Time running out for Titanic Sub as Search Focuses on Undersea Sounds

By Joseph Ax and Steve Gorman.

Rescuers searching for a missing submersible near the wreck of the Titanic focused on Wednesday on a remote patch of the North Atlantic where undersea noises were detected, although officials cautioned the sounds may not have originated from the vessel.

With the submersible’s air supply expected to run out in a matter of hours, an international search operation was sweeping a vast expanse of ocean for the Titan, which vanished on Sunday while carrying five people on a deep-sea tourist voyage to the world-famous, century-old shipwreck.

In one highly anticipated addition to the search, the French research ship Atalante was en route late on Wednesday to deploy a robotic diving craft capable of descending to a depth well below that of even the Titanic wreck, the Coast Guard said.

The French submersible robot, dubbed the Victor 6,000, was dispatched at the request of the U.S. Navy, which was sending its own special salvage system designed to lift large, heavy undersea objects such as sunken aircraft or small vessels.

The wreck of the Titanic, a British ocean liner that struck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, killing more than 1,500 people, lies on the seabed at a depth of about 12,500 feet (3,810 meters). It is about 900 miles (1,450 km) east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and 400 miles south of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Those aboard the submersible, the highlight of a tourist adventure that costs $250,000 per person, included British billionaire and adventurer Hamish Harding, 58, and Pakistani-born businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, with his 19-year-old son Suleman, who are both British citizens.

French oceanographer and leading Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, and Stockton Rush, founder and chief executive of OceanGate, were also reported to be on board.

Read more at reuters.com.