Rescue teams are racing against time to find a tourist submarine that was supposed to visit the wreck of the Titanic – but it has been missing since Sunday (18) with five people on board.
Two US media outlets reported on a leaked internal memo sent to the US Department of Homeland Security saying that a Canadian aircraft detected underwater “clicking sounds” at 30-minute intervals coming from the search area.
The p8 [aeronave canadense] I heard banging sounds in the area every 30 minutes. “Four hours later, additional sonar was deployed and knocks could still be heard,” Rolling Stone said.
CNN also reported an internal update sent out Tuesday night indicating that more votes were being captured.
“Additional audio feedback has been heard and will help guide surface assets and also indicate continued hope for survivors,” said the second note, according to the CNN report.
An hour after media reports, the US Coast Guard confirmed that a Canadian search aircraft had picked up “underwater noises.”
How are rescue teams working to find a ship that has been missing for two days? What equipment is used for this? How far is the point from which the submarine disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean?
We answer these questions with the help of visual aids.
Where are the searches conducted?
The crew of the submarine Titan lost contact with its surface vessel, Polar Prince, 1 hour and 45 minutes after beginning the descent toward the wreckage of the Titanic, on Sunday (18).
The wreckage of the Titanic is located 700 kilometers south of the Canadian city of Saint John, although the rescue mission is being carried out from Boston, in the United States.
U.S. and Canadian agencies, militaries, and companies operating in deep waters are assisting in the rescue operation, using military aircraft, a submarine, and buoys.
The Polar Prince is being supported in the region by the cable-laying ship Deep Energy, while the Atlantic Merlin supply ship is on the way.
US Coast Guard Capt. Jamie Frederick said US and Canadian teams were “working around the clock” during the “complex search effort.”
One big problem, says Professor Alistair Greig, an expert on submarines at University College London, is that rescuers don’t know whether they’re looking at the sea surface or the sea floor – it’s unlikely a submarine is in the way, he says, adding that every point of These points (the surface or the sea floor) bring with them their own challenges.
According to the US Coast Guard (USCG, for its acronym in English), the Polar Prince conducted surface inspections on Monday night (19).
C-130 Hercules aircraft of the United States and Canada also took part in the surface search, trying to detect the submarine from the air.
The USCG claimed that 7,600 square miles were searched.
Frank Owen, former director of the Undersea Rescue Project in Australia, told the BBC that the missing ship could contact rescue workers if it could surface.
“There are radio transmitters and GPS signals,” he says. “There will be strobe lights and radar reflectors to help search teams find them.”
If, for some reason, the subsidiary device cannot send these signals, the situation becomes more complicated.
“[O submarino] It’s about the size of a large land vehicle and it’s white, so try to see it from the air…” says Owen, showing a little enthusiasm for the option.
Unstable weather and poor visibility are already challenges for teams on site.
Searches in the depths of the ocean
Rescue teams must also search for the 6.7-meter-long sub at depths that can reach nearly 4 kilometres.
This has to be done in part because radio and GPS signals cannot travel through water.
The US Coast Guard confirmed on Tuesday that it would extend the search into deeper waters. Sonobuoys are also placed on site.
These detect and recognize objects moving in the water – and are often used to hunt down enemy submarines.
They pick up the sounds made by the propellers and machinery and the crew itself eventually hits the submarine’s hull (passive detection). On the other hand, active detection consists of the sonoboy itself making noise and checking echoes.
Owen warns that it will be very difficult to find the submarine underwater due to its size and the fact that it could be among the Titanic’s wreckage.
“It’s like looking for a mine in a minefield,” he told the BBC, noting the difficulty in distinguishing between a submarine and the wreckage of a ship that sank in the last century.
What would the rescue operation be like if the submarine was at the bottom of the sea?
If crews are unable to locate or surface a submarine, they will need to get more expert advice from the US Navy and the private sector, according to US Coast Guard Admiral John Mauger.
According to operator OceanGate, Titan is one of only five manned submarines in the world capable of reaching the Titanic, which is 3,800 meters deep.
If Titan is at the bottom of the sea and unable to return on its own, the options are very limited, according to Gregg.
“While a submarine may still be intact if it is more than 200 meters deep, there are very few ships that can go that deep. Divers certainly cannot. The depth of the Titanic.”
Any attempt to clean up the ocean floor in this area would likely be carried out by a remotely operated unmanned vehicle (ROV).
The Deep Energy vessel, which arrived at the site on Tuesday, has operated at least one ROV, but it is unclear if it can reach the required depths. Other ROV-equipped ships are on the way.
The US Navy has an ROV that can operate at that depth and used it to recover a crashed fighter jet from a depth of 3,780 meters in the South China Sea last year.
Ocean salvage expert David Mearns says that if the ROV can locate Titan, it can recover it.
“A top notch ROV with dual controls that can really grab [o Titan] Or attach a winch and slowly pull it up to the surface,” Mearns adds.
How is the submarine and what are its emergency procedures?
Last year, CBS journalist David Pogue joined the OceanGate expedition to the Titanic and was told the submarine had seven safety systems to help it return to the surface. are they:
- Tripods: Three tubes of lead that can be fired through hydraulic mechanisms to increase the submarine’s flotation.
- Cylinder Weights: If the hydraulics fail, those inside can tilt the sub by moving to a point on it and releasing roll weights.
- Heavy Bags: Motors can be used to release bags filled with metal shot placed at the bottom of the submarine.
- Fuse couplings: couplings that disintegrate after 16 hours at sea with the function of releasing shot bags in the event of failure of the electrical and hydraulic systems.
- Propellers: Their purpose is to push the vessel to the surface.
- The submarine “legs”: The pilot can take out the legs of the submarine to release weight.
- Airbags: the crew can also be inflated Airbags to gain buoyancy
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