Titan Submersible Embraces the Fate of Titanic

The Titan was a submersible, a cutting-edge deep-sea exploration vehicle designed to withstand extreme pressures and depths. On its last undersea tourism trip to the drowned Titanic, it faced a tragic accident that claimed five lives. The incident raised questions about the safety of deep-sea submersibles and the protocols in place to manage risk.

On that fateful day of June 18, 2023, the world was rocked by a tragedy. It sends shockwaves through the entire oceanic community. Titan, a submersible operated by OceanGate, was exploring the wreckage of Titanic in the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean. The destination was about 400 nautical miles (740 km) off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

1. Occean Gate Inc.

OceanGate Inc. is a private U.S. company based in Everett, Washington. It provides crewed submersibles for tourism, industry, research, and exploration. The company started business in 2009 by Stockton Rush and Guillermo Söhnlein. OceanGate acquired a submersible vessel, Antipodes, and later built two of its own: Cyclops 1 and Titan.  In 2021, OceanGate began taking paying tourists in the Titan to visit the wreck of the Titanic

Titan Submersible
Titan Submersible

As of 2022, the price to one person on an OceanGate expedition to the Titanic shipwreck was US$250,000 per person. In June 2023, the Titan submersible imploded during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck site. Five occupants on board, including Rush faced death. An international search-and-rescue operation started on June 22. The wreckage was found on the seabed near the Titanic wreck site.

The company has faced hurdles in executing its excursions to the Titanic. It has faced a series of mechanical problems and inclement weather conditions. There were instances of cancellation or delays of trips in recent years. The scuttled excursions led to a pair of lawsuits. Some high-paying customers sought to recoup the cost of trips they said they didn’t take.

The Titan Expedition

The submersible was carrying five people, all eager to witness the haunting wreckage of the unfortunate Titanic. But fate had other plans. As Titan descended deeper into the abyss, something went terribly wrong. Communication with the submersible was lost just 1 hour and 45 minutes into its dive. The authorities started scrambling to locate the missing vessel. The world held its breath as the search for Titan and its occupants began.

For nearly 80 hours, the oceanic community held its collective breath. The search and rescue teams scoured the ocean floor for any sign of the missing submersible. Finally, a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) deployed from Canada’s Horizon Arctic vessel. The ROV discovered a debris field containing parts of Titan. It was located about 500 meters (1,600 ft) from the bow of the Titanic.

The Rescue Campaign

The U.S. Navy’s sonar detection had picked up an acoustic signature consistent with an implosion around the time communications with the submersible ceased. It was a chilling realization that the pressure vessel had imploded while Titan was descending. That presumably resulted in the instantaneous loss of all five unlucky souls inside the submersible.

The tragedy of Titan’s implosion will forever remain an unsloved mystery in the annals of oceanic history. It serves as a stark reminder of the dangers that lurk in the depths of the ocean. The accident highlights the importance of safety protocols in all underwater expeditions. May the souls of those lost in this tragedy rest in peace.

It is time to examine the events that led up to the accident, the factors that contributed to it. Questions also arise about the response efforts that followed. We will also explore the lessons learned and the implications for the future of submersible technology.

2. Introduction to the Titan Submersible

The Titan submersible was a state-of-the-art underwater vehicle for deep-sea exploration. It was equipped with advanced technology that allowed it to descend to depths of over 4,000 meters. It was one of the most advanced submersibles in the world.

However, a tragic accident occurred during one of its missions. The accident resulted in the loss of Five lives onboard and the destruction of the vehicle. Here we will explore what happened, the factors that contributed to the accident, and communication in ensuring safety in high-risk environments.

Competency of the Occean Gate & Titan

According to a report by USA Today, OceanGate, the company that operated the Titan submersible, has stated that it has completed at least 14 expeditions and more than 200 dives in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico. The Titan submersible itself had completed over 50 test dives. That includes to depths similar to those of the Titanic, both in waters around the Bahamas and the pressure chamber. However, there is no specific information available on the number of trips it completed to the Titanic wreck site.

3. The Tragic Accident

On a routine mission to explore the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean, the Titan submersible suddenly malfunctioned. It was descending to the ocean floor towards the wreckage of the Titanic that drowned on April 15, 1912. There still is no accurate finding as to what exactly happened. The submersible eventually crashed onto the ocean floor, causing significant damage and resulting in the loss of FIVE lives.

