June 22, 2023 - Missing Titanic sub crew killed after 'catastrophic implosion'

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Rob Picheta, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond, Matt Meyer, Tori B. Powell and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, June 23, 2023
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3:06 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

Debris was "consistent with catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber," Coast Guard says

The debris found on the sea floor was "consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber," the Coast Guard said.

The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) found the tail cone of the Titan on the sea floor about 1,600 feet away from the bow of the Titanic and other debris nearby, according to Rear Adm. John Mauger, the First Coast Guard District commander.

The debris was analyzed by experts, he said, and the families of the passengers were notified.

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

2:54 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

OceanGate says it believes passengers on missing sub "have sadly been lost"

From left, Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood, Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Stockton Rush
From left, Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood, Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Stockton Rush Obtained by CNN

OceanGate said Thursday that it believes the passengers of the Titanic-bound submersible have “sadly been lost,” according to a statement from the company.

“We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost,” the company said in a statement.

“These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans,” according to the statement. “Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time. We grieve the loss of life and joy they brought to everyone they knew.”

The company added:

"This is an extremely sad time for our dedicated employees who are exhausted and grieving deeply over this loss. The entire OceanGate family is deeply grateful for the countless men and women from multiple organizations of the international community who expedited wide-ranging resources and have worked so very hard on this mission. We appreciate their commitment to finding these five explorers, and their days and nights of tireless work in support of our crew and their families.

This is a very sad time for the entire explorer community, and for each of the family members of those lost at sea. We respectfully ask that the privacy of these families be respected during this most painful time."

2:42 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

Debris found on ocean floor has been assessed to be from the external body of the Titan sub

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez

The debris discovered within the search area of the missing Titanic submersible has been assessed to be from the external body of the sub, according to a memo reviewed by CNN.

The search for the crew capsule of the Titan vessel continues, the memo says.

The debris was located on the ocean floor, roughly 500 meters (about a third of a mile) off of the bow of the Titanic, and it was found around 8:55 a.m. ET.

It was discovered by a remotely operated vehicle that was searching the seafloor, according to the US Coast Guard.

The discovery came at an urgent time for the search and rescue effort. Experts say the sub and its five passengers would be reaching the limit of the sub's roughly 96 hours of life support, having gone missing Sunday morning.

1:35 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

Expert describes how a search vehicle could find debris on the pitch-black sea floor

The vehicles used to search the sea floor for the missing Titan submersible are powerful machines that can be piloted through pitch-black darkness by an operator on the surface, Mike Welham, a marine operations specialist and author, told CNN.

One of the remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, involved in the search discovered a debris field, according to the US Coast Guard and the vehicle's creator, Pelagic Research Services. It is not yet clear if the debris field is related to the missing submersible.

ROVs are very large and powerful, equipped with lights, cameras and technology that make them "purpose built to go to those depths," Welham told CNN's Dana Bash on Thursday.

The search vehicle is connected to a vessel that remains on the surface of the water as it drops down to the seabed. Once an ROV reaches deep sea, a pilot on the ship has to get oriented to its precise location.

"They will then begin a search pattern," Welham explained.

"It's pitch black down there, so the lights are going out in front of it, and the camera will be recording everything that happens in front of (it)," he told Bash. "The pilot of the vehicle — who is up on the ship — he will manage it and fly it in a grid pattern, an agreed pattern, where they can search and look for anything untoward on the seabed."

Welham said now that the search team has honed in on a debris field, the ROV will gather more video and try to determine whether the field is new debris related to the sub or part of the Titanic wreck itself.

1:09 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

Company confirms its vehicle found debris field in Titanic submersible search area

From CNN’s Paul P. Murphy

In this undated photo, a Pelagic Research Services remotely operated vehicle is prepared to assist in the search for the missing OceanGate submersible.
In this undated photo, a Pelagic Research Services remotely operated vehicle is prepared to assist in the search for the missing OceanGate submersible. Pelagic Research Services

A spokesperson for Pelagic Research Services confirmed to CNN that its remotely operated vehicle, which was the first to conduct a search for the missing OceanGate sub on the sea floor, found the debris field.

The US Coast Guard announced earlier today that a debris field had been found in the search area.  

Pelagic Research Services describes itself on its website as “an ocean services company that brings expedition planning, execution and state of the art sub-sea research tools to the ocean community on a global basis."

12:49 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

Expert says debris fields aren't uncommon near Titanic, but officials may have seen something that stood out

The US Coast Guard will go through a verification process to determine whether a debris field found in the search area for the missing Titanic submersible is related to the sub, Maximilian Cremer, the director of the Ocean Technology Group at the University of Hawaii Marine Center, told CNN.

The Coast Guard announced Thursday that a debris field was found using a remotely operated vehicle, but it remains unclear if it is connected in any way to the missing submersible. 

Cremer would "not be surprised to find a debris field near the wreck of the Titanic," he said in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash.

"I would have to see what it actually is," he continued, adding that he's unsure if the search vehicle transmits video.

Bash asked Cremer whether he believes it means anything that the US Coast Guard — which is also clearly aware of the debris types typically found on the ocean floor — made a point to share the news about the field.

"It could tell me that somebody saw something within the debris that they have, I guess, on camera or on sonar, that lets them assume that it might not be from the Titanic, that it might be from the stricken vessel," Cremer said.

"I'm sure they're now going through a verification process to see if it is actually associated with the stricken sub," he added.

On the sub's oxygen supply: Bash also asked about the submersible's oxygen supplies. The sub is now believed to be reaching the limits of its typical 96 hours of life support, having gone missing Sunday morning.

Experts interviewed by CNN have said crew members would realize that remaining calm and conserving energy was critical if they were awaiting rescue.

If there was an issue with the sub, "whatever failure it was," it's fair to assume "you would have some excitement and some panic going on for a brief period of time," Cremer said.

But, he continued, a "strong leader" on board would likely insist that everyone goes into "a sort of hibernation state, and uses as little oxygen as possible."

1:30 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

US Coast Guard will discuss "findings" on the sea floor near the Titanic later today

A member of the Coast Guard walks by a Coast Guard Cutter in Boston on June 20.
A member of the Coast Guard walks by a Coast Guard Cutter in Boston on June 20. Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images

A US Coast Guard briefing at 3 p.m. ET will focus on the findings from a remotely operated vehicle "on the sea floor near the Titanic," according to news release from the Coast Guard.

Moments ago, the Coast Guard announced a debris field was discovered in the Titanic submersible search area, and authorities are “evaluating the information."

Here's who will be a part of the briefing later today:

  • Rear Adm. John Mauger, the First Coast Guard District commander
  • Capt. Jamie Frederick, the First Coast Guard District response coordinator

The briefing will be held at the Coast Guard Base in Boston.

1:01 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

US Coast Guard says debris field has been discovered within the Titanic submersible search area

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane flies over French research vessel L’Atalante about 900 miles east of Cape Cod during the search for the Titan submersible on June 21.
A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane flies over French research vessel L’Atalante about 900 miles east of Cape Cod during the search for the Titan submersible on June 21. US Coast Guard

The US Coast Guard says a debris field was discovered by a remotely operated vehicle near the Titanic submersible search area, and authorities are “evaluating the information,” officials tweeted Thursday.

It is unclear if this debris field is connected to the missing submersible. 

The US Coast Guard also has announced a press briefing at 3 p.m. ET.

12:55 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

OceanGate co-founder says time remaining to rescue passengers is longer than "what most people think"

From CNN's Gabe Cohen and Kristina Sgueglia

While life support supplies are now believed to be running low, a co-founder of the company that operates the missing Titanic submersible says he believes the crew's expertise will extend the "window available" for rescue.

Guillermo Söhnlein made the comments in a statement to CNN. He specified he was speaking on behalf of himself and not the company, OceanGate.

He said OceanGate CEO and co-founder Stockton Rush — who is aboard the sub — and the rest of the crew would have "realized days ago that the best thing they can do to ensure their rescue is to extend the limits of those supplies by relaxing as much as possible."

Based on the crew members' expertise, the "window available" for rescue is longer than "what most people think," Söhnlein said. 

Thursday will be a "critical day in this search and rescue mission," he added.

"I continue to hold out hope for my friend and the rest of the crew," Söhnlein said. "I would encourage everyone to remain hopeful for getting the crew back safely."

Time is of the essence: The amount of oxygen on the missing submersible, which has five people on board, is becoming a vital issue, experts have told CNN.

The Titan sub, which begins each trip to explore the wreckage of the Titanic with an estimated 96 hours of life support, has been missing since Sunday morning, setting up Thursday morning as a key target for finding the vessel and those on board.

The 21-foot submersible, with its rudimentary controls and no room for passengers to stretch out, would also have "limited rations" of food and water, according to officials.

A fellow adventurer and retired Navy captain interviewed by CNN have also said the crew would know to conserve oxygen by resting and remaining as calm as possible.

CNN's Nouran Salahieh contributed to this report.