June 20, 2023 Missing Titanic sub search news

By Helen Regan, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Ed Upright, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond, Tori B. Powell and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, June 21, 2023
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8:29 a.m. ET, June 20, 2023

Deep-sea mapping company ready to join search efforts, but is being held up due to transport issues

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian

Deep sea-mapping company Magellan, most famously known for its one-of-a-kind deep sea imagery of the Titanic, is fighting against the clock to try and get involved in the search and rescue efforts underway to locate the submersible that’s been missing in the Atlantic since Sunday—but a key transport issue holding them back.

Magellan Chair David Thompson told CNN that his team is familiar with the site of the wreck and received written notice from OceanGate Expeditions, the company running the expedition to the Titanic, to mobilize early Monday “by all means necessary — time is of the essence.” 

CNN has reached out to OceanGate for comment.

But it needs an aircraft — specifically, a C-17 Globemaster III military cargo jet — with the ability to transport its deep-sea diving equipment, which is located in the UK, and deliver it to Canada in order to launch its operation.

“We know the wreck site, we know the location, and the equipment we are trying to get picked up is the equipment we used to do that scanning of the Titanic,” Thompson said. 

Thompson said the US Air Force or UK Royal Air Force have not gotten back to Magellan letting them know if or when a plane can be procured to use to transport the equipment they need to Canada to embark on rescue efforts

Most of the equipment needed for the deep-sea dive is in Jersey, located in the Channel Islands off the coast of France, with some other equipment in Aberdeen, Thompson said. 

“Through our connections locally in the islands here, we have good connections with the government, and we have good connections with the ports of Jersey, which is the airport and harbors: They are ready and willing to open the airport at a moment's notice relatively speaking, and that includes right now,” the Magellan chairman said.  

There’s an element of serendipity at play in all this, as Thompson said that the equipment needed for this deep-sea expedition is normally not docked in the Channel Islands, where the company is based.

“It's normally on a vessel floating around the world, quite frankly. But by pure coincidence, we had it off whilst we were changing vessels and it just happened to be in Jersey at this point as opposed to on a boat in the middle of the sea,” he explained.

The quickest the Magellan team say they and their equipment could be at the site of the search and rescue operation underway in the Atlantic would be somewhere between 24 and 30 hours.  

The missing 21-foot vessel has life support for up to 96 hours, according to the OceanGate website. US Coast Guard officials estimated Monday afternoon that they anticipate that the vessel has somewhere between 70 to 96 hours of emergency oxygen available for the passengers onboard. 

CNN has reached out to the UK Royal Air Force as well as the US Air Force for comment. 

10:28 a.m. ET, June 20, 2023

Colleague of submariner on missing vessel says the community is in shock

From CNN's Laura Ly

Paul-Henri Nargeolet poses for a photo at an exhibition dedicated to the Titanic, in Paris in 2013.
Paul-Henri Nargeolet poses for a photo at an exhibition dedicated to the Titanic, in Paris in 2013. Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

A colleague of the French submariner onboard the missing Titanic dive vessel told CNN Tuesday that their community is “in shock.”

"Something we always think about as explorers and scientists … we've always known something like this could happen and now it's happened. But we're still pretty much in shock," said David Gallo, senior adviser for strategic initiatives at RMS Titanic Inc. "I hope it has a good ending."

Gallo called Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who is one of five people on board the missing vessel his "closest colleague" and someone who is "the best" at deep-sea searching.

As the search for the missing vessel continues, Gallo said "time is against us at this point."

The depth of water where the search is being conducted is "a whole different world," Gallo said, but added that "everything that can be done, is being done." 

“You begin on the surface in a light blue, pretty color blue that we're familiar with. It takes two and a half hours to get to the bottom roughly, and you start to drift down slowly through that water column. You leave the blue behind. It gets medium blue, deep blue, dark blue, and then black for about two hours. And this is a place that’s been eternally cold and pressure is building,” Gallo said.

7:53 a.m. ET, June 20, 2023

Search area for submersible should see fair weather for the next few days

From CNN meteorologists Derek Van Dam and Monica Garrett

Weather in the search area for the submersible in the North Atlantic is generally good for the next several days. A weak cold front moved through the area on Monday, leading to some rain showers. As this front continues to move away from the area, chances of any showers will diminish.

