Remember this? OceanGate tragedy unanswered questions, a year later

Remember this? OceanGate tragedy unanswered questions, a year later

It’s been a year since the OceanGate tragedy, although it feels like a lifetime ago. Sadly, there are still many unanswered questions about what transpired to the Titan submersible.

On 18 June 2013, the underwater vessel imploded shortly after descent, killing five men on board, including the pilot. The men were part of an expedition to visit the shipwreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean.

OCEANGATE TRAGEDY: WHAT HAPPENED?

On Sunday, 18 June 2023, the OceanGate submersible Titan began its voyage to visit the shipwreck of the Titanic.

On board were five “billionaires”: businessmen Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

A year ago today Titan, a submersible operated by OceanGate Expeditions, imploded while attempting to view the wreck of the Titanic, killing all five people on board including the co-founder and CEO of the company, Stockton Rush in the North Atlantic Ocean. pic.twitter.com/feGEIw33Rx

— 𝖍𝖊𝖓𝖙𝖊 (@hente_afsc) June 18, 2024

Stockton Rush, the CEO and founder of OceanGate, piloted the 6.7-metre-long submersible, which was constructed from carbon fibre, a lightweight material.

The trip was meant to be a two-hour dive to the shipwreck and was billed as an opportunity to “become one of the few to see the Titanic with your own eyes.”

According to Reuters, OceanGate priced the seats on the vessel at up to $250,000 (R4,5 million) each.

Two hours later, after the descent, authorities lost signal with the vessel. A rescue mission began a race against time to find the vessel before the oxygen onboard ran out. During this time, the world waited with bated breath for any update.

Sadly, four days later – on 22 June – coastguards confirmed the worst; Titan had imploded shortly after departure, likely over underwater pressure, and all five men on board had died as a result.

The OceanGate submersible, the Titan, which imploded after its descent. Image via Facebook.

Speaking in a press briefing on Thursday, First Guard District Commander Admiral John Mauger confirmed the OceanGate tragedy following extensive rescue efforts.

Muager revealed that authorities had discovered a “debris field” from the Titan sub near the Titanic shipwreck.

He said in a press conference: “This is an incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the sea floor, and the debris is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel.

“I can only imagine what this has been like for them, and I hope that this discovery provides some solace during this difficult time.”

An OceanGate spokesperson confirmed the men’s deaths, telling The Independent: “These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans.

“Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time.”

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS A YEAR LATER

A year after the OceanGate tragedy, several unanswered questions remain.

They include;

Were the bodies of the five men onboard the Titan ever discovered?

Although authorities, wreckage “presumed to be human bodies” were discovered in the debris field. According to MailOnline, no bodies have been found to date.

What were the banging sounds heard by authorities?

According to reports, a banging sounds – presumed to be SOS signals from the passengers – were heard by the US Navy. The mystery of the audio has never been solved.

A Canadian aircraft picked up on banging sounds suspected to be from the Titan submarine on sonar. #OceanGate #titanicsubmarine pic.twitter.com/i083Ua0WB3

— Deaky (@dooscarfox) June 21, 2023

Why wasn’t the sound of the implosion reported?

According to the BBC, the US Navy detected sounds “consistent with an implosion” shortly after OceanGate’s Titan submersible lost contact. However, they labelled them “not definitive.”  Amid this, an extensive search and rescue mission continued.

This information was only made public after OceanGate confirmed the implosion on 22 June.

The men onboard Titan – the missing vessel billed to visit the Titanic shipwreck – died in an implosion.
Images via INDRANIL MUKHERJEE, AFP/ Instagram: @oceangateexped

Why was the Titan expedition given the go-ahead, despite safety concerns?

Many critics have blamed the “cheap” materials used to construct the Titan for its buckling under deep sea pressure and imploding.

According to CBS, in 2018, a professional marine trade group warned OceanGate that its “experimental approach” to the design of the Titan could lead to potentially “catastrophic” outcomes. That same year, an OceanGate employee was fired for expressing his concerns about Titan, which was operated with a video game controller and made of inferior and untested materials.