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Noises are “Inconclusive” as Search for Missing Submersible Expands

submersible search Titanic
Search has covered 10,000 square miles (USCG photo)

Published Jun 21, 2023 3:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

The international search and rescue operation continues to build in the efforts to locate the missing submersible Titan last heard from on Sunday, June 18, as it began a dive to the wreck site of the Titanic. British and French resources have joined the U.S. and Canadian coast guards with support from the U.S. Navy as the search area both on the surface and subsurface has been expanded.

Coast Guard Captain Jamie Frederick provide the daily update at midday on Wednesday detailing efforts and responding to questions after reports last night that “underwater noises” had been detected. The captain reported that they had repositioned the subsurface efforts to the area where the noises were detected while experts from the U.S. Navy analyzed the sounds. 

While they report that sounds have been heard several times, the analysis of the noises has been "inconclusive" the USCG reports. An expert from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution consulting with the team explained noses come from ships in the area as well as from nature or possibly individuals. They are still analyzing recordings in an attempt to determine the source of these noises. 

“We are bringing all available assets and expertise to bear as quickly as possible in response to this complex operation,” Captain Frederick said at today’s briefing.

He highlighted that two ROVs are currently operating in the area, saying that one has the capability to go down 4,000 meters which is sufficient to reach the wreck which lies at approximately 3,800 meters. A team from France’s state-run research institute Ifremer departed Canada last night and was due to reach the site Wednesday evening. The USCG highlights the French are bringing a state-of-the-art ROV that has the capability to dive 6,000 meters and operate continuously for up to 72 hours. It also has remotely controlled arms that could be used to free the submersible if it is tangled in debris.

The Royal Navy provided a submariner expert who is currently on exchange with the U.S. Navy in Virginia after the USCG requested additional subsurface support. 

In total, they report there are five surface assets and it will be up to 10 in the next 24 to 48 hours. The Canadians are sending a mobile decompression chamber and medical team.

The Canadian vessel John Cabot reached the area today along with two commercial vessels, the Skandi Vinland and the Atlantic Merlin, both of which have ROV capabilities. Back-to-back P2 flights are providing 14 hours of coverage over the site along with two C-130s operating in the area. Weather conditions, however, remain challenging with reports of fog and mist, winds at 23mph with gusts up to 30 mph, and the seas now running at six to seven feet.

"We are smack dab in the middle of search and rescue," Captain Frederick responded to reporters’ questions. He said the team by nature has to remain hopeful and that they are working all out and marshaling all the resources to find the Titan and its crew.