Officials investigating the doomed Titanic submersible will examine voice recordings and other data from its mothership to try to determine what happened and whether any criminality occurred, according to reports.
Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada visited the Polar Prince, the OceanGate Titan sub’s lead ship, Saturday “to collect information from the vessel’s voyage data recorder and other vessel systems that contain useful information,” TSB Chairwoman Kathy Fox told CNN.
Fox said agency wants to “find out what happened and why and to find out what needs to change to reduce the chance or the risk of such occurrences in the future,” according to the report.
She said voice recordings “could be useful in our investigation” but insisted that the investigation’s purpose was not to point blame.
Meanwhile, authorities are working to determine whether the case warrants a criminal investigation, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superintendent Kent Osmond on Saturday.
“Such an investigation will proceed only if our examination of the circumstances indicate criminal, federal or provincial laws may possibly have been broken,” he told reporters.
OceanGate Expeditions’ Titan submersible was carrying five passengers early June 18 when it descended into the Atlantic Ocean bound for the Titanic wreckage 12,500 feet below.
Those aboard ranged in age from 19 to 77 and have been described as two billionaires, a pioneer, the company’s CEO and founder and a budding college student.
The five people were sealed into the sub by 17 bolts, which could only have been opened from the outside.They were estimated to have had 96 hours of oxygen reserves when they left the water’s surface.
Experts estimated the sub had reached just shy of 10,000 feet below the surface — roughly an hour and 45 minutes into its expedition — when communications were lost.
Reports of recurring “underwater noises” characterized as both “banging” and “tapping” spurred hope early on but were later deemed unrelated to the missing crew.
The US Coast Guard announced Thursday that it had found an array of debris on the ocean floor, about 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic, indicating the sub suffered a “catastrophic implosion.”
The bodies of the sub’s five occupants — Sulaiman Dawood, 19; his business tycoon father, Shahzada, 48; British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58; famed Titanic explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77; and OceanGate founder and CEO Stockton Rush, 61 — are unlikely to be recovered.
The Marine Technology Society sent a letter to Rush in 2018 warning the OceanGate head of the critical importance that its prototypes undergo proper third-party testing before being taken to such depths to ensure the safety of its passengers.
Rush allegedly refused to do so.