June 21, 2023 - Missing Titanic sub search news

By Helen Regan, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Ivana Kottasová, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 1:12 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023
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6:22 p.m. ET, June 21, 2023

Navy salvage system is in St. John’s and preparing for mobilization, Navy official says

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

A US Navy salvage system has arrived in St. John’s, Newfoundland, a Navy official said Wednesday, as crews prepare it for mobilization to the site of the ongoing search for a missing submersible. 

The Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System (FADOSS) is capable of retrieving objects or vessels off the bottom of the ocean floor up to a depth of 20,000 feet, more than enough to reach the wreckage of the Titanic.

But before the FADOSS system can be used, it must be welded to the deck of a ship, a process which can take a full day, the official said.

“Our estimate is approximately 24 hours of round-the-clock operation to weld it and secure it to the deck of the vessel prior to getting underway,” the official said on a call with reporters.

The Navy does not currently have a vessel lined up to carry the FADOSS to the site, but the official said they are trying to contract a vessel soon. 

“We have a vessel of opportunity that we are looking to put under charter, but it is not currently under charter,” said the official. 

The FADOSS was most recently used to recover a F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet from the Mediterranean Sea last July. Its deepest recovery to date was at 19,075 feet, the Navy official said.

Asked if it had ever recovered someone alive, the official said, “Usually, we’re recovering objects from the bottom or aircraft from a mishap.”

4:52 p.m. ET, June 21, 2023

Weather near search site has been cooperative for the last few days, CNN meteorologist says

Searching a remote part of the ocean comes with myriad challenges for rescuers, but the weather has at least been on their side for the last 96 hours, CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers said Wednesday.

There are 3 to 6-foot ocean swells in the area of the search, which is about 900 miles off Cape Cod, he said. There are a few clouds hanging around Wednesday afternoon, but forecasts have not shown a big change in wind direction or any systems that could make efforts more difficult, Myers said.

The temperature is somewhere between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit near the Titanic wreck site, he said, but that dramatically changes once in the water. Water temperatures at deeper depths where the submersible could be located are near 39 degrees, Myers said.

Watch the forecast:

3:55 p.m. ET, June 21, 2023

Here's what we know about the pilot of the missing Titanic submersible he helped build

From CNN's Allison Morrow

Stockton Rush is seen in an undated photo from OceanGate.
Stockton Rush is seen in an undated photo from OceanGate. From OceanGate

Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate and one of five people on the submersible missing in the North Atlantic, has cultivated a reputation as a kind of modern-day Jacques Cousteau — a nature lover, adventurer and visionary.

Rush has approached his dream of deep-sea exploration with child-like verve and an antipathy toward regulations — a pattern that has come into sharp relief since Sunday night, when his vessel, the Titan, went missing.

Rush, who graduated from Princeton in 1984 with a degree in aerospace engineering, has said that he never really grew out of his childhood dream of wanting to be an astronaut, but his eyesight wasn’t good enough, according to an interview he gave Smithsonian Magazine in 2019. He founded OceanGate in 2009, with a stated mission of “increasing access to the deep ocean through innovation.”

OceanGate currently operates three submersibles for conducting research, film production, and “exploration travel,” including tours of the site of the Titanic more than 13,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. A seat on that eight-day mission costs $250,000 per person.

Rush, who is 61, said he believes deeply that the sea, rather than the sky, offers humanity the best shot at survival when the Earth’s surface becomes uninhabitable.

“The future of mankind is underwater, it’s not on Mars,” he told Estrada. “We will have a base underwater… If we trash this planet, the best life boat for mankind is underwater.”

In his eagerness to explore, Rush has often appeared skeptical, if not dismissive, of regulations that might slow innovation.

The commercial subversive industry is “obscenely safe” he told Smithsonian, “because they have all these regulations. But it also hasn’t innovated or grown — because they have all these regulations.” Even within OceanGate, warnings from employees about safety appear to have been ignored or disregarded.

Read more

3:37 p.m. ET, June 21, 2023

School attended by Pakistani national onboard submersible says it is "deeply concerned" by vessel's disappearance 

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy

The school attended by Suleman Dawood, a Pakistani national onboard the submersible that went missing near the Titanic wreckage, said it is “deeply concerned” by the vessel’s disappearance. 

ACS Cobham, an international school south of London, said in a statement that its “thoughts are with the Dawood family” and it offered support during “this unprecedented event.”

Suleman Dawood, who attended ACS Cobham, was accompanied on the submersible by his father, Shahzada Dawood, a Pakistani billionaire and the vice chairman of Engro Corporation Limited, one of Pakistan’s largest conglomerates. 

3:24 p.m. ET, June 21, 2023

"We have to hold out hope," Horizon Maritime Services representative says

The company that owns the Polar Prince told reporters Wednesday that “we have to hold out hope,” as the search and rescue mission for the Titan continues.

The Polar Prince is the support vessel to that took OceanGate’s Titan out for its expedition and is now assisting with search and rescue.

