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.