International rescue crews are racing against the clock in search of a missing submersible in the North Atlantic Ocean with five occupants believed to be on board.
Less than 16 hours worth of breathable oxygen remain aboard the crippled vessel as of latest update Wednesday afternoon.
Titan, a five-person submersible operated by OceanGate was over half-way into what was an anticipated two-and-a-half hour dive to the wreck of the Titantic when it lost contact with the chartered research vessel responsible for operations early Sunday morning.
"The coast guard has coordinated search efforts with the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard, Air National Guard aircraft and the Polar Prince, which have searched a combined 7,600 square miles — an area larger than the state of Connecticut," U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jamie Frederick told media during a press briefing on Tuesday.
— USCGNortheast (@USCGNortheast) June 21, 2023
Late Tuesday, a Canadian aircraft covering the search grid in the Atlantic detected intermittent "banging" noises from the vicinity of its last known location, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Crews reported hearing banging sounds every 30 minutes Tuesday evening, and again Wednesday after additional sonar devices were scrambled to the area.
"Although the ROV searches have yielded negative results, the noises continue. Additionally, the data from the P-3 aircraft has been shared with the U.S. Navy for further analysis," Capt. Frederick said in a Wednesday press briefing.
Who is on board the submersible ship?
As rescue crews continue their desperate search for the missing submersible, we are learning more about the identities of those aboard.
Stockton Rush, 61 — Vessel pilot and OceanGate Chief Executive
A spokesperson for OceanGate has confirmed that Stockton Rush, the company's chief executive officer was piloting the vessel that has since gone missing in the North Atlantic.
Rush, who had always dreamed of becoming an astronaut and completed an aerospace degree from Princeton, turned his focus to the ocean depths when he was told that his 20/25 eyesight would keep him earth-bound.
Rush had been an avid scuba diver from an early age, telling the Independant in a 2017 interview “I wanted to sit in a submarine and watch crabs fighting to the sound of Mozart for two hours.”
This resulted in the adventure-lover to launch his own company with the aim of "increasing access to the deep ocean through innovation of the next generation of crewed submersibles and launch platforms."
Since 2009, his Washington-based company OceanGate has sank Mt. Everest climbers, moviemakers and nautical archaeologists to depths that have previously been unexplored.
Hamish Harding, 58 — British billionaire and Chairman of Action Aviation
British billionaire and avid adventurer Hamish Harding is among those missing as confirmed by a social media post made by Harding which reads that he was proud to be heading to the Titanic as a "mission specialist."
RMS TITANIC EXPEDITION
I am proud to finally announce that I joined @OceanGateExped for their RMS TITANIC Mission as a mission specialist on the sub going down to the Titanic.@ExplorersClub @actionaviation @One_More_Orbit #PolarPrince
Full story at:https://t.co/7UWUrKGyTQ
— Hamish Harding (@ActionAviation0) June 17, 2023
Harding was also on board the 2019 "One More Orbit" flight mission that set a record for the fastest circumnavigation of earth by aircraft over both geographic poles.
"He doesn't stand still. If he's not working hard, he's exploring hard," said Jannicke Mikkelson, an explorer and friend of Hamish.
Harding holds three Guinness World Records, including the longest duration at full ocean depth by a crewed vessel when in March 2021, he and ocean explorer Victor Vescovo dived to the lowest depth of the Mariana Trench.
Shahzada Dawood, 48 and son Suleman, 19— Vice-Chairman of Pakistan-based Engro Corporation
“Our son Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman, had embarked on a journey to visit the remnants of the Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean. Contact has been lost with their submersible craft and there is limited information available,” reads a statement released by Dawood's family.
Shahzada is vice chairman of one of Pakistan's largest conglomerates, Engro Corporation, with investments in fertilisers, vehicle manufacturing, energy and digital technologies.
According to the website of SETI, a California-based research institute of which he is a trustee, he lives in Britain with his wife and two children. Shahzada's interests include wildlife photography, gardening and exploring natural habitats, while Suleman is a fan of science fiction literature, according to a statement from the Dawood Group.
Shahzada is also a supporter of two charities founded by King Charles — the British Asian Trust and the Prince's Trust International.
A palace spokesperson said the King has asked to be kept fully up to date with the rescue operation and his "thoughts and prayers are with all those onboard."
Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77 — French explorer and former commander of French Navy
Paul Henri Nargeolet is a 77-year-old French explorer and former navy commander who is also known as “Mr Titanic."
After retiring from the navy, he led the first recovery expedition to the Titanic in 1987 and is a leading authority on the wreck site.
After laying eyes on the site of the wreck for the first time inside the submarine lit up by projectors, he says he, along with his team members were left speechless.
“For 10 minutes, there was no sound on the submarine.”
In a 2020 interview with France Bleu radio, he spoke of the dangers of deep diving, saying: "I am not afraid to die, I think it will happen one day."
OceanGate Expeditions have released a statement posted to social media on June 19 which reads "we are exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely."