The U.S. Navy declared its plans on Tuesday to send its advanced deep-water lifting system to aid in the effort to recover a submersible that went missing on Sunday in the Atlantic Ocean after it took tourists to visit the Titanic wreck.
The salvage system and subject matter specialists are likely to reach on Tuesday evening in St. Johns, Newfoundland in Canada. The personnel of the Navy and equipment support the unified command spearheaded by the U.S. Coast Guards, collaborating its rescue and recovery efforts with the Canadian forces and the vessel’s parent company, OceanGate Expeditions.
It is a complex search effort, requiring subject matter specialization and specialized equipment, Jamie Frederick, Coast Guard Captain, explained to the reporters.
He added that while the U.S. Coast Guard has taken up the search and rescue mission coordinator role, they do not have all the expertise and equipment needed in search of this kind.
The minivan-sized submersible, dubbed the Titan, initially just had a 96-hour oxygen supply before it vanished on Sunday with five individuals onboard, including the pilot of OceanGate and four other passengers who had paid $250,000 for an eight-day expedition to visit the Titanic wreckage.
By midday on Tuesday, the vessel only had just 40 hours of oxygen remaining, Frederick mentioned, adding pressure to find it. He said the team has been working nonstop to gather available assets and the expertise to bear as soon as possible to solve this complex issue.
The specialized equipment the Navy sent out on Tuesday is the Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System. It is a portable lift system designed to locate and recover bulky sunken objects like aircraft or other small vessels weighing up to 60,000 pounds.
It belongs to the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (abbreviated the SUPSALV), which extends operational, technical, and emergency support for such missions.
Last year, for instance, SUPSALV’s crew members helped recover an F-35 stealth fighter jet, which reportedly sunk almost 12,400 feet below in the South China Sea. Their crew members set a record in 2021 when they successfully pulled up an MH-60S helicopter that had plunged 19,075 feet off the Okinawa coast in Japan.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been conducting searches almost 900 miles off the Cape Cod coast at the surface level, underwater with sonar technology, and by air.
Besides, the U.S. military also sent out its three C-17 planes loaded with rescue-specific cargo and equipment from Buffalo in NY to St. Johns. A massive commercial pipe-laying vessel, empowered with two advanced remote-control underwater vessels, also reached the scene earlier on Tuesday to support the search.
The hope is that the new equipment can reach the depths needed to locate and recover the missing vessel. The Titanic, in the meantime, is located approximately 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada, at a depth of about 12,600 feet. Over 1,500 individuals died when the RMS Titanic submerged on its maiden voyage from Southampton in England to New York City on 15 April 1912.
References: Daily Mail, Time
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