Timeline of Events

The Journey to death started on Friday, June 18, 2023.

  • Friday: The expedition sets off from St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.
  • Saturday: British billionaire and adventurer Hamish Harding, posts on Facebook: “Due to the worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years, this mission is likely to be the first and only crewed mission to the Titanic in 2023. A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow.
  • Sunday 8 am GMT/4 am ET: Time the submersible originally aimed to start its descent, according to a post by Harding on Instagram. It actually started its descent later.
  • 12 pm GMT/8 am ET: The submersible starts for a two-hour descent to the Titanic wreck, nearly 4,000 meters down.
  • 1.45 pm GMT/9.45 am ET: Communications between the submersible and the surface vessel was lost 1 hour and 45 minutes after starting its descent.
  • 7 pm GMT/3 pm ET: Titan has to return to the surface, but fails to appear.
  • 9.40 pm GMT/5.40 pm ET: US Coast Guard receives a report about an overdue submersible from the research vessel Polar Prince about 900 nautical miles east of Cape Cod on the US coast.
  • Monday: US and Canadian ships and planes are swarming the area, some dropping sonar buoys that can monitor to a depth of almost 4,000 meters.

The US Coast Guard announced that the vessel suffered a ‘catastrophic implosion’. A “debris field” matching the submersible was discovered by a robotic deep-sea vessel. 

4. Factors that Contributed to the Accident

An investigation into the accident will continue. Nobody yet knows if the world will ever knoe the exact reasons and the details of the accident. Like many other unfortunate accidents the Titan mystry will shroud in the history. It will however raise question about the ethical validity of such adventures at the first place. There are many other question about the security factors and alternate rescue arrangements.

Environmental Factors

The depth at which the Titan submersible was operating was one of the deepest parts of the ocean. Thee intense pressure at those depths made the environment particularly challenging. The pressure had put a significant strain on the submersible’s systems, which likely contributed to the malfunction that caused the accident.

Human Error

We don’t know and perhaps will never know the the primary cause of the accident. Was it an equipment malfunction, human error or another external unknown unexpected reason, nobody knows the truth. Additionally, there was no reliable communication between the Titan and the lauching ship. There was no rescue submersible arrangement to dive for help in case of emergency.

5. The People Onborad

The crew of the Titan submersible consisted of five people, including three Britons, a Frenchman, and an American. The crew members were:

  1. Hamish Harding: A British billionaire and adventurer who was the chairman of Dubai-based private plane firm Action Aviation. He held three Guinness World Records, including the longest duration at full ocean depth by a crewed vessel.
  2. Shahzada Dawood: A Pakistani investor and UK-based board member of the Prince’s Trust charity. He was also the vice-president for the Engro Corporation- Pakistan, which makes fertilizers, food, and energy.
  3. Suleman Dawood: The 19-year-old son of Shahzada Dawood, who was a student at Strathclyde University in Glasgow.
  4. Paul-Henri Nargeolet: A French diver and explorer who was a resident of New York.
  5. Stockton Rush: The CEO of OceanGate, the company that operated the Titan submersible.

All five crew members have presumeably died after the US Coast Guard said that the vessel had suffered a ‘catastrophic implosion’1

Communication Protocols

The Titan submersible communicated with its mother ship, the Polar Prince, by text messages. The submersible was required to communicate every 15 minutes, according to OceanGate Expeditions’ archived website. With no GPS underwater, the Titan have had an acoustic link with its surface vessel. The link was set up through a transponder (a device for receiving a sonar signal) on its end, and a transceiver (a device that can both transmit and receive signals) on the surface vessel.

6. Rescue and Recovery Efforts


After the Titan submersible went missing on its way to the Titanic wreckage, a massive search and rescue operation was launched off the eastern coast of Canada. An international team led by the US Coast Guard, US Navy, and Canadian Coast Guard was searching the missing submersible. 

Support was provided by aircraft from the Royal Canadian Air Force and United States Air National Guard, a Royal Canadian Navy ship, as well as several commercial and research vessels and remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs). After several days of searching in a remote area of the North Atlantic, the US Coast Guard announced that the submersible had suffered a ‘catastrophic implosion’. 