The search area can expect partly cloudy skies, southwest winds of 20 to 30 knots (23-34 mph) and wave heights up to 9 feet on Tuesday. These conditions are average for the area this time of year. Both air and sea surface temperatures are in the 50s.

High pressure will build in the area, leading to clear skies and relatively calm conditions through the rest of the week.

Sunrise for the search area is just before 4 a.m. ET with sunset around 7 p.m. ET.

7:47 a.m. ET, June 20, 2023

US Coast Guard searched area "about the size of Connecticut" for missing sub overnight, commander says

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

The US Coast Guard searched an area “about the size of Connecticut” overnight for the submersible gone missing with five people inside, US Coast Guard First District Commander Rear Admiral John Mauger said.

As the search continues Tuesday morning, the unified command team is expanding its capabilities to be able to search under the water as well, Mauger told ABC Tuesday. "We have a commercial vessel that's on scene now, that has remote operated vehicles, that will give us the ability to search under the water as well."

The unified command is also using a P-3 aircraft from the Canadian Armed Forces, which has been flying during the last 24 hours, dropping sonar buoys to listen for any sounds from the submersible.

"We also have vessels on scene now that [have] the capability to listen with their SONAR, and so if they are making sound, that's certainly one of the ways that we're going to use to locate,” Mauger added.

10:29 a.m. ET, June 20, 2023

Family confirms French submariner among the passengers

From CNN’s Joseph Ataman in Paris

Paul-Henri Nargeolet is pictured next to a miniature version of the sunken Titanic at an exhibition in Paris in 2013.
Paul-Henri Nargeolet is pictured next to a miniature version of the sunken Titanic at an exhibition in Paris in 2013. Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

French submariner and ex-Navy officer, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, is among the five people missing aboard a submersible exploring the Titanic wreck, his family confirmed to CNN affiliate BFMTV Tuesday. 

It was previously thought that Nargeolet was among the passengers after fellow "mission specialist" British businessman and adventurer Hamish Harding referenced the Frenchman in a post prior to the expedition launch.

The French Foreign Office has said the ministry is not in a position to confirm his disappearance, a spokesperson said.

Harding had posted on social media Saturday saying that Nargeolet was scheduled to be on Sunday’s dive with him.

Nargeolet led several expeditions to the Titanic and supervised the recovery of many artifacts from the wreck, according to the E/M Group, where Nargeolet was director of underwater research.

7:31 a.m. ET, June 20, 2023

"Everything that can be done is being done," expert says

From CNN's Lauren Said-Moorhouse

As the search for the missing submersible continues, David Gallo, senior adviser for Strategic Initiatives at RMS Titanic Inc., told CNN This Morning about what it’s like to journey down to the Titanic wreck. 

“It's a whole different world,” he explained, adding that it “takes two and a half hours to get to the bottom roughly.”

Gallo said: “This is a place where it has been eternally cold... When you land, it's a very unfamiliar world where all sorts of different kinds of creatures live and different kinds of landscapes.”

When asked about the round-the-clock efforts to locate the Titan vessel, Gallo was frank in his assessment.

“Certainly, time is against us at this point. The only thing that we can say is that everything that can be done is being done. That includes the coast guard at the surface, listening a bit beneath the surface. And then assembling right now are some of the best robotic people… to respond right away if they do find that submarine.”

12:58 p.m. ET, June 20, 2023

What it’s like inside the missing vessel

From CNN's Lauren Said-Moorhouse

The interior of OceanGate's Titan is seen in 2018.
The interior of OceanGate's Titan is seen in 2018. KOMO

Officials are racing against the clock to locate the civilian submersible that had five people aboard when it went missing Sunday.

CNN’s Gabe Cohen has previously reported on the operator OceanGate Expeditions and had toured the Titan vessel out of the water during his time at CNN affiliate KOMO in 2018.

Speaking to CNN This Morning, Cohen said he recalled being “blown away by how simple” the onboard tech seemed.

“It's this tiny vessel, quite cramped and small. You have to sit inside of it, shoes off... It is operated... by a gaming controller, what essentially looks like a PlayStation controller,” he explained.

