The carbon-fiber submersible Titan, part of a mission by OceanGate Expeditions, carried a pilot, a renowned British adventurer, two members of an iconic Pakistani business family and another passenger. Authorities reported the submersible overdue Sunday night about 700 kilometers south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, according to Canada's Joint Rescue Coordination Center.
Every passing minute puts the Titan's crew at greater risk. The submersible had a 96-hour oxygen supply when it put to sea at roughly 6 a.m. Sunday, according to David Concannon, an adviser to OceanGate.
“It is a remote area — and it is a challenge to conduct a search in that remote area,” said Rear Adm. John Mauger, a commander for the U.S. Coast Guard, which also is searching for the Titan. “But we are deploying all available assets to make sure we can locate the craft and rescue the people on board.”
The Canadian research icebreaker Polar Prince, which was supporting the Titan, reportedly lost contact with the vessel about an hour and 45 minutes after it submerged. Two U.S. Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft also have conducted overflights.
The Coast Guard said Monday that there was one pilot and four “mission specialists” aboard. However, OceanGate's website suggests that the fifth person aboard may be a so-called “content expert” who guides the paying customers.
OceanGate said its focus was on those aboard and their families.
“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 said in a statement.
British businessman Hamish Harding, who lives in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, was one of the mission specialists, according to Action Aviation, a company for which Harding serves as chairman. The company’s managing director, Mark Butler, told the AP that the crew set out on Friday.
“There is still plenty of time to facilitate a rescue mission, there is equipment on board for survival in this event,” Butler said. “We’re all hoping and praying he comes back safe and sound.”