“The equipment that’s been mobilized for this is the finest in the world, the most capable in the world,” the co-founder and chair of Horizon Sean Leet said. “We have to hold out hope. I think as you’re aware, there’s still life support available on the submersible and we’ll continue to hold out hope until the very end.”

Leet also said he’s never seen such a response for a search and rescue mission.

“I’ve been in the marine industry since a very young age and seen a lot of different situations, and I’ve never seen equipment of that nature move that quickly,” Leet added. “The response from the US Coast Guard, the US Military, folks at the airport, the people here, various companies who were involved in the mobilization of that equipment…it was done flawlessly.”

3:13 p.m. ET, June 21, 2023

Locating sonar noise is like trying to pinpoint a snare drum in a packed concert stadium, dive expert says

Various environmental factors in the ocean are likely complicating efforts to identify noises heard on sonar as the search for a missing submersible continues into its fourth day, according to one diving expert.

Rick Murcar, who is the international training director for the National Association of Cave Divers and the owner of Aquatic Adventures of Florida Inc., explained that sound travels faster in the water — which is making it more challenging for rescuers to pinpoint where it is coming from. 

Things like the currents can deflect the sound so that it appears like it is coming from miles away from where the actual source is.

The Coast Guard said an aircraft picked up on noises Tuesday and Wednesday in the Atlantic Ocean. It relocated equipment to the area, but so far, efforts to figure out what was making the sound have not yielded any results, the Coast Guard said.

Murcar said to think of this effort to locate the noise as trying to pinpoint a specific drum in a stadium full of cheering fans and other instruments.

“Picture a massive stadium that has a roof on it, and you have an aircraft flying over top and it drops sensors down to listen to the sound inside that stadium,” he said. The person inside the stadium is playing a snare in a constant, beating pattern, in addition to all of the other drums he has, Murcar said.

Now, to narrow down the location of that snare, he said, analysts have to first get rid of all of the other environmental noises.

“They have to negate any aspect of the impact that the boating plays into the equation,” he said. In the stadium analogy, this would be things like the fans, the guitars and the keyboards.

“And then we’re going to put it in the dark,” Murcar said. “Once they can actually get down to where the drum set is, and the couple square feet that that's taking up, they have to negate each and every individual drum to find the very distinctive one that tells them it's a piccolo snare."

"Then they're going to go look for it with an ROV (a remotely operated vehicle) — with a flashlight in their hand,” he added, completing the analogy.

3:27 p.m. ET, June 21, 2023

Searchers are "very aware of the time sensitivity" in submersible search, Polar Prince owner says

Sean Leet, the co-founder and chairman of Horizon Maritime Services, speaks during a press conference in St. John, Newfoundland, on Wednesday.
Sean Leet, the co-founder and chairman of Horizon Maritime Services, speaks during a press conference in St. John, Newfoundland, on Wednesday. CTV Network

Searchers are “very aware of the time sensitivity around this mission,” a representative of the company that owns the Polar Prince said Wednesday afternoon.

The Polar Prince is the support vessel that carried OceanGate’s Titan submersible to the site of the Titanic shipwreck, and it's now assisting with search and rescue.

Sean Leet, the co-founder and chairman of Horizon Maritime Services, which owns the Polar Prince, also said the company mobilized additional equipment to help with the search Thursday morning.“We are very aware of the time sensitivity around this mission,” Leet said.

He acknowledged how hard it must be for those on the submersible and their families.

“The marine industry in this region is no stranger to responding to difficult incidents,” Leet said. “We work together to ensure every possible effort is put to bringing people home. The people on board the Titan and their families are our focus. We care deeply about their wellbeing. All of us here in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, the United States and around the world are unified in this work.”
3:01 p.m. ET, June 21, 2023

Polar Prince, the submersible's support vessel, will remain in the area until search is complete

The Polar Prince, the vessel that transported the Titan submersible to the dive site, will be assisting in search efforts until the mission is complete, according to the co-founder of the company that owns the support ship.

The role of the Polar Prince is to help the US Coast Guard which is leading the search and rescue, said Sean Leet, the co-founder and Chairman of Horizon Maritime Services.

"The Polar Prince captain and crew have been steadfast in providing support during this difficult time," he said at a news conference Wednesday.

The former Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker has been supporting the Titanic expedition for several years, Leet said, adding that the emergency procedures on the Polar Prince "kicked in immediately."

He said he remains in contact with the crew of 17 people on board the Polar Prince.

"Our crews and on-shore teams are experts in their fields and will continue to support this effort in any way we can," Leet said.

1:12 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

Horizon Maritime will hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m.

From CNN's Gabe Cohen and Miguel Marquez

Horizon Maritime, which owns the Polar Prince – the support vessel that took OceanGate’s Titan out for the expedition to the Titanic and is now assisting with search and rescue – will hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m. ET in St. John's, Newfoundland, according to a news release.