Home Latest blog Debris and Human Remains Recovered from Imploded Titanic Sub Return to Port
The Horizon Arctic vessel is captured in a scene at St. John's harbor, Newfoundland, Canada on June 28, 2023, as salvaged components of OceanGate Expeditions' Titan submersible are being brought back. [Image: David Hiscock/Reuters]

Debris and Human Remains Recovered from Imploded Titanic Sub Return to Port

by Peter Barnes

Twisted wreckage has been brought ashore as part of an ongoing investigation into the tragic incident involving the Titanic submersible.

Authorities have hauled debris and potential human remains back to shore for examination as they delve into the deep-sea disaster that led to the implosion of the submersible during its visit to the Titanic.

The United States Coast Guard announced on Wednesday that recovery teams have retrieved what appear to be remains from the five passengers who lost their lives on board the Titan submersible.

Pieces of the destroyed Titan submersible are covered by a tarp as they are unloaded to St John’s, Newfoundland, on Wednesday [David Hiscock/Reuters]
A tarp conceals the fragments of the dismantled Titan submersible as they are offloaded in St. John’s, Newfoundland [Image: David Hiscock/Reuters]

In a press release, the Coast Guard stated, “United States medical professionals will conduct a formal analysis of presumed human remains that have been carefully recovered within the wreckage at the incident site.”

Earlier in the day, the wreckage of the Titan was transported back to St. John’s, Newfoundland, a Canadian port city located approximately 600km (375 miles) northwest of the Titanic’s resting place on the ocean floor.

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Photographs depicted the submersible’s nose cone being lowered by a crane onto the docks, along with tangled wires and white panels from the 6.7-meter (22-foot) vessel.

“Our team has successfully completed offshore operations,” said Pelagic Research Services, a marine research company, in a statement. “They have been working tirelessly for ten days, overcoming physical and mental challenges during this operation and are eager to complete the mission and reunite with their loved ones.”

On June 18, the Titan lost contact with the surface, about two hours into its descent toward the world’s most famous shipwreck. An international search-and-rescue effort mobilized approximately 10 ships to the remote site, with some taking days to reach the location.

Pelagic provided the Odysseus 6K, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), which meticulously combed the ocean floor at the site situated about 3.8km (2.4 miles) beneath the surface.

The Titan carried five passengers: billionaire Hamish Harding, Titanic researcher Paul-Henri Nargeolet, businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, the company that owned the submersible.

After an extensive four-day international search, the US Coast Guard announced that the Titan likely experienced a “catastrophic implosion” on the day it disappeared.

All five passengers are presumed to be deceased. Coast Guard Rear-Admiral John Mauger informed reporters that the submersible’s debris was found near the sunken Titanic, approximately 487m (1,600 feet) from the shipwreck’s bow.

“Pelagic’s Odysseus was the subsea asset that initially discovered the debris field mentioned by the US Coast Guard,” stated Pelagic in a release over the weekend. Subsequent dives have provided further insights into the final moments of the Titan.

“Odysseus’ heavy lift capabilities have been and continue to be utilized in this recovery mission,” added Pelagic on Sunday. Jeff Mahoney, a spokesperson for the company, also emphasized the significant difficulty and risks involved in recovery operations “at this depth.”

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board collaborated with teams from the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, along with private companies like Pelagic, to retrieve the submersible’s remains.

Another company, Horizon Maritime, supplied the boat called the Horizon Arctic, which towed the Odysseus ROV to the waters above the wreckage and brought the pieces back to St. John’s.

The Canadian board intends to conduct a three-stage safety investigation into the Titan and its Canadian-flagged cargo vessel, the Polar Prince. This investigation involves collecting information during a field phase, followed by an examination and analysis phase, culminating in a final report.

Related: The most valuable artifacts left after the Titanic sinking

The US Coast Guard will also convene a “marine board of investigation” (MBI). In a release on Sunday, they explained that an MBI is the highest level of investigation within the Coast Guard.

Safety concerns have arisen following the Titan disaster, as former passengers have come forward to share their experiences with communication issues, thruster problems, and other related concerns.

Experts have also raised questions about the use of newer, experimental materials like carbon fiber in constructing the submersible, as opposed to more extensively tested materials such as carbon steel.

According to legal documents initially reported by The New Republic magazine, David Lochridge, a former engineer with OceanGate, expressed reservations about the submersible’s design and the limited high-pressure testing it underwent.

OceanGate filed a lawsuit against Lochridge for breach of contract regarding his comments about the Titan, while Lochridge countersued, alleging that the company attempted to suppress him. The matter was resolved through a settlement in 2018.

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