USCG Takes Control of Debris and Remains from Titan Submersible

Titan debris and remains
Horizon Arctic returned to St. John's this morning carryign the debris from the Titan (File photo Horizon Marine)

Published Jun 28, 2023 9:08 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed late today that it is taking custody of debris and presumed human remains recovered from the site of the lost Titan submersible on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean the wreck of the Titanic.  The anchor handling vessel Horizon Arctic returned to St. John’s, Newfoundland this morning with the ROV and team from Pelagic Research Services which the company reports have been working around the clock for 10 days on the mission to assist the search and recovery operation.

Pelagic reported on Sunday that its ROV was making daily dives to the wreck site after having first located the debris from the Titan on June 22. Under the command of the unified command established by the U.S. Coast Guard and working with the U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving, the ROV and its team investigated and later retrieved what Pelagic called “identified objects of interest.”

The Canadian Broadcasting Company and others were on hand today when the Horizon Arctic returned to St. John’s and docked at a Canadian Coast Guard pier. They supplied video shows several large pieces of debris partially covered with white tarps being lifted onto the pier. Some showed wires and other electronics dangling from the sections. One piece appears to be the nose cone of the submersible. According to information on OceanGate’s website, the vessel which was 21 feet long and made of carbon fibers and titanium weighed 23,000 pounds.



The U.S. Coast Guard said late today that after consulting with the other international partner investigating agencies, its Marine Board of Investigation was taking custody of the debris and was transporting it to the United States aboard a U.S. Coast Guard cutter.  They did not say which port it would be taken to but said it would facilitate further analysis and testing.

U.S. medical professionals will also conduct a formal analysis of the presumed human remains. According to the USCG, the remains were recovered within the wreckage. Previously, they had reported that there were two debris fields found on June 22 that were confirmed to be from the Titan. The submersible was approximately 1,600 feet off the bow of the Titanic in an area described as level and free of other debris.

“I am grateful for the coordinated international and interagency support to recover and preserve this vital evidence at extreme offshore distances and depths,” stated MBI Chair Captain Jason Neubauer. “The evidence will provide investigators from several international jurisdictions with critical insights into the cause of this tragedy.”

The U.S. Coast Guard reported on Sunday, that it would be convening its highest level of investigation, a Marine Board of Investigation into the loss of the Titan. In addition, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Transportation Safety Board (TSB), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) all announced investigations.

The MBI emphasized in its statement tonight that there is still a substantial amount of work to be done to understand the factors that led to the catastrophic loss of the Titan. Investigators were already on hand in St. John’s meeting the returning vessels and will be interviewing the crew from the Polar Prince which was the support vessel for the Titan. The MBI will continue evidence collection and witness interviews and the information will eventually be used as part of a public hearing and report on the tragedy.