Five men aboard the Titan submersible died after a ‘catastrophic implosion’ due to immense pressure in the ocean’s depths, authorities say.
The US Coast Guard last night announced the devastating news that robotic search devices had found a ‘debris field’ close to the Titanic wreck in the Atlantic.
The Titan submersible, operated by US firm OceanGate, started its dive to Titanic on Sunday morning but all contact with its mothership was lost shortly after.
During early search efforts, banging noises were detected in 30-minute intervals by underwater sonar devices called ‘sonobuoys’.
It had been speculated that the banging was SOS noises made by the men inside the sub, giving hope that they were still alive and waiting to be rescued.
But experts say the men would have been crushed as soon as the sub encountered trouble – so what were the banging noises?
According to experts, the ‘banging’ could have been from search equipment in the area, marine life such as whales or even just sounds from the depths of the Atlantic
The US Coast Guard announced the devastating news on Thursday that robotic search devices had found a ‘debris field’ close to the Titanic wreck
According to experts, the ‘banging’ could have been from search equipment in the area, marine life such as whales or even just sounds from the depths of the Atlantic.
Dr Jamie Pringle, Reader in Forensic Geosciences at Keele University, thinks the sound was ‘manmade’.
‘The ocean is a very noisy place with passing ships, submarines, fishing vessels, and indeed search vessels in this case,’ he told MailOnline.
‘Noises can come from any source and sound waves don’t always travel radially outwards from a source, as water bodies are most often layered and sound waves travel along these.
‘Noise from the Titanic wreck at that water depth would also be unlikely to travel to the surface.
‘The fact that it was every 30 minutes suggests a manmade cause and not vessel propellers which are continuous.’
US Coast Guard Captain Jamie Frederick had announced on Wednesday that the ‘banging’ had been detected by sonobuoys, fueling speculation that it was the five men hitting the sub’s titanium hull.
But even if they hadn’t been killed by the implosion on Sunday, it’s unlikely hitting Titan’s titanium hull by hand would have been picked up, as it wouldn’t have been very loud.
‘Obviously sources need to be progressively larger to travel further distance and 3.8km [12,000 feet] of water is very deep to propagate to the surface and be able to be measured,’ said Dr Pringle.
‘Note this is speculation – we don’t have the raw data to analyse.’
US Coast Guard Capt. Jamie Frederick, right, said sounds and banging noises were heard from the search area for Titanic submersible
One of the final pictures of the OceanGate Expeditions Titan sub before it started its fateful descent to the Titanic wreck
During search efforts on Tuesday, banging noises were detected in 30-minute intervals by underwater sonar devices called ‘sonobuoys’
Matthew Schanck, founder of maritime search and rescue organisation Marsar International, also suspects a manmade origin.
‘Our understanding is the noise could have a number of sources,’ he told MailOnline. ‘The subsurface of the ocean is a noisy environment.
‘But given the high density of vessels in the area operating their propulsion systems and heavy machinery/equipment in the area, this may have been picked up by sonobuoys.’
Ships that deployed remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in the search – including the mothership Polar Prince – also would have caused underwater noise, Schanck said.
Schanck doesn’t think the noise would have come from the Titan debris, although it may come from the Titanic ‘if there is loose metal moving around’ – but surface vessels and ROVs deployed in the search were the most likely cause.
Stefan B. Williams, a professor of marine robotics at the University of Sydney, told Business Insider marine wildlife ‘like whales’ could even have caused the noise.
The North Atlantic is home to several whale species, including the North Atlantic right whale and the mighty blue whale.
Jeff Karson, professor of earth and environmental sciences at Syracuse University, already said any interpretation that the banging was coming from the men was ‘wishful thinking’ and was likely ‘junk’, maybe from the Titanic debris.
‘Is it really banging or just some unidentified sound? I think that is a more accurate description right now,’ he said.
‘There’s no telling where the sound is coming from or how far away it is.
‘Personally, I’m worried that sound may be coming from something that’s far from where they need to be looking.’
If rescue crews do manage to locate the missing submarine (file photo of the Titan) thousands of feet below sea level, they face a series of barriers and an incredibly complex mission to retrieve the vessel that is unlike any ever performed
Five people were onboard, including British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding and Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, who was just 19
French Navy veteran PH Nargeolet (left) was in the sub along with Stockton Rush (right), CEO of the OceanGate Expedition
The banging was detected by sonobuoys, devices that were initially developed to detect German U-boats during the Second World War.
Any underwater acoustic signals detected by the hydrophone, caused by a nearby U-boat for example, would then be relayed to the aircraft via the radio transmitter.
But sonobuoys are now used for a variety of purposes including in search and rescue operations.
They can map the location of an airplane crash site, a sunken ship or survivors at sea, and were used in 2014 during the fruitless search missions to locate missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
James Cameron blasts hunt for Titan as ‘prolonged nightmarish charade’: Director claims US knew vessel had ‘imploded’ HOURS after it lost contact
Titanic director James Cameron said he predicted Titan’s implosion days before the debris from the missing submersible was found, calling the search a ‘prolonged nightmarish charade’.
Mr Cameron, also a submersible expert who has visited the world’s most famous seawreck 30 times, said the new tragedy has parallels with the 1912 disaster.
The five on the Titan were killed instantly when the submersible suffered a ‘catastrophic implosion’ just 1,600ft from the bow of the wrecked ocean liner, the US Coast Guard announced yesterday.
A remotely operated submarine from a Canadian ship found debris on the ocean floor.
Mr Cameron told BBC News that the search ‘felt like a prolonged and nightmarish charade where people are running around talking about banging noises and talking about oxygen and all this other stuff’.
‘I knew that sub was sitting exactly underneath its last known depth and position. That’s exactly where they found it,’ he said.