This post has been updated with additional information from Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger.
The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard are searching for five people who were aboard a submersible that was reported missing Sunday afternoon, officials have told USNI News.
The submersible was reported missing around 6 p.m. and was carrying five on an expedition for an undersea tour of the wreck of RMS Titanic about 1 hour and 45 minutes into the dive.
As of early afternoon on Monday, the search area was about 900 nautical miles east of Cape Cod, Mass., Coast Guard spokesperson Lt. Samantha Corcoran told USNI News on Monday.
U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian C-130s had flown over the area, Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger said in a Monday afternoon press conference.
JRCC Halifax has tasked one Royal Canadian Air Force Aurora aircraft out of 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia for aerial search, and Canadian Coast Guard Vessel Kopit Hopson 1752 will also be assisting MRCC Boston with a surface search for the submersible.
— Halifax JRCC CCCOS (@hfxjrcc) June 19, 2023
Aircraft spotters also reported that a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora anti-submarine warfare aircraft was also searching for the missing submersible as well as a U.S. Air National Guard C-130. Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Halifax tweeted on Monday that Canadian Coast Guard Vessel CCGS Kopit Hopson 1752 would assist.
Ship spotters tracked the Royal Canadian Navy offshore patrol vessel HMCS Harry De Wolfe (AOPV-430) heading to the search area. Mauger said the aircraft would use sonobuoys to attempt to locate the missing submersible.
As of this posting, the U.S. Department of Defense has not deployed assets to assist in the search, a Pentagon spokesperson told USNI News.
According to the Coast Guard, the submersible was board the Canadian-flagged MV Polar Prince. The former Canadian Coast Guard research ice breaker departed St. John’s, Canada on Friday bound for the Titanic wreck, according to Marine Traffic.
According to press reports, Polar Prince carried Titan a five-person submersible with a group to visit the site of the Titanic wreck.
The dive is run by OceanGate Expeditions. The company offers customers a seat for $250,000 aboard Titan to be part of a mapping project of the wreck’s debris field, according to the company’s promotional materials.
“Intrepid travelers will sail from the Atlantic coast of Canada for an 8-day expedition to dive on the iconic wreck that lies 380 miles offshore and 3,800 meters below the surface, according to an archived version of the Ocean Gate Expedition website.
“Your dive will provide not only a thrilling and unique travel experience but also help the scientific community learn more about the wreck and the deep ocean environment.”
“Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families. We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible,” OceanGate said. “We are working toward the safe return of the crewmembers.”
“The purpose of the submersible was to visit the wreck site and explore the wreck site,” Mauger said.
The submersible Titan was built by OceanGate, a private U.S. company based in Everett, Wash.
Mauger did not confirm the identity of anyone on board, but the family of Hamish Harding, a 58-year-old British explorer, was aboard Titan. On Harding’s social media, he said the submersible would attempt to make the dive in a lull during a period of rough weather.
Titan is rated for a diving depth of about 13,000 feet and is made from titanium and carbon fiber.
According to the company, there were expeditions in 2021 and 2022.