Missing Titanic tourist submersible live updates: Race against clock to rescue those on board

(NEW YORK) — A submersible carrying five people has gone missing while on a tour of the underwater wreckage of the Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

The deep-sea vessel, operated by OceanGate Expeditions, lost contact about an hour and 45 minutes after submerging on Sunday morning with a 96-hour oxygen supply. The United States Coast Guard immediately launched a search and rescue operation for the 21-foot craft, named Titan, in coordination with the Canadian Coast Guard and the Canadian Armed Forces.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jun 20, 6:18 AM EDT
Missing sub is believed to be deeper than NATO rescue capability

A tourist submersible that disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday is believed to be at depths that greatly exceed the capabilities of the NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS), according to a spokesperson for the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense.

“As the host nation for NATO’s multinational submarine rescue capability, we continue to monitor the incident in the North Atlantic and will guide and assist in any response activity as appropriate,” the spokesperson told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday.

The U.K. has not been approached to offer assistance in the ongoing search for the deep-sea vessel off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, according to the spokesperson.

Initial reports indicate that the depths of water involved greatly exceed that which the NSRS team can safely operate — 610 meters for the NSRS submersible and 1,000 meters for the NSRS remotely operated vehicle, according to the spokesperson.

The NSRS is based at the home of the U.K. Royal Navy Submarine Service in HM Naval Base Clyde, the U.K. Royal Navy’s headquarters in Scotland. Introduced in 2006, the tri-national capability team can respond to a stricken submarine in rescuable water which is capable of mating with the NSRS submarine rescue vehicle, according to the spokesperson.

Jun 20, 5:03 AM EDT
Former Navy sub captain on rescue options

Rescuers racing against the clock to save the five people trapped in a tourist submersible nearly two miles deep in the Atlantic Ocean are facing major obstacles that could make saving the people onboard extremely difficult, according to a former U.S. Navy submarine commander.

Retired Capt. David Marquet told ABC News on Monday that this type of rescue operation is complicated because there aren’t nearby U.S. or Canadian underwater vessels that can go as deep as the Titanic wreckage, which sits 13,400 feet below the ocean’s surface. Also, the ocean is pitch black at that depth.

“The odds are against them,” Marquet said. “There’s a ship in Boston that has this ability to either lower cable and connect to it or have a claw. It’s still a thousand miles away.”

Even if a vessel was able to locate the submersible and lower a cable, it’s extremely difficult to safely navigate the waters and attach it, according to Marquet.

“You’ve got to get it exactly right,” he told ABC News. “It’s sort of like … getting one of those toys out of those arcade machines. In general, you miss.”

Rescuers do have one advantage, Marquet said, as weather conditions off the coast of Newfoundland are not rough and will not disturb any boat or vessel there.

Marquet added that if the five people aboard are still alive, they would be asked to sleep to conserve their oxygen.

“We would put the vast majority of the crew to sleep because that’s when you’re using the least amount of oxygen and you’re expelling the least amount of carbon dioxide,” he said.

Jun 20, 4:27 AM EDT
What to know about the missing sub

A submersible on a tour of the Titanic wreckage was reported overdue by its operator OceanGate Expeditions on Sunday, prompting the United States Coast Guard to launch a search and rescue effort for the 22-foot, 23,000-pound vessel.

Designed with life support to sustain five crew members for 96 hours, the submersible would need to be rescued in three days to save its five passengers, according to the Coast Guard.

Stockton Rush founded Washington-based OceanGate in 2009 to make deep-sea exploration more accessible to scientists and tourists. Fourteen years, more than 200 dives and three submersible designs later, the company now finds itself in a desperate search to recover the submersible carrying five people aboard that’s gone missing off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

OceanGate confirmed Monday it had lost contact with a submersible, saying in a statement: “We are exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely. Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families. We are working toward the safe return of the crewmembers.”

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