing sub, with one of them understood to be UK billionaire Hamish Harding.

Rescuers warned that the group could have as little as 70 hours of oxygen left as they raced against the clock to hunt them down.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday evening, Rear Admiral John W Mauger of the US Coast Guard said they are doing "everything" to find the five people, adding that they were conducting a search 900 miles east of Cape Cod in collaboration with the Canadian armed forces and commercial vessels in the area.

"It is a remote area and a challenge but we are deploying all available assets to make sure we can locate the craft and rescue the people onboard," he said.

Mr Mauger explained: "We anticipate that there's somewhere between 70 to the full 96 hours at this point."

He said the sub may have become stuck in the wreckage and, if that is the case, the Coast Guard does not have the capabilities to reach it.

Read more: Who is Hamish Harding? The British billionaire and Guinness World Record holder missing on the Titanic expedition

This is the last sighting of the submersible shared by Mr Harding's company
This is the last sighting of the submersible shared by Mr Harding's company. Picture: Facebook

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Billionaire Mr Harding posted on social media on Sunday that a ‘window’ had opened up that would allow the dive to go ahead.

"We started steaming from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada yesterday and are planning to start dive operations around 4am tomorrow morning," he said.

"Until then we have a lot of preparations and briefings to do."

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His stepson, Brian Szasz, said he was praying for a successful recovery.

"Hamish Harding my step father has gone missing on submarine thoughts and prayers," he said in a Facebook post.

"My stepdad Hamish Harding has gone missing on a submarine pray for a successful recovery.

"Thoughts and prayers for my stepfather Hamish Harding as his submarine has gone missing exploring Titanic. Search and rescue mission is underway."

Meanwhile, a Titanic veteran diver said he had been due to be on the missing submersible and has since been called to assist with the search.

David Concannon said he had to cancel "to attend to another urgent client matter".

"Last night, I was called and asked to provide whatever assistance I could to ensure the safe return of everyone in the sub," Mr Concannon wrote on a page called Titanic Book Club.

"Of course, I immediately agreed."

The Titanic wreck in the Atlantic
The Titanic wreck in the Atlantic. Picture: Getty

The Titanic's wreck lies more than 12,000ft below the surface, about 370 miles off Newfoundland.

Tourists can pay for submersibles to take them to the remains, but this can cost more than £90,000.

OceanGate Expeditions charges up to £195,000 for an eight-day trip, and it had recently run a mission to the wreck. It last tweeted about a Titanic expedition on June 16.

The Titanic, which was one of the largest ships in the world at the time it launched, sank in April 1912, killing more than 1,500 people out of the more than 2,000 on board. The wreck was discovered in 1985.

The disaster was chronicled by James Cameron in the 1997 film Titanic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet which has taken over $2bn at box offices around the world.