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As time runs out for the passengers on the Titan submersible that went looking deep into the sea for wreckage of the Titanic, a last-ditch effort involving heavy machinery and submarines arrived in Newfoundland on Tuesday night.
Three C-17 aircraft from the U.S. Air Force reportedly landed at a cargo terminal in St. John’s, Newfoundland, carrying unmanned vehicles capable of going 19,000 feet underwater as well as two heavy-duty Hyundai winches emblazoned “6000 kg line pull,” a huge roll of cable, and two large machines that said “high voltage” on their sides, The Daily Mail reported. A forklift truck loaded the equipment onto six flatbed trucks.
The equipment was taken to a port where a ship dubbed the Horizon Arctic was scheduled to leave at midnight, although the journey to the area where Titan is submerged would take 15 hours. The Titan may be as deep as 12,000 feet below the surface and weighs 10,432 kg, so both winches would be necessary to pull it out.
Late Tuesday night, “banging sounds” were reported coming in 30-minute intervals near where the Titan went missing with its passengers: billionaire Hamish Harding, French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, and Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his son Sulaiman Dawood, 19.
“RCC Halifax launched a P8, Poseidon, which has underwater detection capabilities from the air,” the Department of Homeland Security said in an e-mail. “The P8 deployed sonobuoys, which reported a contact in a position close to the distress position. The P8 heard banging sounds in the area every 30 minutes. Four hours later additional sonar was deployed and banging was still heard.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Capt. Jamie Frederick with the Coast Guard’s 1st District estimated that the passengers aboard the Titan had limited oxygen left. “We know there’s about 40 hours of breathable air left based on that initial report,” he said.
Acknowledging that the search area was “larger than the state of Connecticut,” he added that his estimate of the remaining oxygen was based on OceanGate Expeditions saying that the Titan had a 96-hour life support system, meaning the oxygen would run out at roughly 5 a.m. ET on Thursday.
Another concern regarding the passengers comes from the fact that a 2022 report by CBS correspondent David Pogue said the Titan’s hatch is sealed by an external crew with 17 bolts, so they cannot open the hatch from the inside.