30mph gusts and 7ft swell at search site as efforts to find missing Titanic sub enter critical 24 hours

21 June 2023, 15:54 | Updated: 21 June 2023, 16:08

7ft waves and winds of up to 30mph are battering the site from where the rescue effort is being coordinated
7ft waves and winds of up to 30mph are battering the site from where the rescue effort is being coordinated. Picture: Alamy/Getty/US Coast Guard

By Asher McShane

Weather conditions at the ocean base of search operations for the missing Titanic submarine are becoming more challenging, according to an update from the US Coast Guard.

The sea-based ‘unified command’ site is being hit by winds of up to 30mph and a sea swell of up to 7ft.

Three search ships arrived at the scene this morning; The John Cabot, Skandi Vinland and Atlantic Merlin.

The John Cabot is equipped with sonar scanning capabilities and is conducting a methodical search of the area along with the two other vessels.

The search efforts have intensified with less than 24 hours of breathable air in the missing submarine’s tanks.

The Titan is believed to be around 12,500ft below the sea surface
The Titan is believed to be around 12,500ft below the sea surface. Picture: US Coast Guard

It comes after the US Coast Guard said “noises” were detected from the search area of the missing deep-sea vessel near the wreck site of the Titanic.

The submersible, named Titan, lost communication with tour operators on Sunday while about 435 miles south of St John's, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Titan has five people on board, including British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding, and on Tuesday the US Coast Guard estimated the 6.7 metres (22ft) long OceanGate Expeditions vessel had just 40 hours of oxygen left.

Read more: Titanic tourists' best hope: Only rescue ship capable of winching sub to safety joins desperate hunt for Titan

Read more: Titanic sub's last chance: Vital rescue equipment flown in on US cargo planes ahead of 15-hour race across Atlantic

The submarine is missing with five passengers on board
The submarine is missing with five passengers on board. Picture: Alamy

The others on board are Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman and OceanGate's chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, reportedly together with French submersible pilot Paul-Henry Nargeolet.

The US Coast Guard on Wednesday morning said: "Canadian P-3 aircraft detected underwater noises in the search area. As a result, ROV (remote operating vehicles) operations were relocated in an attempt to explore the origin of the noises.

"Those ROV searches have yielded negative results but continue.

"Additionally, the data from the P-3 aircraft has been shared with our U.S. Navy experts for further analysis which will be considered in future search plans."

Rescuers race against clock after noises heard from Titanic vessel search area

The Explorers' Club, of which Mr Harding is a founding member, shared an upbeat message on Wednesday morning.

President Richard Garriot de Cayeux said in a statement: "There is cause for hope, that based on data from the field, we understand that likely signs of life have been detected at the site.

"They precisely understand the experienced personnel and tech we can help deploy... We believe they are doing everything possible with all the resources they have."

Mr Garriot de Cayeux said they are ready to provide the UK-based Magellan's remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that is certified to travel as deep as 6,000 metres.

Meanwhile, US media outlet The Rolling Stone reported an internal US government memo said "banging" was detected by Canadian search aircraft in 30-minute intervals on Wednesday.

It is understood the King is being kept informed of the search efforts, as Shahzada Dawood is a long-time supporter of The Prince's Trust International and The British Asian Trust, both of which are charities founded by Charles.

It comes as a former employee of OceanGate had raised concerns over "safety and quality control issues regarding the Titan to OceanGate executive management", according to court filings.

David Lochridge, OceanGate's former director of marine operations, claimed in the August 2018 court document he was wrongfully fired after flagging worries about the company's alleged "refusal to conduct critical, non-destructive testing of the experimental design".

After "issues of quality control" with Titan were raised, the filings say Mr Rush asked Mr Lochridge to conduct a "quality inspection" report on the vessel.

During this process, Lochridge "identified numerous issues that posed serious safety concerns" but he was allegedly "met with hostility and denial of access" to necessary documents before later being fired.

The document claims he became concerned about a "lack of non-destructive testing performed on the hull of the Titan", and that he "stressed the potential danger to passengers of the Titan as the submersible reached extreme depths".

