New York Air National Guard assisting in search for missing Titanic submersible
The New York Air National Guard is assisting in the search and rescue operation for the missing Titanic tourist submersible.
The boat went missing Sunday with five people onboard and 96 hours worth of oxygen.
The New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, based in Westhampton Beach, launched an HC-130J Combat King search and rescue aircraft Monday and Tuesday at the request of the Coast Guard.
There were 13 Airmen on board including a team of pararescue jumpers. The aircraft flew 900 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean and searched a designated area using forward looking infrared radar and onboard observers.
Captain Chris Colwell spent 11 hours in the air on the mission Monday.
“And conditions were not good, visibility was less than 1 mile, it was foggy,” Colwell said.
But their C-130s with radar capability is searching for the 21-foot vessel across a vast surface, which according to the Coast Guard, is now at 7,600 square miles which is larger than the state of Connecticut.
However, those search efforts have not yielded any results.
One glimmer of hope announced Tuesday is that a newer vessel with rare capabilities of reaching the 13,000 foot depths could get closer to the Titanic wreckage.
“Today the vessel ‘Deep Energy’ – 194 meter pipe-laying vessel arrived on scene with underwater ROV capability,” said Coast Guard Capt. Jamie Frederick.
Friends of some of the missing hope that remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, can somehow make the difference if those onboard are still alive — among them businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, renowned Titanic research Paul-Henri Nargeolet, British billionaire Hamish Harding and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush.
Former ABC News Science Correspondent Dr. Michael Guillen recalled an eerily similar scare when he made the same trip below the surface more than two decades ago. His vessel collided with the Titanic’s propeller.
“I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone,” Guillen said. “I’m just worried and I’m heartsick because I know exactly what it feels like.”
Authorities reported the carbon-fiber vessel overdue Sunday night, setting off the search in waters about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Aboard were a pilot, renowned British adventurer Hamish Harding, two members of an iconic Pakistani business family and a Titanic expert.
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 Expeditions, which oversaw the mission.
That means the oxygen supply could run out Thursday morning.
OceanGate’s expeditions to the Titanic wreck site include archaeologists and marine biologists. The company also brings people who pay to come along, known as “mission specialists.” They take turns operating sonar equipment and performing other tasks in the submersible.
The expedition was OceanGate’s third annual voyage to chronicle the deterioration of Titanic, which struck an iceberg and sank in 1912, killing all but about 700 of the roughly 2,200 passengers and crew. Since the wreckage’s discovery in 1985, it has been slowly succumbing to metal-eating bacteria.
OceanGate’s website described the “mission support fee” for the 2023 expedition as $250,000 a person.