June 23, 2023 - Missing Titanic sub crew killed after 'catastrophic implosion'

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Sana Noor Haq, Hannah Strange, Aditi Sangal and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 9:00 p.m. ET, June 23, 2023
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1:33 a.m. ET, June 23, 2023

What is a catastrophic implosion?

From CNN staff

The Titan submersible bound for the Titanic that went missing on Sunday with five people on board suffered a “catastrophic implosion,” US Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger said Thursday.

The tail cone and other debris from the missing submersible were found by a remotely operated vehicle about 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic, which rests about 13,000 feet deep in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The Coast Guard said the debris found on the sea floor was "consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber."

  • What is a catastrophic implosion? The opposite of an explosion, an implosion is when an object suddenly and violently collapses in on itself. At those depths there is a tremendous amount of pressure on the submersible and even the tiniest structural defect could be disastrous, experts said. "So at that pressure (there) are probably around four, five thousand pounds per square inch, over 350 times the pressure on Earth. Any small leak could cause an immediate implosion, which would destroy the craft," said Tom Maddox, CEO of Underwater Forensic Investigators, who took part in a Titanic expedition in 2005.
  • Some context: Pressure on the surface is measured as 1 atmosphere, which is about 15 pounds per square inch. As you dive deeper underwater, that pressure builds and builds. At the depths of the Titanic wreck, the pressure is close to 6,000 pounds per square inch.
  • Would the crew have known what was happening? With so much pressure on the submersible, the implosion would have happened in a fraction of a millisecond. A catastrophic implosion happens at 1,500 miles per hour, Aileen Marty, a former naval officer and professor at Florida International University told CNN. "It takes more than that — it takes about 0.25 more than that — for the human brain to even realize it’s happening. So … the entire thing would have collapsed before the individuals inside would even realize that there was a problem," Marty said. "They died in a way that they didn’t even realize that they were about to die. Ultimately, among the many ways in which we can pass, that’s painless."
  • Recovery chances: When asked about the likelihood of recovering crew members of the Titan, Mauger from the US Coast Guard said he doesn’t "have an answer for prospects at this time," but they will continue the search. "This is an incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the sea floor," he said Thursday.
12:02 a.m. ET, June 23, 2023

Submersible heading to Titanic wreckage suffered a "catastrophic implosion." Catch up here

From CNN staff

The five passengers on the Titan submersible that was diving 13,000 feet to view the Titanic on the ocean floor died in a "catastrophic implosion," authorities said Thursday, bookending an extraordinary five-day international search operation near the site of the world's most famous shipwreck.

The tail cone and other debris were found by a remotely operated vehicle about 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic, deep in the North Atlantic and about 900 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

“This is an incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the sea floor and the debris is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel,” US Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger, the First Coast Guard District commander, told reporters.

Here's what we know:

  • Debris: The remotely operated vehicle found "five different major pieces of debris" from the Titan submersible, according to Paul Hankins, the US Navy's director of salvage operations and ocean engineering. The debris was "consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber" and, in turn, a "catastrophic implosion," he said. As of now, there does not appear to be a connection between the banging noises picked up by sonar earlier this week and where the debris was found.
  • Timing: The US Navy detected an acoustic signature consistent with an implosion on Sunday and relayed that information to the commanders leading the search effort, a senior official told CNN. But the sound was determined to be “not definitive,” the official said. Mauger, for his part, said rescuers had sonar buoys in the water for at least the last 72 hours and had "not detected any catastrophic events." Listening devices set up during the search also did not record any sign of an implosion, Mauger added.
  • What comes next: The remotely operated vehicles will remain on the scene and continue to gather information, Mauger said. It will take time to determine a specific timeline of events in the "incredibly complex" case of the Titan's failure, Mauger said. The Coast Guard official said the agency will eventually have more information about what went wrong and its assessment of the emergency response.
  • Response: Mauger applauded the “huge international” and “interagency” search effort. He said teams had the appropriate gear and worked as quickly as possible. The Coast Guard official also thanked experts and agencies for assisting with the search for the Titan submersible.

  • Who was on board: Tour organizer OceanGate Expeditions said Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush died in the submersible. They "shared a distinct spirit of adventure," the company in a statement.
  • Reaction: Nargeolet, a French diver, was an incredible person and highly respected in his field, said his friend Tom Dettweiler, a fellow ocean explorer. The president of The Explorers Club said the group is heartbroken over the tragic loss. Two passengers, businessman Harding and Nargeolet, were members, it said. Engro Corporation Limited, of which Shahzada Dawood was Vice Chairman, said the company grieves the loss of him and his son. The governments of Pakistan and the United Kingdom also offered condolences.
12:56 a.m. ET, June 23, 2023

"Titanic" director James Cameron sees similarities with submersible tragedy and famous shipwreck

From CNN's Lisa Respers France and Alli Rosenbloom

James Cameron speaks to CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday.
James Cameron speaks to CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday. CNN

James Cameron, who directed the hit 1997 film “Titanic” and has himself made 33 dives to the wreckage, offered his thoughts Thursday after it was announced that a missing Titanic-bound submersible suffered a “catastrophic implosion,” killing all five people on board.

“I think there’s a great, almost surreal irony here, which is Titanic sank because the captain took it full steam into an ice field at night, on a moonless night with very poor visibility after he had been repeatedly warned,” Cameron told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Thursday.

