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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

More ships join search for submersible after noises are heard underwater

This undated image, courtesy of OceanGate Expeditions, shows their Titan submersible launching from a platform.

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jesús Jiménez and Mike Ives

Noises heard from beneath the waves of the North Atlantic on Tuesday and Wednesday have become the focus of the urgent search for five people inside a submersible that disappeared over the weekend during a dive to the wreckage of the Titanic.

Capt. Jamie Frederick of the U.S. Coast Guard said remotely operated vehicles are seeking the source of the sounds, and a team of experts is examining the noises to determine if they might be from the missing vessel. But so far, he said, that analysis has been “inconclusive.”

More rescue vessels have arrived in the vast search area — roughly twice the size of Connecticut and more than 2 miles deep — where teams of international experts have been conducting an extensive search for the craft, called the Titan. The 22-foot submersible lost contact Sunday during what should have been a 2 1/2-hour journey to the wreck of the Titanic.

Here are the latest details:

— Frederick reiterated that the mission continues to be a search-and-rescue operation, although officials have said they are operating under the assumption that the submersible would run out of oxygen sometime Thursday morning. “We need to have hope,” he said.

— Rolling Stone magazine reported that a Canadian search plane had detected “banging sounds” in 30-minute intervals within the search area. The report, based on internal communications from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, could not be independently verified.

— One of the ships heading to the search area is carrying a French-operated robot capable of operating at the depth where the Titanic sits. It is not expected to reach the scene until Wednesday evening.

— Leaders in the submersible craft industry had warned for years of possible “catastrophic” problems with the vehicle’s design. They also worried that OceanGate Expeditions, the Titan’s owner, had not followed standard certification procedures.

— Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate, was piloting the submersible, according to the company. The other four passengers are Hamish Harding, a British business owner and explorer; a British Pakistani business owner, Shahzada Dawood, and his teenage son, Suleman; and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French maritime expert who has been on more than 35 dives to the Titanic wreck site.

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