Rescue Teams Race Against Time in Search for Missing Submersible Near Titanic Wreck

The search for a submersible craft with five people aboard remains underway after the craft was reported missing on Sunday while operating near the wreckage of the famous Titanic.

Search and rescue operations have been carried out by the United States Coast Guard, who said on Monday that the small submarine was reported lost after a Canadian research ship, the MV Polar Prince, lost contact with the craft and its crew.

The search area is located approximately 900 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

“A Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, C-130 Hercules aircraft, as well as a Canadian P8 aircraft equipped with underwater sonar capability, are currently searching for the missing submersible,” the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement.

Titan submersible
Map indicating the route taken by the Titan prior to losing contact with the research vessel MV Polar Prince on June 18, 2023, while approaching the wreckage site of the Titanic (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/CC 4.0).

The 22-foot-long missing vessel, the Titan, was last in communication with the MV Polar Prince on Sunday morning. At the time of its disappearance, it was close to halfway through its scheduled dive, which was expected to last approximately 2.5 hours.

Titan is equipped with enough oxygen to last several days, but by Tuesday morning, concerns were mounting among Coast Guard officials who recognize the window for rescuing the vessel and its crew is quickly closing.

On Monday, Rear Admiral John Mauger, Commander of the 1st U.S. Coast Guard District in Boston, Massachusetts, said they were “working very closely at this point to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can do to locate the submersible and rescue those on board.”

“We’ve subsequently coordinated with the Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Armed Forces to deploy additional assets to the scene,” Mauger said. A Canadian C-130 and other Canadian craft have also been involved in the search, in addition to sonar buoys that have been deployed in the area.

The search area off the coast of Cape Cod is being carried out in waters close to 13,000 feet in depth.

“It is a remote area,” Mauger said, adding that the location’s distance from land and depth make it a challenging location to carry out search and rescue operations.

Mauger said the Coast Guard is taking every measure to ensure they can “locate the craft and rescue the people on board.”

“We will continue to fly aircraft and move additional vessels into the area,” Mauger said.

Rear Adm. John Mauger
Rear Adm. John Mauger (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard).

Mauger also said the Coast Guard has been in touch with commercial vessels that are able to assist with the search.

“In the course of the next couple of days, we anticipate adding additional capability to conduct additional search in the water as those commercial assets arrive on scene,” Mauger said.

“We need to make sure that we are looking both on the surface for the vessel, if it had surfaced back to the water, but it somehow lost communications with the [MV Polar Prince],” Mauger said, emphasizing that searching for missing submersible vessels presents unique complications for search and rescue efforts.

Sonar capabilities involving buoys deployed in the area, as well as sonar systems on vessels involved in the search, are currently being utilized to attempt the detection of any sounds in the water column that may help indicate the lost submersible’s location.

Mauger said efforts will continue with all U.S. and international partners available as the search for the missing craft continues.

Micah Hanks is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of The Debrief. He can be reached by email at micah@thedebrief.org. Follow his work at micahhanks.com and on Twitter: @MicahHanks