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Crews searching for the tourist submarine that went missing on June 18 while exploring the Titanic shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean have detected “underwater noises” in the search area on June 20.
The U.S. Coast Guard said on Twitter late at night that the noises were picked up by a Canadian P-3 aircraft, prompting remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to be relocated to explore the origin of the sounds.
Those ROV searches have “yielded negative results but continue,” the agency said.
“Additionally, the data from the P-3 aircraft has been shared with our U.S. Navy experts for further analysis which will be considered in future search plans,” the agency added.
According to internal email updates sent by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) National Operations Center and obtained by Rolling Stone, the Canadian aircraft deployed to search for the missing Titan submersible detected “banging” noises coming from the search area “every 30 minutes.”
“RCC Halifax launched a P8, Poseidon, which has underwater detection capabilities from the air,” the DHS emails read, according to the publication. “The P8 deployed sonobuoys, which reported a contact in a position close to the distress position. The P8 heard banging sounds in the area every 30 minutes. Four hours later additional sonar was deployed and banging was still heard.”
The email added that “the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre is working to find an underwater remote-operated vehicle through partner organizations to possibly assist,” according to the publication.
The Epoch Times has not been able to independently verify the emails.
Missing Passengers Identified
Elsewhere, Richard Garriot de Cayeux, president of travel and research group The Explorers Club—of which one of the passengers aboard the missing submersible, billionaire Hamish Harding, is a member—said in a statement posted to Twitter on June 21 that there is “cause for hope, based on data from the field.”
“We understand that likely signs of life have been detected at the site,” the club president wrote.
The Epoch Times has contacted the Boston Coast Guard, which is leading the rescue efforts, for further comment.
The 21-foot tourist submersible, operated by OceanGate Expeditions, was reported missing on Sunday about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland after it failed to return to the Polar Prince, the Canadian research ship from which it was launched.
Officials said the submersible lost contact with the crew of the Polar Prince approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes into the vessel’s dive.
A search and rescue mission has been ongoing since but experts have warned that the oxygen supply onboard is fast running out.
The latest update comes after the five people on board the missing tourist submarine have been identified as billionaire Harding, who is the current chairman of Dubai-based Action Aviation, a global sales company in business aviation, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, and French diver and Titanic expert, Paul-Henri Nargeolet.
In a statement late Tuesday, RMS Titanic President Jessica Sanders said that Nargeolet’s knowledge of the wreck site “is unparalleled” and that “we trust and have faith his experience will help navigate this critical situation.”
“We are devastated with the news but remain steadfast in our hope for a safe rescue for all,” Sanders said.
OceanGate Employee Filed Lawsuit
As recovery efforts continue, OceanGate Expeditions is facing increased scrutiny after reports emerged that the company was previously the subject of a 2018 lawsuit filed by an employee who claimed to have been fired after raising safety concerns over how deep the vessel could descend.
David Lochridge, OceanGate’s director of marine operations, claimed in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle that the craft needed more testing and that passengers might be at risk if it reached “extreme depths.”
He was reportedly sued by OceanGate that same year for breaching his non-disclosure agreement. In a counterclaim, Lochridge alleged that he was wrongfully fired for raising questions about testing and safety. The case was eventually settled on undisclosed terms several months after it was filed.
According to OceanGate, the submersible is a Cyclops-class vehicle designed to take five people to a maximum depth of 13,100 feet (4,000 meters) to survey the site of the Titanic shipwreck.
A tour guide typically accompanies the pilot and three passengers in the 22-foot (6.7-meter) carbon-fiber vessel, which is lighter in weight and more “cost-efficient to mobilize than any other deep diving submersible.”
The vessel is also equipped with Real Time Hull Health Monitoring systems that provide an “unparalleled safety feature” and “early warning detection for the pilot with enough time to arrest the descent and safely return to surface,” according to OceanGate.
In an emailed statement to The Associated Press, a spokesman for the company said the missing sub was completed in 2020–2021, and is not the same one that Lochridge was referring to in his lawsuit against the company.
The Epoch Times has contacted OceanGate Expeditions for further comment.