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Death came in “milliseconds” for the five people aboard the doomed Titan submersible, according to experts who spoke after pieces of the vessel that carried its passengers into the depths of the Atlantic to view the Titanic were discovered on the ocean floor.
A remote-operated vehicle (ROV) searching the seabed for the missing submersible found the rear cover of the Titan around 1,600 feet from the Titanic’s bow, Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger said in a news conference. The ROV found more pieces of the submersible, leading authorities to rule that the debris discovered is consistent with “the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber,” meaning all five aboard the Titan likely died from a massive amount of underwater pressure that killed them instantly.
“A debris field implies a break-up of the submersible … that really sort of indicates what is the worst-case scenario, which is a catastrophic failure and generally that’s an implosion,” marine scientist and rescue expert David Mearns told Sky News.
“The only saving grace is that it would have been immediate — literally in milliseconds — and the men wouldn’t have known what was happening,” Mearns added.
The iconic ship, which sank in 1912, lies some 12,500 feet below the surface, and about 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland.
The Coast Guard admiral said at the news conference that it would be difficult to locate the bodies because the debris showed that it imploded due to the intense pressure. Mauger added that it was still too early to tell when exactly the vessel imploded, and they will continue conducting remote operations on the sea floor.
“I know there’s a lot of questions about how, why, when this happened,” Mauger said. “That’s going to be, I’m sure, the focus of future review. Right now, we’re focused on documenting the scene.”
OceanGate CEO and founder Stockton Rush was piloting the submersible and was joined by billionaire explorer Hamish Harding, British businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, an esteemed French maritime expert with decades of experience diving to the Titanic wreckage.
OceanGate released a statement following the Coast Guard’s findings, expressing their sorrow for the loss of life.
“We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost,” the statement said.