The leader of the team that found the wreckage of the Titan submersible became emotional as he described how a rescue effort turned into a recovery operation.
Pelagic Research Services laid out a timeline of its response to the Titan emergency at a press conference this evening.
“We were always aware of the crew of the Titan,” Ed Cassano, the company’s CEO, told the media as he described his efforts to find the submersible.
“Simply put, we were focused on rescue,” he added.
However, when the Pelagic Odysseus 6K Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) arrived at the Titanic’s wreckage site 90 minutes after its launch, hopes of a rescue were short-lived, Cassano explained.
“Shortly after reaching the seabed, we discovered the remains of the submersible Titan … at 12 o’clock, a rescue turned into a recovery,” he said.
Holding back tears as he spoke to reporters, Cassano apologized and said his team members were processing “a lot of emotions.”
He asked everyone to recognize the “seriousness of the act” and to “respect the range of emotions” felt by those involved.
Cassano added that an additional ROV, which was launched by another ship called Deep Energy, “was not able” to go deeper than 2,700 m and suffered a mechanical problem. It says the ship “lost a vehicle trying to reach the seabed.”
He said: “Our rescue plan was, immediately after we found Titan, to grab her as soon as possible and start the recovery.”
Describing the scale of the challenge, he said: “It was wild…”
The five men aboard the OceanGate submersible titan they died when the ship is believed to have suffered a catastrophic implosion, during its underwater journey to the wreck of the Titanic.
The 21-foot ship is believed to have imploded on June 18 as it went down, with wreckage located about 12,500 feet underwater and approximately 1,600 feet from the Titanic on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.
The US Coast Guard made the announcement on Thursday presumed human remains it had been recovered after the wreckage of the vessel was washed ashore.
The nature and extent of possible remains recovered from the site were not specified.
British father and 19-year-old son Shahzada and Suleman Dawood they died on board the ship, along with British billionaire Hamish Harding.
Two other people on board, OceanGate Expeditions chief executive Stockton Rush and French co-pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet, also died.
Titan’s implosion has raised questions about the safety of private underwater exploration operations.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police previously said it is investigating the five deaths.
Meanwhile, safety investigators from Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) made inquiries about Titan’s main support vessel, the Polar Prince, after it docked in the port of St John on Saturday.
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An extensive search and rescue operation, involving ships in the water, aircraft and remotely operated vehicles (ROVS) underwater, was launched after Titan lost communication with the Polar Prince, an hour and 45 minutes after the two-hour descent to the wreck on June 18.
The ship was missing eight hours after the loss of communication.
The rescue mission ended five days later when pieces of debris were found about 487 m from the wreckage of the Titanic.