Titan Submersible Still Missing
Ocean search crews are still trying to locate the missing OceanGate sub believed to be thousands of feet beneath the surface of the ocean near the historic Titanic wreckage. Officials expect the deep-sea craft to run out of breathable oxygen at some point on Thursday morning. The sub went missing on Sunday during an expedition to the Titanic’s wreckage. Roxana Saberi has the latest on the search for the sub and they have on Art Trembanis, a professor of marine science who has worked directly with OceanGate, who joined CBS News to talk about the vessel and possible rescue options.
The Dangers of Submersible Diving to the Titanic Shipwreck
Diving to the Titanic, or any deep-sea wreck, can be inherently dangerous due to several factors:
- Extreme Water Pressure: The Titanic lies approximately 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. At such depths, the water pressure is immense, exerting about 380 times the pressure at sea level. This extreme pressure can pose a significant risk to the structural integrity of the submersible and its occupants. Any failure or breach in the hull could have catastrophic consequences.
- Limited Escape Options: When exploring the Titanic, divers are often confined to small, specialized submersibles designed for deep-sea exploration. These vehicles have limited space and may only accommodate a few people. In the event of an emergency, such as equipment failure or loss of communication, there are limited options for a swift escape or rescue.
- Cold and Unforgiving Environment: The water surrounding the Titanic wreck is frigid and can be near freezing temperatures. The extreme cold can rapidly lead to hypothermia and other cold-related injuries if proper precautions are not taken. Additionally, the depths at which the Titanic rests are devoid of light, and the environment can be pitch black, making navigation and exploration challenging.
- Decompression Sickness: As divers descend to great depths, the increased pressure causes the absorption of more nitrogen into their bodies. Ascending too quickly without proper decompression can lead to decompression sickness, commonly known as “the bends.” This condition can cause severe pain, joint and muscle problems, and, in extreme cases, even death. Proper decompression procedures and equipment are necessary to mitigate this risk.
- Structural Hazards: The Titanic wreck itself is a fragile and deteriorating structure. Exploring the wreck carries the risk of encountering sharp edges, collapsing sections, or entanglement hazards. Disturbing the wreckage can also cause silt or debris to be stirred up, reducing visibility and potentially disorienting divers.
- Remote Location: The Titanic wreck site is located in a remote part of the North Atlantic Ocean. The distance from shore and the limited availability of support resources can impede rescue and recovery efforts in case of an emergency.
Given these factors, diving to the Titanic requires meticulous planning, specialized equipment, experienced personnel, and a thorough understanding of the risks involved. It is typically undertaken by skilled deep-sea exploration teams and researchers with extensive training and preparation.