- author, Tiffany Turnbull
- roll, BBC News
News of the picking up of noises during the search for the missing submarine gave a glimmer of hope that the five men aboard were alive.
The sounds were recorded by sonar buoys amid the rescue operation racing against time to find Titan in the mid-Atlantic.
The Canadian P-3 also heard some noises on Wednesday (21), Captain Frederick, who was involved in the search, said at about 2 pm (Brasilia time).
Carl Hartsfield of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution told reporters that it is very difficult to distinguish the noise.
His team has “various sensors in the area, that feed data back to the best people in the world and pass it on to the team so they can make decisions.”
“They have to get rid of potential synthetic sources other than Titan,” he adds.
The submarine, dubbed a submarine by experts, was reported missing three days ago during a voyage to the wreck of the Titanic.
The US Coast Guard said underwater operations have been redeployed to investigate the noise, but so far have found nothing.
And with oxygen supplies expected to run out around 6 a.m. EST on Thursday, the next few hours are critical.
US authorities say the noise was heard every half hour for four hours on Tuesday, according to reports from various media outlets.
Deepwater experts who spoke to the BBC say it’s hard to say what that noise is without seeing the data, and Admiral John Mauger – who’s leading the research – confirmed its source is unknown.
But the noise is likely to be short, high-pitched, and relatively high-frequency coming from inside the submarine.
Frank Owen of the Australian Submarine Institute says he is confident, based on available information, that the sounds are coming from inside the ship.
“If there is a 30-minute gap, it is very unlikely that there will be anything other than humans,” he told the BBC.
Among the men on board were British businessman Hamish Harding, 58, British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his son Suleiman, 19, and Stockton Rush, 61, chief executive of OceanGate, which operates cruises at a cost of $250,000. US dollars (about 1.2 million Brazilian reals) per person.
But Owen says the noises are “warnings” coming from the fifth man inside – Paul-Henri Nargolet, 77, a former diver in the French Navy and famous explorer.
“He knew the protocol for trying to alert the search forces… every hour and every half hour, he knocked frantically for three minutes,” Owen said.
The decision to move the research suggests that the authorities are thinking along the same lines.
But in previous sea searches – such as those for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in 2014 and the Russian submarine Kursk in 2000 – underwater noises were also heard and yielded no results.
Admiral Mauger said there were many metal objects at the Titanic site that could cause noise.
Another glimmer of hope, says Owen, is that these sounds were picked up by the buoys.
Titanic lies 3,800 meters below the surface of the ocean, where the buoys are located.
All forms of electromagnetic radiation, including radio and radar, are virtually useless underwater, but sound can travel quickly over great distances.
It’s possible that noise from layers of the deep ocean can make its way to the buoys, Owen says, but it’s more likely that the sounds are coming from the same layer as the ocean.
“It is very difficult to hear the noise below the layer [superior] Because the sound is broken by this drop in temperature.”
“But when it’s in that isothermal layer…between the surface and 180 meters away…the sound behaves in a very direct way.”
If the sounds are indeed coming from the submarine, Owen says, rescuers should be able to quickly locate them.
“[Eles podem] Put a pattern of floats around that area so they can have a cross-site.”
“A sonobuoy receiver is able to track this kind of information very quickly…it will take very little time to find it.”
However, underwater vehicles sent to search for the source of the noise “have so far tested negative,” according to the latest update from the US Coast Guard.
Experts say what happens after you locate the branch can really slow things down.
It is still not known how deep the ship was or what problems it encountered.
David Russell, a former Royal Navy officer who helped search for the Kursk, told the BBC: “It’s possible that the submarine was on the surface somewhere and it hasn’t been found yet.”
If the submarine is in the upper layer of the ocean, recovery can be very fast.
But if you’re at deeper levels and need help popping up, it’s going to be a complicated task.
“We’re talking about bringing it back to the surface using some sort of sophisticated drone to attach wires and ropes to the ship and then pull it up or put it on a winch,” Russell said.
“We’ve done this kind of thing before, though never – as far as I know – in this kind of depth.”
But such a process would likely require equipment that Owen says is not yet available in the region.
US and Canadian deepwater agencies, the Navy and commercial companies are assisting in the rescue operation, which is being carried out in the US city of Boston, Massachusetts.
Military aircraft, a submarine, and several ships – some equipped with underwater vehicles (remotely operated vehicle) – roam the search area.
However, they are more useful for gathering information than in any recovery situation, says Owen.
“You need heavy equipment to bring something like that in,” he adds.
“Even lowering the extra cable you’re going to tie down needs its own huge winch, because you’re probably talking about 5 to 6 kilometers of wire.”
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