Titan Wreck Site
Titan Wreck Site

A debris field matching the submersible was discovered by an ROV deployed from Canada’s Horizon Arctic vessel. The debris field was found close to the wreckage of the Titanic, about 500 meters (1,600 ft) from its bow.


The mission then turned from rescue to recovery. However, it is unclear if any human remains will be recovered from the site. The US Coast Guard has said that many questions remain unanswered after the discovery of debris near the Titanic indicating that the submersible imploded. The incident is currently under investigation by authorities.

Emergency Response Plan

According to OceanGate the submersible was required to communicate every 15 minutes with its mother ship, the Polar Prince, by text messages. With no GPS underwater, the Titan would have had an acoustic link with its surface vessel.

7. Challenges Faced During Rescue

The search and rescue mission for the Titan submersible posed significant challenges due to the depth and complexity of the operation. The search area was vast, covering the ocean’s surface and the depths beneath, in case the submersible had come up but was unable to communicate. The effort could have been the deepest search and rescue mission ever attempted.

Wreckage of Titanic
Wreckage of Titanic

A rescue effort would have had to contend with limited visibility, extremely high pressure, and an ocean floor crowded with pieces of the Titanic’s wreckage. All that hinderences made sonar identification of the Titan difficult. The submersible’s limited oxygen supply also made the search urgent. The search-and-rescue operations for the Titan were an unusual case, as measured by the complexity, costs, time sensitivity, and scale.

Unlike search-and-rescue operations on the ground that can be undertaken by volunteers and with little or no equipment, marine search and rescue is a highly specialized operation. It requires high-tech equipment, tools, training, coordination, and capacity. In this case, the search-and-rescue area was not in square kilometers or miles. Rather, it was in cubic measurements (3D). The vessel could have been anywhere around the surface, in shallow or deep waters, or on the ocean floor. 

While there were capable teams with the needed equipment and training, they were not sufficient to cover a large area with limited information or uncertainty about the situation

8. Lessons Learned and Future Implications

The Titan submersible accident has raised questions about the safety and regulation of high-risk adventure tourism. The Boston Globe published an editorial. It staes that the deaths of the five passengers aboard the Titan submersible should be a wake-up call to stop letting wealthy tourists gallivant in outer space or the deep seas without any regulation at all. 

The editorial also compared the incident to the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. The horrible accident led to many countries updating their maritime safety laws. The move culminated in the first International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. The incident has also highlighted the need for better safety measures and regulations for submersibles. A submersible expert told CNN that he had warned OceanGate, the company that operated the Titan submersible, about safety concerns before the accident.

9. Long-Term Implications for Submersible Technology

The incident has also highlighted the need for better safety measures and regulations for submersibles. A submersible expert told CNN that he had warned OceanGate, the company that operated the Titan submersible, about safety concerns before the accident.

It remains to be seen what specific lessons will be learned from this tragedy, but it is clear that there is a need for better regulation and safety measures in high-risk adventure tourism. Is there anything else you would like to know? 

10. The Ethical Implications

The ethical implications of this tragedy include questions about the responsibility of companies offering high-risk adventure tourism, as well as the enforceability of waivers signed by passengers. There are also jurisdictional considerations and potential criminal charges that may arise from this incident. 

Additionally, there are ethical and moral questions about whether it is right to allow wealthy tourists to engage in high-risk activities without proper regulation and safety measures in place. It remains to be seen what specific lessons will be learned from this tragedy, but it is clear that there is a need for better regulation and safety measures in high-risk adventure tourism

Moving Forward After Tragedy

The tragedy involving the Titan submersible was a devastating event that had a profound impact on the subsea industry. However, by learning from the lessons of this tragedy, we can move forward and ensure that the safety of submersible crew members is always a top priority.

We owe it to those who lost their lives in this incident to do everything in our power to ensure that it never happens again.The tragedy that occurred with the Titan submersible serves as a stark reminder of the risks involved in deep-sea exploration. While the incident was devastating, it has spurred important conversations and changes in safety protocols across the industry.

By examining what happened and working to improve safety measures, we can continue to push the boundaries of scientific discovery. We need to ensure the foolproof protection of the lives of those who venture into the depths.

  • uhayat
  • The author has rich management exposure in banking, textiles, and teaching in business administration.