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US military confirms ‘underwater noises’ near search area

The OceanGate Expeditions submersible. — OceanGate Expeditions

The Boston Coast Guard Wednesday confirmed detecting “underwater noises in the search area” where the OceanGate Expedition’s Titan submersible had gone missing, hours after news regarding “banging” sounds heard by a Canadian aircraft was reported.

The development was confirmed by the coast guard in a tweet.

“Canadian P-3 aircraft detected underwater noises in the search area. As a result, ROV operations were relocated in an attempt to explore the origin of the noises. Those ROV searches have yielded negative results but continue,” the tweet mentioned.

The tweet further stated that 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 confirmation has raised hopes for “likely signs of life” detected around the area. The sounds were reported to have been heard every 30 minutes, as the search for the five crew members aboard the vessel rigorously continues.

An American news publication, Rolling Stone, has reported the development by obtaining information related to internal e-mail updates sent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership.

“RCC Halifax launched a P8, Poseidon, which has underwater detection capabilities from the air,” the e-mails read.

“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.”

However, the announcement did not mention the time when the banging was heard and what could have caused it as a multi-agency and multi-government effort expanded to find the divers having less than 30 hours of oxygen now.

According to the report, “the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre is working to find an underwater remote-operated vehicle through partner organisations to possibly assist.”

Site of search

The Titan submersible’s crew lost communication with its support surface vehicle, the Polar Prince, one hour and 45 minutes after starting a dive to explore the Titanic wreck on Sunday.

— Seasearcher via BBC
— Seasearcher via BBC

The ruin of the 114-year-old cruise is located 435 miles (700 km) south of St John’s in Canada’s easterly province, Newfoundland; however, the rescue operation is being coordinated from Boston, Massachusetts, in the US.

‘Likely signs of life’

Richard Garriot de Cayeux, President of The Explorers Club, confirmed in a Tuesday night social media post that “there is cause for hope”.

In a statement, he said: “We have much greater confidence that 1) 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 21-foot (6.5-meter) submersible, named Titan, was carrying three fee-paying passengers when it vanished Sunday: British billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani tycoon Shahzada Dawood and Dawood´s son Suleman.

OceanGate Expeditions, which runs the Titan’s trips, charges $250,000 for a seat.

The company’s CEO Stockton Rush and French submarine operator Paul-Henri Nargeolet, nicknamed “Mr Titanic” for his frequent dives at the site, are also aboard.

US Coast Guard Captain Jamie Frederick told reporters Tuesday that his organisation was co-ordinating the search.

But, he said, it was incredibly difficult, and far beyond what the coast guard would normally tackle.

“While the US Coast Guard has assumed the role of search and rescue mission coordinator, we do not have all of the necessary expertise and equipment required in a search of this nature,” he said.

“This is a complex search effort, which requires multiple agencies with subject matter expertise and specialized equipment.”

Frederick explained that rescuers were using multiple methods as they comb the vast area for the Titan, which lost contact with its mothership just two hours into its dive near the Titanic’s watery grave.

“The search efforts have focused on both surface with C-130 aircraft searching by sight and with radar, and subsurface with P3 aircraft, we’re able to drop and monitor sonar buoys.”

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