In a November 2022 episode of his Unsung Science podcast, CBS journalist David Pogue interviewed Mr Rush ahead of going on a Titan expedition to the wreckage.

In the podcast, Mr Rush told him: "You know, at some point, safety is just pure waste.

"I mean, if you just want to be safe, don't get out of bed, don't get in your car, don't do anything.

"At some point, you're going to take some risk, and it really is a risk-reward question.

"I think I can do this just as safely by breaking the rules."

Mr Pogue also said he had signed a waiver before going on the dive which allegedly said: "The experimental submersible vessel has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body" and that the trip could result in death.

OceanGate has been approached for comment.

On Tuesday David Mearns, a deep-sea shipwreck hunter who is friends with Mr Harding and Mr Nargeolet, said he had seen reports of "tapping" being heard in the water, which he said could indicate the passengers are alive.

He told Channel 4 News: "There's some reports that I've just read from my own club, which is how I know Hamish, is that somebody today has heard some tapping.

"Now they've got sonar buoys out there, there may be some other hydrophones that the mothership the Polar Prince had in the water.

"It's hard to imagine how they could have heard that but still, they are at least trying to operate or encourage the rescue efforts to continue on and to be redoubled on the fact that they've heard something which suggests that the men are alive in the submersible."

On Tuesday, Captain Jamie Frederick of the US Coast Guard said a "unified command" of multiple agencies was formed on Monday to tackle the "very complex problem" of finding the missing submersible.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Sir Geoffrey Boycott was first diagnosed with throat cancer in 2002.

Sir Geoffrey Boycott’s family issues health update as England legend undergoes cancer surgery

Liz Colfer says pension taxation misses the mark.

Why pension taxation proposals miss the mark

It follows a sharp rise in the number of abusive messages sent via the bank's app.

Santander bans swear words when sending money after abusers use 1p bank transfers to bypass restraining orders

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reacts after the announcement of the vote at the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Ursula von Der Leyen wins second term as top EU leader

Sir Ed Davey has been criticised for his time as Post Office minister

Ed Davey says sorry for taking five months to meet Alan Bates and says ex-Post Office boss Paula Vennells ‘fed me lies’

The original Bacchus by Giambologna sits in the Bargello museum in Florence

Former Italian cultural minister defends woman who simulated sex with beloved Florence statue

Formal talkjs will begin next week in a bid to end long-running junior doctors strike

Government to begin formal talks with junior doctors to end long-running pay row

Jay Slater and his mum, Debbie Duncan

Jay Slater's mum appeals for funeral donations to give son the 'send-off he deserves'

File photo dated 26/07/23 of Andrew Malkinson. The Criminal Cases Review Commission has offered an 'unreserved apology' for failing Malkinson, who spent 17 years in prison for being wrongly convicted of rape. Issue date: Thursday April 18, 2024.

Wrongly imprisoned Andrew Malkinson 'could have been freed a decade earlier', watchdog finds

Taylor Swift plays to 60,000 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany

Police arrest suspected Taylor Swift stalker moments before concert kicks off

Pret A Manger has overhauled its coffee subscription plan

Fury as Pret scraps 'too good to be true' £30-a-month coffee subscription in favour of new scheme

Di Prima has been axed from Strictly Come Dancing amid the allegations against him.

Axed Strictly star Graziano Di Prima returns to £6 an hour job amid allegations he 'hit and kicked' dance partner Zara McDermott

British trainee barrister, 26, goes missing in Majorca after flatmate 'threatens to have men sort him out'

British trainee barrister, 26, goes missing in Majorca after flatmate 'threatens to have men sort him out'

The government 'failed its citizens', the Covid Inquiry has found

Government ‘failed its citizens’, Covid Inquiry finds as ‘major overhaul’ of emergency planning needed

Keir Starmer has been welcoming EU leaders at the European Political Community summit in Oxfordshire

Starmer warns ‘criminal empire is at work’ as he urges European leaders to tackle people smuggling ‘crisis’

Both of them received community orders

Two asylum seekers who stole £25k gold Rolex in London's Soho allowed to walk free