A submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the Titanic has renewed interest in the famous shipwreck, as well as prompted questions regarding what it takes to reach the site 2.5 miles below the ocean’s surface.
The submersible named Titan was reported overdue Sunday night, setting off a frantic search with the vessel only having a four-day oxygen supply. The Titan was expected to spend two hours descending to the Titanic, time for exploration, and then another two more resurfacing.
Lost aboard the vessel are pilot Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, which oversaw the mission. His passengers are a British adventurer, two members of a Pakistani business family and a Titanic expert.
The famous RMS Titanic sank in 1912, but the wreckage wasn’t discovered until nearly 75 years later.
The White Star Line passenger liner R.M.S. Titanic embarking on its ill-fated maiden voyage. (Photo: Getty Images)
The Titanic’s wreck site is located 963 miles northeast of New York and 453 miles southeast of the Newfoundland coastline, sitting 12,000 feet below sea level.
Since then, fewer than 250 people in the world have personally viewed the Titanic wreckage, which sits about 2.5 miles below the ocean’s surface, according to OceanGate.
Here are some of the notable people and companies who have conducted expeditions to the site since it’s discovery in 1985:
Famous filmmaker James Cameron famously made the 1997 film "Titanic," which became the highest-grossing film in history at the time, as well as earning 11 Academy Awards.
The movie "Titanic," written and directed by James Cameron. Seen here from left, Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack and Kate Winslet as Rose. Initial USA theatrical wide release December 19, 1997. Screen capture. Paramount Pictures. (Photo by CBS via Getty Im
His interest in shipwrecks served as a motivation to make the film.
"I made Titanic because I wanted to dive to the shipwreck, not because I particularly wanted to make the movie," Cameron told Playboy Magazine in 2010. "The Titanic was the Mount Everest of shipwrecks, and as a diver I wanted to do it right."
Cameron made several submersible dives to the wreck itself prior to the movie’s release. He later formed Earthship Productions to make documentary films about ocean exploration and conservation.
In total, he has done 33 dives to the Titanic wreckage site since the film’s release, according to National Geographic.
RMS Titanic, Inc.
RMS Titanic, Inc., a company that aims to preserve the memory of the famous ship, was granted salvage rights to the wreckage by a U.S. Federal Court order in 1994 – allowing the recovery of artifacts from the site.
The company was formed "for the purpose of exploring the wreck of Titanic and its surrounding ocean areas; obtaining oceanographic material and scientific data; and using the data and retrieved artifacts for historical verification, scientific education, and public awareness," according to its website.
It also documents and photographs the Titanic in detail in an effort to maintain a comprehensive archive.
Since 1987, RMS Titanic, Inc. has conducted eight research missions to the wreck site – with the most recent occurring in 2010.
OceanGate Expeditions provides crewed submersible services for exploration, industry and research purposes. It aims to make the deep sea "more accessible for human exploration than ever before," according to its website.
Founded by Rush in 2009, it has several custom-built submersibles including Titan, which was designed to reach depths of 13,123 feet necessary to visit the wreck of the Titanic. The Titan utilizes SpaceX's Starlink satellite communications system when at sea.
FILE - An undated photo shows tourist submersible belongs to OceanGate begins to descent at a sea. Search and rescue operations continue by US Coast Guard in Boston after a tourist submarine bound for the Titanic's wreckage site went missing off the
OceanGate’s expeditions to the Titanic wreck site include archaeologists and marine biologists. The company also brings people who pay $250,000 to come along, taking turns operating sonar equipment and performing other tasks in the submersible.
The company launched successful dives to the Titanic site in 2021 and 2022, according to its website.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.