Canada begins investigation into Titanic-bound submersible implosion

The Titan submersible, operated by OceanGate Expeditions to explore the wreckage of the sunken SS Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland. (Photo: OceanGate Expeditions/Reuters)

The development comes as US and Canadian authorities started looking into what caused the underwater implosion and debated who was in charge of deciding how the tragedy played out.

The area in the North Atlantic where the vessel was sunk, killing all five on board, is being searched by maritime agencies. The wreckage it was heading to explore was several hundred feet away from the debris, which was situated about 12,500 feet (3,810 meters) underwater.

According to Kathy Fox, chair of the transportation board, "We are conducting a safety investigation in Canada given that this was a Canadian-flagged vessel that departed a Canadian port and was involved in this incident, even though it occurred in international waters."

"It's up to other agencies whether or not to conduct investigations."

On June 16, the Polar Prince departed Newfoundland while pulling the tragic Titan. There were 41 people on board, including the five who perished when Titan exploded: 24 additional passengers and 17 crew members.

Fox stated that she is aware of the global interest and that, within the bounds of Canadian law, the TSB will share the data it gathers with other organizations, such as the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard.

According to her, Canadian law protects witness statements and voice recordings.

“Our investigation will go where the evidence leads us,” she added. “We don’t want to duplicate efforts. We want to collaborate.”

Additionally, on Saturday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police declared that they had begun an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Titan deaths to determine whether a full investigation was necessary. Officials stated that a thorough investigation would only be conducted if it appeared that a criminal, federal, or provincial law might have been broken.

The initial search and rescue operation, which involved a huge international effort and probably cost millions of dollars, was headed by the Coast Guard.

Who would be in charge of overseeing what will undoubtedly be a complex investigation involving several nations was not entirely clear.

Although the Titan's owner and operator, OceanGate Expeditions, is based in the US, the submersible was registered in the Bahamas. Everett, Washington-based OceanGate shut down after the Titan was discovered.

The Polar Prince, the Titan's mother ship, was from Canada, and those who perished were from the US, Pakistan, England, and France.

The Titan submersible's loss has been deemed a "major marine casualty" by the US Coast Guard, according to a statement from the National Transportation Safety Board on Friday. The Coast Guard will also be in charge of the investigation.

The Coast Guard has not formally declared that it will assume command.

Given the murky ocean depths, deep-sea investigations are expected to take a long time and require a lot of labor.

Rear Admiral John Mauger of the Coast Guard's First District said, "Down there on the seafloor, this is an incredibly unforgiving environment."

The lack of regulation in the deep-sea exploration industry makes it difficult to predict how the investigation as a whole will proceed.

Any investigation is likely to include the Titan as a critical component. Due to the vessel's unusual design and the creator's refusal to submit to independent inspections that are common in the sector, concerns have been raised about whether it was destined for disaster.

The Titan was neither registered as a US vessel nor with any international safety organizations. Additionally, it wasn't classified by a body representing the maritime industry that establishes standards for things like hull design.

Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate, lamented that regulations can stifle innovation while he was operating the Titan when it imploded.

"Bringing an outside entity up to speed on every innovation before it is put into real-world testing is anathema to rapid innovation," Rush wrote in a blog entry on the website of his business.

When the implosion most likely took place is one issue that appears to have been at least partially answered. An "anomaly" Sunday that was consistent with an implosion or explosion in the general area where the vessel was operating when communications were lost was discovered by the Navy after the Titan was reported missing, according to a senior US Navy official.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive acoustic detection system, said that the Navy gave the information to the Coast Guard, which continued its search because the data was not deemed conclusive.

Around 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John's, Newfoundland, the Titan was reported as being late that afternoon. It had left its launch pad at 8 a.m. that morning. Rescue workers hurried ships, aircraft, and other supplies to the scene.

When the Coast Guard revealed that debris had been discovered close to the Titanic early on Thursday, any remaining hope of finding the crew alive was destroyed.

Rush, two prominent Pakistani family members, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, British adventurer Hamish Harding, and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet all perished in the implosion.

Many lawsuits are anticipated, but it's unclear how successful they will be since the process of filing them will be difficult. Plaintiffs will face the challenge of proving jurisdiction.

According to letters the company submitted to a US District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, which is in charge of handling cases involving the Titanic shipwreck, at least 46 people successfully traveled on OceanGate's submersible to the Titanic wreck site in 2021 and 2022.

However, both a former employee of the company and former customers questioned the submersible's safety.

Publish : 2023-06-25 10:55:00

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