Why Is Everyone Talking About Submarines and the Titanic?

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A submarine on a tourist expedition to the Titanic shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean went missing last week with only four days’ worth of oxygen, and the wreckage was found on Thursday the 22nd. The disaster has sparked all sorts of buzz, from conversations on the internet to memorial services at Titanic museums around the country. Read on below to learn exactly what happened in this disaster.

What is OceanGate?

All the buzz around submarines and the Titanic started with the company OceanGate Expeditions, an American ocean exploration venture founded in 2009 in Everett, Washington. The company offers trips to the Titanic, located around 370 miles off the Canadian coast. The company provides crewed submersible services to enable researchers and explorers to access the oceans’ vast resources.

What happened?

The submersible named Titan, owned by OceanGate, embarked on a dive to the Titanic wreckage site on Sunday, June 18. The crew of the Polar Prince, a Canadian research ship that was assigned to support and communicate with the vessel, lost contact with the sub about an hour and 45 minutes later. The Polar Prince notified the U.S. Coast Guard of the missing submarine at 7:10 p.m., after it failed to reappear at the planned time of 4:30 a.m.

On June 22, after several days of search and rescue efforts from both the U.S. and Canada, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that a debris field had been discovered near the Titanic. It was confirmed that the debris was the wreckage of Titan, and that all five passengers aboard the vessel had been killed. The bodies of the passengers have not been recovered, and the depth of the location and condition of the wreckage seems to indicate that that won’t be possible.

Who was aboard the submarine?

The five people aboard the submersible were Hamish Harding, a 59-year-old British billionaire, business owner, and explorer; British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman; French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who was a leading authority on the Titanic and had made multiple dives over the years to explore the ship; and Stockton Rush, the CEO and co-founder of OceanGate Expeditions, who was serving as pilot of Titan.

Investigations from the U.S. and Canada

Both the United States and Canada have launched investigations into the disaster, what caused it, and to what extent OceanGate needs to be held responsible for the event. Documentation has now surfaced indicating that some OceanGate executives and external experts had concerns about the safety of the vessel, which could potentially lead to major legal troubles for the company.

The U.S. investigation into the tragedy is being spearheaded by the Coast Guard with the assistance of the National Transportation Safety Board. The Canadian Transportation Safety Board will be heading up the investigation in Canada, as that’s where the journey began. The investigation will begin in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where the boat and submarine originally took off from.