On Thursday June 22, 2023, the United States Coast Guard announced the Titan had suffered a "catastrophic implosion" leaving all five passengers dead.
The OceanGate submersible lost contact with the Canadian expedition ship, Polar Prince, on Sunday, June 19, less than 2 hours after being deployed. A massive search that lasted five days ended in tragedy.
Why did the Titan implode? Investigators are looking for answers.
Why did the Titan implode? Here's what we know.
The 22-foot carbon-fiber and titanium craft known as the Titan, was on a tourist excursion to the Titanic, which according to CNN, "rests 12,500 feet below sea level." One hour and 45 minutes into the trip, all communication was lost. Rear Admiral John Mauger of the U.S. Coast Guard announced in a press conference that they found "two patches of debris, one containing Titan's tail cone and the other its landing frame, suggesting that they came apart after the vessel collapsed," per the BBC.
The BBC also reported that the "pattern of the debris suggests that at some point in the Titan's journey there was a leak." Based on how deep the vessel was, an estimated tens of thousands of tons of pressure would have surrounded the craft, which is "equivalent to the weight of the Eiffel Tower." Had the hull remained intact, those on board would have been fine but a breach would "compress the vessel and disintegrate its carbon fiber body," said the outlet.
What will investigators do next?
Ryan Ramsey, former submarine captain in Britain's Royal Navy, told the BBC, "There is no black box, so you are not going to be able to track the last movements of the vessel itself." He added, "But otherwise the process of investigation is not dissimilar to that of an airplane crash." The focus will be on where the fissure occurred on the Titan's body, which will be made difficult by the size of the debris.
In an effort to cobble together a timeline, experts are looking at the disconnect between the Titan and the Polar Prince. Robert Kraft, a deep-sea explorer who has located missing ships in the ocean, told the Associated Press, "The time delay between declaring a submersible sunk and notification to outside resources and emergency responders appears to be excessive." In all likelihood, this was due to the fact that the Titan had a history of communication failures.
"The vessel used a rudimentary system that basically communicated with the surface ship through text message," said Salvatore Mercogliano, a history professor at Campbell University in North Carolina who focuses on maritime history and policy. "And so what it appears is when they lost communications, they did not assume that this was a disaster at all," he told he AP.
Who is responsible for finding out what happened to the Titan?
Admiral Mauger admitted that the investigation is a little tricky, as it falls under no clear jurisdiction. Also, there isn't any protocol for situations that involve a submersible. He thinks that the Coast Guard will take the lead because they were an integral part of the search and rescue mission.
The investigation will probably take a close look at the shocking lack of certification of those on board the Titan. Bob Ballard, a member of the research team that discovered the Titanic in 1985, told Good Morning America that this was "'the smoking gun' in the case of the Titan submersible," via the Boston Herald.