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Missing Titan submersible: South African search and rescue community sends solidarity

A small vessel submerged in water

An image courtesy of OceanGate Expeditions showing their Titan submersible vessel launching from a platform. Picture: OceanGate Expeditions/ AFP

Published Jun 22, 2023


Pretoria - As international search and rescue teams race against time to locate the submersible vessel, known as the Titan, South Africans have sent words of solidarity to the rescue teams.

One pilot, one crew member and three passengers were on board when the small vessel went missing on Sunday in the North Atlantic. The Titan was on a daring mission to explore the historic wreckage of the Titanic ship in deep waters off Canada's coast.

On behalf of members of the South African search and rescue community, Dr Marc de Vos, a seasoned oceanographer and National Sea Rescue Institute volunteer also sent out a heart-warming message to the families of the people in the vessel.

“At the outset I must just say as members of the search and rescue community our thoughts are first and foremost with those on board the sub, as well as their families and our colleagues from the broader search and rescue community who are involved in the search,” De Vos spoke to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika on Thursday morning.

According to reports, the tour on the submersible vessel was the highlight of a tourist expedition that cost $250,000 (about R4.5 million) per person.

De Vos highlighted that despite the headwinds and complexities posed by multiple factors, he still hopes for a positive outcome from the massive search and rescue operation.

“What I would say is that search and rescue is fundamentally a hopeful endeavour – that is kind of a guiding principle in search and rescue.

“I am certain that all the operators that are involved will be working in that perspective and we certainly hope along with them that we will see a positive outcome,” he said.

The Titan underwater vehicle, owned by OceanGate Expeditions, was on a mission to explore the wreckage of the Titanic when it lost contact with a research vessel on the surface.

According to reports, the missing people only had oxygen to survive for three to four days.