Here’s What Experts Have Learned a Year After the Titan Submersible Disaster

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Jun 18, 2024

The mysterious disappearance of five millionaires in a tiny submarine captivated the world for a week in 2023. Now, a year after the disaster, officials are rehashing the details but coming up with more questions than answers.

Tuesday marks a year since the deep-sea voyage searching for Titanic wreckage went missing. The following search revealed an explosive end to the expensive thrill ride.

Quick Action Taken by the U.S. Coast Guard

In June 2023, when the Titan submersible was first notified as missing from its mothership’s ordinance, the Coast Guard jumped into action.

A man wearing a marine uniform speaks into multiple microphones during a large press conference

Source: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A high-level investigation and search occurred throughout the icy waters off the coast of Portland, Maine. Discoveries ultimately concluded that the unconventional design and the creator’s wishes to forgo conventional safety checks were to blame for the disaster.

The Original Mission of the Titan Submersible

OceanGate, the company that owned the Titan submersible, manned dozens of expeditions to the ocean floor to search for Titanic wreckage.

An underwater photo of the rusty titanic wreckage next to a small submarine

Source: @blasmolina_name/X

Due to the limited visibility of the submarine, the members on board could only see the exterior from a small camera while the crews above guided their movement.

Titanic Director James Cameron Reveals His Theory of Lost Communication

When the search was underway, Titanic director James Cameron, one of the world’s leading experts on the Titanic wreckage, weighed in on the issues that the submersible may have experienced. While making his 1997 hit film, Cameron visited the Titanic wreckage on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean 33 times on his personal underwater craft.

Two men move large white pieces of metal next to large boats

When the underwater craft was first notified as missing to the coast guard, it had lost all communication with above-water crews for more than 8 hours. Because of intense underwater pressure, the boat lost all power and communication, which occurred mostly through SMS text messaging.

Answers Are Coming From a Post Mortem Investigation

In a statement issued last week, the US Coast Guard noted that it would not share any results on the anniversary of the disaster.

A man stands at a podium with multiple microphones in front of a large ship

Source: @its_Ahmad_word/X

However, in the next few months, more information will likely be discovered and shared with the public.

What Is OceanGate Doing Today?

OceanGate was owned by Stockton Rush, one of the five men lost in the tragedy. Without its CEO, the company decided to close operations in July of last year.

A man with grey hair sits in a small submarine

Source: @HoodSodiq/X

In a statement last Tuesday, the company said that it “has ceased all operations and is continuing to cooperate with authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard, in their investigations.” They also added a statement to the families lost in the expedition: “our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones, as well as everyone impacted by this tragedy.”


Details of the Final Expedition

On June 18, 2023, the Titan submersible made its final expedition. On the same morning, the vessel lost all communication with the support vessel guiding their movement from above.

A view of the small submersible

Source: @gunguntarih/X

When the Coast Guard was notified of the five men lost on board, rescue ships, planes, and other vessels were dispatched roughly 435 miles south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, where the Titanic first sank. The Transportation Board of Canada said on Monday that there are currently other submarines and submersibles operating within Canadian waters.


Who Was On Board?

Among the members on board were OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, two members of a prominent Pakistani family, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, British adventurer Hamish Harding, and French Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargoelet.

Five men wearing matching blue jump suits inside of a small vessel

Source: @hente_afsc/X

The four guests each paid roughly $250,000 for the expedition that should have taken one day. After five days of searching, the Coast Guard was forced to declare the mission lost and the members on board deceased.


Former OceanGate Employees Will Mark the Anniversary

A former advisor at OceanGate, David Concannon, said he will mark the one-year anniversary privately with a group of company employees.

The small white OceanGate submersible above ground

Source: Public Domain/Wikipedia Commons

Former employees of the company include high-achieving scientists, volunteers, engineers, and mission specialists.


Other Members Remembered at the Global Exploration Summit

Harding and Nargeolet were members of The Explorers Club, a private society dedicated to research, exploration, and conservation. Their legacies will be remembered at the Global Exploration Summit this week in Portugal.

A man wearing a white t-shirt stands in front a small yellow submarine

Source: @JCLarsonneur/X

Rochard Garrior, the group’s president, said, “Then, as now, it hit us on a personal level very deeply.”


A Large Amount of People Have Used OceanGate

From 2021 to 2023, OceanGate undertook dozens of expeditions to the Titanic wreckage.

A man takes a photo with the remnants of the Titanic through a small peep hole

Source: @PopBase/X

Although it’s unknown how many well-known billionaires or celebrities have been on the same ship, some came out with their personal stories following the tragedy. Mike Reiss, creator and producer of ‘The Simpsons’ revealed that he went on three different expeditions with OceanGate.


More Undersea Explorations of the Titanic Are Planned

Several deep-sea explorers said that the Titan disaster shook their community. However, Garriot believes that a new world of undersea exploration is just a few years away.

A small submarine descending under the ocean surface

Source: Public Domain/Wikipedia Commons

The company that currently owns the Titanic wreckage plans to visit the sunken ocean liner in July using its own remote-operated vehicles.