Cameron added he thinks “we’re also seeing a parallel here with unheeded warnings about a sub that was not certified.”

Cameron is an experienced deep sea explorer who in 2012 dove to the Mariana Trench, considered one of the deepest spots in the Earth’s oceans at almost 7 miles below the surface, in a 24-foot submersible vehicle he designed called the Deepsea Challenger.

Speaking of his deep-sea dives to the site of the Titanic, Cameron told Cooper: “You feel the presence of the tragedy and I think that’s the lure. I think that’s why people want to go and experience it for themselves. To feel, to remember history.”

He added that while he thinks it’s important to remember that history, “here’s a case starkly, today, where the collective, we didn’t remember the lesson of Titanic — these guys at OceanGate didn’t.”

“I just think it’s heartbreaking that it was so preventable,” he said.
10:10 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

Passengers lost in the "catastrophic implosion" of the Titan submersible remembered by loved ones

From CNN's Sugam Pokharel, Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman, Mostafa Salem, Gabe Cohen and Sofia Cox

From left, Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood, Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Stockton Rush.
From left, Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood, Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Stockton Rush. Obtained by CNN

The Titan submersible bound for the Titanic that went missing on Sunday with five people on board suffered a “catastrophic implosion,” US Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger said Thursday.

Now those who knew the passengers are grappling with their tragic loss and some have sent messages of condolences as their legacies are remembered.

  • Engro Corporation Limited, where Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood was vice chairman, issued a statement on the deaths of Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood — who were among the five people on board the Titan. “With heavy hearts and with great sadness, we grieve the loss of our Vice Chairman, Shahzada Dawood, and his beloved son, Suleman Dawood. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dawood family at this tragic time. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, colleagues, friends, and all those around the world who grieve this unthinkable loss,” the company tweeted on Thursday.
  • Dubai-based Action Aviation, the company owned by passenger Hamish Harding released a statement on behalf of his family. "Today, we are united in grief with the other families who have also lost their loved ones on the Titan submersible," the statement read. "Hamish Harding was a loving husband to his wife and a dedicated father to his two sons, whom he loved deeply. To his team in Action Aviation, he was a guide, an inspiration, a support, and a Living Legend." The statement went on to praise the efforts made to search for the Titan sub.
  • The family of French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet said he will "be remembered as one of the greatest deep-sea explorers in modern history." The statement signed by Nargeolet’s children and wife said they hope people think about the explorer and his work when they think about the Titanic, "but what we will remember him most for is his big heart, his incredible sense of humor and how much he loved his family. We will miss him today and every day for the rest of our lives."
  • OceanGate co-founder Guillermo Söhnlein said the loss of the Titan crew, including CEO Stockton Rush, was "tragic" and they knew their journey carried a risk. In an interview with CNN Thursday, he said: "It's a tragic loss for the families and for the ocean exploration community in general. All five crew members were passionate explorers. And they died doing what they believed in. Those of us in the community that work at that depth, know that that's always a risk. There's pressure down so intense that if there is a failure, it is an instant, catastrophic failure. And we all know that it's a risk."
9:57 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

US Navy detected an implosion Sunday, official says

From CNN's Eric Levenson, Priscilla Alvarez, Gabe Cohen, Nouran Salahieh and Oren Liebermann

The US Navy detected an acoustic signature consistent with an implosion on Sunday in the general area where the Titanic-bound submersible was diving when it lost communication with its mother ship, a senior Navy official told CNN Thursday.

The Navy then immediately relayed that information to the on-scene commanders leading the search effort, and it was used to narrow down the area of the search, the official said.

But the sound of the implosion was determined to be “not definitive,” the official said, and the multinational efforts to find the submersible continued as a search and rescue effort.

“Any chance of saving a life is worth continuing the mission,” the official said. 

The Wall Street Journal was first to report about the acoustic signature picked up by the Navy.

That insight comes the same day the US Coast Guard announced the submersible suffered a “catastrophic implosion,” killing all five people on board.

The tail cone and other debris from the missing submersible were found by a remotely operated vehicle about 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic, which rests about 13,000 feet deep in the North Atlantic Ocean.

“This is an incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the sea floor and the debris is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel,” US Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger, the First Coast Guard District commander, told reporters in a Thursday news conference.

Five different major pieces of debris from the submersible, known as the “Titan,” were found in the area, and each end of the pressure hull was found in a different place, according to Paul Hankins, US Navy Director of Salvage Operations and Ocean Engineering.

The families were immediately notified, Mauger said.

Read more here.

10:12 p.m. ET, June 22, 2023

Wife of submersible pilot is a descendant from Titanic couple who perished

From CNN's Lisa Respers France

Wendy Rush, the wife of the pilot killed in a Titanic-bound submersible that coast guard officials say suffered catastrophic implosion, is the descendant of a couple who perished on the ship in 1912.

Rush is the great-great granddaughter of retailing magnate Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida, who were part of the group of more than 1,500 people who died during the Titanic’s maiden voyage, according to New York Times archive records.

The couple were fictionalized by Lew Palter as Isidor and Elsa Raven as Ida in the Oscar-winning 1997 film “Titanic,” directed by James Cameron.

While several of the scenes focusing on them in the movie were cut, a scene featuring the characters clutching each other on a bed as the ship went down became notably memorable.

Read more here.