Former Toronto passenger says Titanic submersible at 'the mercy of the gods'

Former Toronto passenger says Titanic submersible at 'the mercy of the gods'
Former Toronto passenger says Titanic submersible at 'the mercy of the gods'
A man wearing a black sweater sits in a chair. 20 June 2023 08:40 AM: Colin Taylor rode inside the OceanGate Expedition's Titan submersible last year with his son. The vessel lost contact with the surface over 600 kilometres off the coast of Newfoundland diving toward the Titanic. (CBC)

Searchers scoured the North Atlantic overnight Monday into Tuesday morning, without any definitive answers on the whereabouts of a missing submersible diving to see the wreck of the Titanic.

As of the latest update, before midnight in Newfoundland, the United States Coast Guard said the rescue effort was ongoing with an Air National Guard plane and a local vessel doing surface searches.

That local vessel, the Polar Prince, towed the Titan submersible out to sea last week, where it would take crews of five more than 3,800 metres below the surface to view the Titanic. Communications were severed on Sunday, 1½ hours into the dive and it has not been heard from since.

"I will have nightmares about it, I'm sure," said Colin Taylor, a former passenger onboard OceanGate Expedition's Titan submersible last summer. "It's not for the faint hearted to begin with, and it's certainly not without risk."

Taylor, originally from Toronto, went in the Titan last year with his son. The two made a successful trip to the Titanic, but he said it crossed his mind on multiple occasions that things could have gone differently.

"It's shocking, and obviously very, very concerning," he said of this week's incident.

The Titan is believed to be somewhere in the vicinity of the Titanic wreckage, about 370 nautical miles southeast of Newfoundland. OceanGate says the Titan has life support capacity for five people on board for 96 hours, or four days.

Rear Admiral John Mauger, of the U.S. Coast Guard, said it's unclear when the clock would have started ticking on the life support capacity, but he estimated they were somewhere between 70 and 96 hours in at the time he spoke to media.

Communication limited during dives, says former passenger

A photo of the wreckage of the Titanic through a porthole.
Colin Taylor of Toronto travelled in the Titan submersible to the Titanic last year, and captured this image. (Colin Taylor/Instagram)

Taylor shared details of what the trip looks like on Monday, saying the submersible dives for about 2 ½ hours before spending between four to five hours at the Titanic.

The depth level of the Titanic also means there is very little — if any — communication with the surface.

"The communications are almost nil and they don't really know where you are on the bottom. It's very, very difficult to triangulate where the sub is from the ship on the surface. And so you really don't know where you are," he said.

"You're kind of at, you know, the mercy of the gods."

LISTEN | Colin Taylor speaks with CBC Radio's As It Happens:

As It Happens6:30Former tourist on Titanic dive calls trip 'utterly remarkable' — but risky

A small submersible should have resurfaced in St. John's yesterday evening after an expedition to view the Titanic shipwreck. Retired St. John's businessman Colin Taylor, who previously took the trip, tells As It Happens host Nil Köksal it's clear the deep dive comes with a degree of risk.

The vessel also has to fight against undersea currents and a wide-spanning debris field once it reaches its destination, Taylor said.

A large motor sits at the bottom of the ocean.
One of the telemotors of the Titanic, seen from inside the Titan submersible. (Colin Taylor/Instagram)

"I don't know that that's happened at all, but that would be one of the risks here," he said.

"And if you are caught on it, the next thing becomes, well, how could you be rescued? And there's very, very few vehicles on the face of the earth that are capable of going down to that depth."

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