Missing Titanic Submersibles: How do they communicate, and what may have gone wrong with the missing Titanic sub?

Missing Submersible - Titanic sub
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A commercial submersible that vanished on a dive to the Titanic shipwreck is the target of a massive search and rescue operation.

Five personnel were on board when communication with the submersible was lost, according to the US Coast Guard, around one hour and forty-five minutes into the dive. Around 9.13 p.m. local time on Sunday (12.13 p.m. AEST on Monday), the vessel was reported to be late.

The US corporation OceanGate was leading the eight-day expedition, and each visitor paid US$250,000 to see the wreck site. Rear Admiral John Mauger of the US Coast Guard stated that as of Monday afternoon (Tuesday morning in Australia), the watercraft’s oxygen supply was probably between 70 and the entire 96 hours available to the occupants.

The wreck of the Titanic is located 700 kilometers south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, at a depth of about 3,800 meters in the Atlantic. It will be difficult to find an underwater vehicle the size of a small bus in this vast and isolated stretch of ocean. This is the competition facing search and rescue teams.

Related News: OceanGate: Titan submersible’s owner halts research & exploration

The Titan submarine owned by OceanGate disappears – Missing Titan Sub

Man-powered boats with a far smaller operating range than submarines are called submersibles. They are frequently employed in research and exploration projects, including as shipwreck investigations and underwater habitat documentation. In contrast to submarines, they often have an outside viewport that lets passengers peer outside as well as outside cameras that give a more comprehensive picture of the submersible.

The OceanGate Titan submarine, which can descend below 4,000 meters, is the missing submersible in issue. The Titan has a length of around 22 feet (6.7 meters) and a speed of roughly 3 knots, or 5.5 kilometers per hour. Despite the fact that submersibles are frequently tethered to surface ships, images and video indicate the Titan was most likely functioning apart from the surface ship.

The Titan is utilized “for site survey and inspection, research and data collection, film and media production, and deep-sea testing of hardware and software,” according to the OceanGate website.

A “real-time hull health monitoring (RTM) system” is another feature of it. Strain gauges to check the condition of the Titan’s carbon fiber hull would probably be part of this. One type of sensor that can measure applied force and minute deformations in material brought on by variations in weight, pressure, and tension is a strain gauge.

The Titan’s carbon fiber hull joins two composite titanium domes, which are resistant to the pressures found in deep sea environments. Expect pressures that are roughly 380 times higher than the atmospheric pressure we are accustomed to on Earth’s surface, at 3,800 meters below sea level (the depth of the Titanic).

Interaction and rescue operations

Through the use of a transponder—a device that receives sonar signals—and a transceiver—a device that can broadcast and receive communications—on the surface vessel, the Titan would have been connected to its surface vessel through an acoustic link.

Short text messages may be transmitted back and forth to the surface vessel via this link, which also enables underwater acoustic locating. The data that can be transferred is restricted to status updates and minimal telemetry.

The Titan is a boat that runs on batteries. Given that it is no longer in communication with its surface vessel, a power outage may have occurred. To maintain emergency and life support equipment, there should ideally be an emergency backup power source (such as an independent battery); however, it’s unclear if the missing vessel had any power backup available.

Sonar buoys, a submarine, and at least two planes were reportedly being deployed in the hunt for the vessel. Sonar buoys are designed to detect underwater sounds, such as emergency distress beacons that may have triggered.

Dealing with the weather will be one of the main problems of the rescue attempt, since it will further reduce the already limited search window.

What may have occurred?

In the best case situation, the Titan could have lost power, but it will still be able to surface because to a built-in safety mechanism. It may, for example, have extra weights attached to it that can be dropped to immediately boost its buoyancy and raise it back to the surface.

Alternatively, it’s possible that the ship lost power and plummeted to the ocean floor. This would result in more issues.

The worst possible situation is that its pressure housing has catastrophically failed. The Titan’s composite hull is designed to withstand extreme pressures found in deep waters, but any flaw in its construction could cause it to lose structural integrity, increasing the possibility of an implosion.

An electrical short circuit might have caused a fire on board, which is an additional option. This can jeopardize the electrical systems of the car, which are crucial for vessel control and navigation. In enclosed underwater situations, fires may be deadly and can result in the crew and passengers being incapacitated.

There is not much time left. It will be up to the search and rescue teams to locate the vessel before its meager water and oxygen supplies run out.

The relative benefits of manned submersibles are a topic of continuous discussion in scientific circles. Every deployment carries a risk to safety, so the crew’s and passengers’ safety come first.

Nowadays, unmanned and robotic vehicles are used for the majority of offshore industrial activities and underwater research. The job being done could be compromised if one of these vehicles were to fail, but at least no lives would be at danger. The hazards of employing these devices to enable deep-sea tourism will probably be hotly debated in light of recent incidents.