A small submarine ferrying tourists to view the Titanic has not contacted its accompanying surface ship since Sunday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard is searching for five individuals reported aboard Canadian research vessel Polar Prince. The search area is about 900 miles east of Cape Cod, according to a Coast Guard press release.
The New York Post further reported:
A veteran French diver aboard the missing Titanic-bound submersible made a chilling warning a few years ago about the perils of diving to the abyss – saying: “You’re dead before you realize that something is wrong.”
Paul-Henry Nargeolet, 77, a former French navy diver known as “Mr. Titanic,” was asked in 2019 by the Irish Examiner whether he ever got scared diving 12,500 feet to reach the famous passenger liner’s wreckage.
“If you are 11m or 11km down, if something bad happens, the result is the same,” the Connecticut resident told the outlet. “When you’re in very deep water, you’re dead before you realize that something is happening, so it’s just not a problem.”
Nargeolet, who specializes in piloting submersibles, broke the record for the deepest submersible dive, at 35,853 feet below the surface, after his 25-year navy career.
In 1987, he was part of the first human expedition to visit the Titanic’s wreck, which was first discovered two years earlier by famed explorer Robert Ballard, the UK’s Telegraph reported.
Since then, he has visited the ghostly ship at least 35 times and was the first person to recover a remnant at the site — a silver plate, according to the outlet.
Nargeolet, who wrote “In the Depths of the Titanic” last year, admitted that he pushed the envelope to reach the ship, which sank on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage from the UK to New York City.
“You stand down four, five, six, seven eight hours, which is the longest, and even then you don’t really want to come back up. Sometimes I go to the end of the (sub) batteries and sometimes even more than to the end,” he said last year.
“Indeed, I’ve been told off for doing so several times. Then the resurfacing takes just as long so one can be down between 10 to 12 hours,” Nargeolet added.
British billionaire Hamish Harding, who is also on the missing OceanGate Expeditions sub, confirmed Saturday that Nargeolet was onboard the Titan.
“The team on the sub has a couple of legendary explorers, some of which have done over 30 dives to the RMS Titanic since the 1980s including PH Nargeolet,” Harding wrote on social media.
Also reported missing on the submersible are OceanGate Expedition founder and CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood, 48, one of the wealthiest men in Pakistan, and his son Sulaiman Dawood, 19.
Meanwhile, OceanGate adviser David Concannon said paperwork has been holding up a group with special assets that could help rescuers locate the missing sub.
Concannon, who said he was supposed to be part of the expedition before canceling, told NewsNation that the equipment was waiting in the Guernsey Channel Islands but that the personnel did not receive authorization to depart.
“(They are) the same group, the experts, that did the advanced survey of the Titanic last year,” Concannon said. “They are mobilized. They’re sitting on the tarmac, ready to go. We have a ship off Newfoundland that is ready to take them to the site.”
He continued: “We have people whose lives are at stake. You have to move. We have assets that are ready to go and they’re sitting and waiting.”
Concannon blamed government bureaucracy for the delay.
“This equipment has been on the tarmac for hours. When I communicate with the US government, I get ‘out of office’ replies, not from everyone, but from key people that have a sign-off on this, That’s unacceptable,” he told NewsNation.
“I don’t want to discourage the government officials that are helping because they’re doing their jobs, but we need to do it quicker,” Concannon added. “Getting there in the 96-hour window before the occupants run out of oxygen — that’s the most important factor. That’s what we have been focused on 100% of the time.”
Concannon, an attorney, said on Facebook that he was “supposed to be on this expedition and, indeed, on this dive, but I had to cancel to attend to another urgent client matter.
“Last night, I was called and asked to provide whatever assistance I could to ensure the safe return of everyone in the sub. Of course, I immediately agreed,” he wrote.
OceanGate said it is “exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely.”
“Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families,” the company said in a statement.
“We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible,” it added.