The rescuers called to save the doomed Titan submersible have recalled the moment they discovered debris on the ocean floor and realized all five men onboard were dead.
Tourists Hamish Harding, 58, Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his son Sulaiman Dawood, 19, French Navy pilot Paul-Henry Nargeolet, and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush all died on the submersible.
There was a desperate search for the vessel, owned and operated by Ocean Gate Expeditions, which was taking a crew to see the wreckage of the Titanic 12,500 feet underwater at $250,000 a head. A team at Pelagic Research Services, which operates remote-operated vehicles thousands of meters below the surface, was tasked with finding the Titan before it ran out of oxygen.
The Pelagic Research Services immediately became involved in the search for the missing submersible and were told the Titan’s oxygen was predicted to run out in four days. The Odysseus, which is one of the few remote-operated vehicles (ROV) capable of reaching the depths of the Titanic wreck, was launched.
It was supposed to hook on to the Titan and bring it up 3,000 meters where it would be joined by another ROV which would help bring it to the surface. But the team discovered an area of debris around 1,600 feet away from the Titanic wreck and they immediately fell silent.
‘We’d spent four or five days… expecting to go down there and perform a miracle,’ deep sea expert Jesse Doren told Sky. ‘Obviously, our sense of disappointment is miniscule compared to the people who are close to the families of those who were lost.’
The families of the five men on board were then informed about their death and the team began a salvage operation. Cassano addressed the media to explain what happened several days later. He choked back tears and apologized before explaining that his team were still processing ‘a lot of emotions’.
‘We were always thinking about the crew of the Titan. We were always thinking about the families. we’re thinking about what was the best way for us to execute a rescue, knowing that we were limited in time, knowing that the submarine was a large object to recover.
We still had to do things safely because it’s a lot of people at risk, a lot of equipment at risk, and you want to do it right,’
‘We knew we had one shot at this.’ There is an ongoing investigation into the tragedy by the Canada Transportation Safety Board.