'We have to move now!': Vital equipment needed to rescue Titanic submersible 'stuck on tarmac due to US bureaucracy'

20 June 2023, 08:20 | Updated: 21 June 2023, 15:17

The crew is thought to have had around 96 hours left of oxygen left, as of Monday evening
The crew is thought to have had around 96 hours left of oxygen left, as of Monday evening. Picture: social media/Oceangate
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Crucial equipment that could help find five crew members onboard a submersible that disappeared while looking for the Titanic is stuck on the ground due to 'bureaucracy'.

David Concannon, an advisor to OceanGate, has warned that rescue teams "do not have minutes or hours" and that they "need to move now".

He told NewsNation: "This equipment has been on the tarmac for hours. When I communicate with the U.S. government, I get 'out of office' replies - not from everyone, but from key people that have a sign-off on this."

OceanGate's submersible, named Titan, went missing on Sunday morning, around one hour and 45 minutes into its journey to find the Titanic shipwreck around 12,500ft into the ocean.

Five passengers were onboard, including UK 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.

As of Monday evening, the passengers had around 96 hours of oxygen left.

Read more: 'Signs of life': 'Banging' heard by searchers scouring ocean for missing Titanic submersible, sparking rescue hopes

Read more: Dive expert friend of missing Brits on Titanic sub says vessel design is 'unconventional' and calls for 'rethink'

This is the last sighting of the submersible, Titan, posted by Hamish Harding's company, who is onboard
This is the last sighting of the submersible, Titan, posted by Hamish Harding's company, who is onboard. Picture: Facebook

Foreign Secretary hopes missing submersible will be swiftly found'

Mr Concannon, who was originally meant to be on the submersible before a last minute schedule change, said the delays in getting rescue equipment off the ground were "unacceptable".

He continued: "If we move fast, we can get to the site in 40 hours from where the ship is now.

"If we get the assets flown from Guernsey Channel Islands overnight, we can have them mobilised on the ship in a day and we can get there inside the window

"'Now, it's at the end of the window, but we can get there inside the window where there's still oxygen in the submersible and that's what we want to do."

David Concannon, an advisor to OceanGate
David Concannon, an advisor to OceanGate. Picture: Facebook

Search continues for Titanic tourist submarine missing in Atlantic

Read More: From British billionaire to French explorer and Pakistani businessman: who's on board the missing Titanic sub?

Read More: UK billionaire and French explorer among five onboard missing Titanic submersible 12,500 feet below sea

The Titan submersible is believed to weigh around 23,000lbs, is 6.7m in length, and can hold five people for up to 96 hours.

An eight-day trip to the Titanic wreck, roughly 3,800 underwater, typically costs £195,000.

A number of search and rescue teams are involved in the operation to find the vessel, including from the US and Canada.

A ship named the Polar Prince, has conducted a search on the surface, the US coastguard said in a news conference on Monday.

Frank Owen, a former submarine officer, said the key for those stuck onboard will be to not lose their composure, with 96 hours of oxygen remaining.

"[If] they start panicking or moving around too much they could exceed those rates," he told the BBC.

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