A submersible used to take tourists to view the Titanic shipwreck in the Atlantic Ocean went missing off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, on Monday morning.
Petty Officer Lourdes Putnam of the US Coast Guard told The New York Times that they were searching for the submersible in the North Atlantic Ocean.
The submersible, owned by OceanGate Expeditions, takes paying tourists to tour the Titanic shipwreck, among other deep-sea expeditions.
“Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families,” OceanGate said to CBS News. They did not include whether or not paying customers were aboard or where exactly it went missing.
A search and rescue effort is underway to locate and find the submersible as well as any people on the submersible.
Here’s everything we know so far about the missing submersible.
On Monday morning, reports emerged that a commercial submersible had gone missing in the North Atlantic Ocean near the Titanic shipwreck.
Petty Officer Lourdes Putnam of the US Coast Guard in Boston confirmed to The New York Times that they were searching for the watercraft, which is owned by OceanGate Expeditions.
OceanGate deploys submersibles and crew for deep-sea expeditions. The company offers individuals the opportunity to explore the Titanic shipwreck for $250,000 on a five-person submersible.
The company had recently deployed an expedition to the Titanic shipwreck, according to its Twitter page.
However, the submersible seems to have lost connection at some point in the voyage, prompting concerns.
The US Coast Guard launched a search and rescue mission on Monday.
In the afternoon, the Coast Guard tweeted that the craft had lost contact with its surface vessel one hour and 45 minutes into its dive, which began on Sunday morning.
“The @USCG is searching for a 21-foot submersible from the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince,” they tweeted.
The Coast Guard said it was looking for a five-person crew.
“Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families,” OceanGate told CBS News.
They added that they are “deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to establish contact with the submersible.”
The Independent has reached out to OceanGate Expeditions and the US Coast Guard for comment.
Where did it go missing?
As of Monday morning, it was unclear where exactly the submersible may have lost communication, but it is somewhere around the Titanic shipwreck.
The Titanic shipwreck sits approximately 12,500 feet at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
It is about 380 nautical miles south of Newfoundland, Canada and 1,240 nautical miles east of New York City.
Its coordinates are 41º43’32”N, 49º56’49”W.
The Coast Guard said they were searching for the missing sub approximately 900 miles east of Cape Cod.
Who was on board?
OceanGate did not confirm how many people were on board but its website says its submersibles can fit up to five people. The Coast Guard indicated they were searching for a five-person vessel.
One of those believed to be on board is a British billionaire explorer.
Hamish Harding, who has previously travelled on the Challenger Deep to the bottom of the ocean and on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin into space, took to Facebook on Saturday to announce that he was joining OceanGate Expeditions for its Titanic mission this week.
He has not posted online since.
On Monday – as news of the missing submersible broke – Mr Harding’s stepson Brian Szasz confirmed that his stepfather was on board the vessel when it went missing.
“Hamish Harding my step father has gone missing on submarine thoughts and prayers,” he wrote on Facebook, sharing family photos and articles.
“Thoughts and prayers for my Mom and Hamish Harding,” he added.
In a follow-up post, he added: “Thoughts and prayers for my stepfather Hamish Harding as his Submarine has gone missing exploring Titanic. Search and rescue mission is underway.”
OceanGate offers excursions to shipwrecks and other deep-sea voyages for paying customers. Those who want to see the Titanic shipwreck can pay up to $250,000, according to its website.
In recent years, trips to view the Titanic shipwreck have become increasingly popular.
The Titanic sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg while on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York, New York. Of the 2,200 people onboard, more than 1,500 died.
The US passed the Titanic Maritime Memorial Act in 1986, marking the RMS Titanic as an international maritime memorial, allowing for reasonable research, exploration and appropriate salvage activities.
So long as the research or exploration does not alter or disturb the Titanic, people may view it or research it.
The company’s statement to CBS only included the mention of crewmembers. They did not clarify whether or not there were paying customers aboard the sub.