The submersible was created with the purpose of taking people to explore the remains of the Titanic at the bottom of the sea.
This maritime vehicle is a type of submarine, but with reduced mobility and a limited capacity to remain underwater. They have a small crew, or are remotely operated. They are usually used for scientific research or seabed exploration.
In the case of this missing Titan ship in the Atlantic, site of the most famous shipwreck in history, operated by OceanGate Expeditions, used to take tourists to the site of the wreck of the Titanic.
According to OceanGate the Titan has oxygen for the five people on board to survive 96 hours.
The Titan is shaped like a narrow tube, with an entry hatch at the front. It measures 6.7 meters long and 2.8 meters wide. Its maximum speed is three knots, i.e. 5.5 km per hour.
The expedition to the challenges of the Titanic has a value of 250,000 dollars per tourist. Equipped with four thrusters, the submersible can go down to 4,000 meters, according to OceanGate, which gives a tight margin compared to the 3,800 meters where the Titanic is located.
Stefan Williams, an expert in underwater robotics at the University of Sydney, explained that the pressure at those depths is “relentless.” “For every 10 meters you go down in the sea you increase the pressure by one atmosphere,” he added.
That means that at Titanic’s depth the pressure is 380 times higher than at the Earth’s surface.
Previously, submersibles were intended for scientific exploration, but tourist demand is growing. It’s a phenomenon similar to space tourism. “There’s an appetite for these kinds of experiences,” Williams explains.
And this development comes just as discussions are beginning to take place, in scientific circles, about the usefulness of putting humans inside such craft. “You can do a lot of exploration and scientific research with remotely piloted vehicles,” he explained.
In the best-case scenario, according to the University of Sydney expert, Titan lost the ability to communicate or ran out of power.
If these hypotheses are true, its emergency system automatically launches it to the surface, allowing the submersible to be located.
The second scenario is that the submersible sank to the bottom of the sea, intact. Finding and rescuing the Titan in that case would be extremely complicated. According to this expert, there are rescue vehicles that are capable of descending to a depth of 6,000 meters, but it takes time to move that equipment to the scene, and then to the seabed.
The worst-case scenario is a fire or some kind of mishap that affected the ship’s internal pressure. That represents “a catastrophic failure at that level of depth,” he said.
Published by Emirates Herald, news and information agency.