“It could dive 13,000 feet down into the ocean and handle 150 million pounds of pressure that it would feel on the ocean floor.

"It was incredible to see, at that time, right as they were packing up the vessel and getting ready for one of these expeditions. So, it is obviously very difficult and sad to see what’s happened now," Cohen added.

The company was founded in 2009 by its current CEO Stockton Rush. Cohen explained that the company has conducted many science-driven expeditions to various shipwrecks, not just the Titanic, over the years.

While discussing the use of consumer-friendly products used onboard, like the game controller, Cohen said that he'd asked OceanGate about it. "They also stressed that the carbon fiber structure of Titan could reliably pull off a mission like this. They did not spare any expense or cut any corners to pull that off - that is what they repeatedly said to me."

He continued, "I interviewed Stockton Rush several times. Not just him but his staff and crew. They talked about safety over and over and how confident they were in the technology of this vessel, and the other vessels they had designed over time, but we have since learned that Titan has had some issues before with communication."

Cohen referred to a CBS report that last year the vessel was lost for more than two hours unable to get messages from the surface, which it relies on to figure out where to go there’s no GPS onboard. 

7:34 a.m. ET, June 20, 2023

Who’s involved in the search for the sub?

From CNN’s Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Brian Todd and Oren Liebermann

An all-out search is underway to find the submersible missing off the coast of Newfoundland. 

The Canadian Coast Guard is helping the United States with the search for the vessel with the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Boston coordinating the response.

Contact with the vessel was lost Sunday.

We have to make sure that we're looking on both the surface -- using aerial and surface vessels -- but then expanding into underwater search as well,” Rear Admiral John Mauger, commander of the First Coast Guard District said in a news conference Monday.

“Right now, our capability is limited to sonar buoys and listening for sound. But, you know, we are working very hard to increase the capability.”

Mauger said on Monday at 4:30 p.m. ET that the missing sub was designed with a "96-hour sustainment capability if there was an emergency on board," and "we anticipate there’s somewhere between 70 and the full 96 hours available at this point."

Here’s what we know about the urgent search and rescue operation underway:

  • The US Coast Guard has told CNN it has a ship on the scene as well as aircraft, including C-130 Hercules planes. Canadian ships and planes have also joined the search.
  • C-130s are four-engine aircraft that can operate long-range patrols and long endurance missions. Basically, they can stay airborne for hours at a time and search the surface of the water in case there is any sort of debris or spot the submersible if it is floating on top of the water without the ability to communicate.
  • Canada has also launched a P-8 Poseidon aircraft. This is effectively a sub hunter, designed to search underwater for the mass of an enemy submarine. In this case, the difficulty may be in locating the much smaller submersible. Part of the way it searches is by dropping sonar buoys into the water to try and pick up a sound or acoustic signature that may be coming from the submersible. If a few of these are in the water and they all hear a target, that data could be used to try and triangulate the source.
  • Also involved is the Polar Prince, the Canadian research vessel that transported the missing submersible to the site of the Titanic wreckage.

The Titanic lies at close to 12,500 feet, more than two miles below the surface, and a depth that experts have said that could complicate any rescue mission.

"It’s a totally different planet. To go from the world of sun that we’re familiar with down through what we call the twilight zone when that lovely color of blue turns in to deep blue, dark blue and then for two hours we’re in pitch black," deep sea explorer David Gallo explained to CNN. "The pressure is slowly building and the heat from the sun fades away and the cold of the deep ocean starts to infiltrate the sub.”

CNN's Rob Frehse and Celina Tebor contributed to this post.

5:46 a.m. ET, June 20, 2023

The Titanic's tragic story has intrigued generations of explorers, historians and viewers

From CNN's Marnie Hunter

When RMS Titanic set sail on April 10, 1912, she was the largest passenger ship in service and considered to be “unsinkable.”

But just days later, Titanic’s celebrated maiden voyage turned into a disaster when she suffered a catastrophic collision with an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank less than three hours later.

More than 1,500 people died in the accident.

More than a century after the ship went down, researchers and historians are still captivated by its story. Sea investigators and filmmakers are still trying to map the wreck and glean more about what happened that fateful day.

Read more here: