After several days of searching for the Titan, the submersible which was sent down with five people inside to view the Titanic wreckage, it was recently confirmed that the sub had imploded. The news led to heartbreak for those who knew someone on board, but also left the many people who had closely followed the story with a few unanswered questions.
Among those questions was whether it would ever be possible to recover the bodies of the five people who died on board, and what exactly happened to the bodies in the aftermath of the implosion.
What would have happened to the bodies on the Titan?
As morbid and strange as it may sound, the odds of ever recovering any remains of those who died on Titan are almost zero. During a press conference on June 22, 2023, Rear Admiral John Mauger said that he couldn't say what the prospects of recovering bodies would be.
"This is an incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the sea floor and the debris is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel," he said.
"And so we’ll continue to work and continue to search the area down there, but I don’t have an answer for prospects at this time," he continued.
The debris that was discovered is consistent with a sudden inward collapse of the Titan. It was traveling down to the Titanic wreckage, which is about 13,000 ft. below sea level, and while it's unclear how deep the Titan was when it imploded, it was likely most of the way down to the wreckage.
Aileen Maria Marty, a former Naval officer and professor at Florida International University, told CNN that the collapse would have been instantaneous. "The entire thing would have collapsed before the individuals inside would even realise that there was a problem," she said. "Ultimately, among the many ways in which we can pass, that’s painless."
There may not be any remains to recover.
Given the astounding amount of pressure and the instantaneous way that the Titan collapsed, it seems unlikely that there are any remains left to be recovered. The amount of pressure that would have been instantly placed on the bodies likely means that the people were left in a state more like cremation, simply scattered across the ocean floor in a way that wouldn't at all resemble how they once looked.
As dark and morbid as that may seem, it's also clear that the deaths of the five individuals on board was a complete surprise and totally painless. They didn't suffocate after attempting to find help for days. Instead, the Titan simply collapsed around them because of the weight of all the water they were up against.
It's a tragic story, undoubtedly, but also one that spared its victims of any unnecessary suffering.
"Our thoughts are with the families and making sure that they have an understanding as best as we can provide of what happened and begin to find some closure," Mauger said during the press conference.