Missing Titanic sub: Five crew have less than '40 hours of breathable air' left

ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson reports on the missing submersible and the ongoing rescue operation

Rescuers searching for the submersible which went missing while on a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck estimated on Tuesday afternoon that there was only "40 hours of breathable air" left onboard - enough to last until 10am BST on Thursday.

The five-person OceanGate Expeditions vessel, named Titan, was reported to be late back on Sunday evening about 435 miles south of St John's, Newfoundland.

Among those onboard are British trio Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood and his son, Sulaiman Dawood.

French submersible pilot Paul-Henry Nargeolet, and chief executive and founder of OceanGate, Stockton Rush, are also part of the voyage.

With the temperature on the ocean floor near freezing and an estimated 40-hour oxygen supply remaining on the vessel, occupants are at increasing risk of hypothermia or suffocation.

On Tuesday, Captain Jamie Frederick of the US Coast Guard said a “unified command” of multiple agencies had been formed to tackle the “very complex problem” of finding Titan.

He told a press conference in Boston there were “approximately 40/41 hours” of breathable air, of the vessel’s reported 96-hour oxygen supply, left on board. Search and rescue teams have searched 10,000 square miles of ocean.

The family of Mr Harding have said they are "very grateful" for the messages of support.

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush (left), pictured in 2013, is also aboard Titan. Credit: AP

A statement released through his Dubai-based company, Action Aviation, said both the Harding family and staff are "thankful for the continued efforts of the authorities and companies that have stepped in to aid in the rescue efforts."

"We put great faith and trust in their expertise... The team at Action Aviation are extremely proud of Hamish and we look forward to welcoming him home."

Vital equipment needed to help rescue the craft is stuck in Jersey, it has been revealed, due to an issue importing the rescue gear into the USA.

A statement from the Dawood family, who live in Surbiton, south-west London, said: "As of now, contact has been lost with their submersible craft and there is limited information available.

"We are very grateful for the concern being shown by our colleagues and friends and would like to request everyone to pray for their safety while granting the family privacy at this time.

"The family is well looked after and are praying to Allah for the safe return of their family members."

ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports on the enormous difficulties facing the rescue operation

Mr Dawood is a longtime supporter of The Prince's Trust International and The British Asian Trust, both of which are charities founded by King Charles III.

Charles has asked to be kept informed on the search for the submersible - and that his thoughts and prayers are with the Dawood family and all those involved in the incident.

Earlier on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the prime minister has said: "The families involved will be deeply concerned and his thoughts are with them and the Foreign Office is providing support."

Rishi Sunak "clearly wants to pass on his thanks to those that are responding" to the situation, his spokesperson said.

Captain Frederick said: "Yesterday we set up a unified command consisting of expertise from the United States Coast Guard, the United States Navy, Canadian Armed Forces and Coast Guard and the Titan's parent company OceanGate Expedition."

Further search and rescue assets have been called in to help with the operation

"This is a complex search effort, which requires multiple agencies with subject matter expertise and specialised equipment.

"While the US Coast Guard has assumed the role of search and rescue mission coordinator, we do not have all of the necessary expertise and equipment required in search of this nature.

"The unified command brings that expertise and additional capability together to maximise effort in solving this very complex problem."

He added: "Since Sunday, the Coast Guard has co-ordinated search efforts with the US and Canadian Coast Guard, Air National Guard aircraft and the Polar Prince, which has searched a combined 7,600 square miles, an area larger than the state of Connecticut."

The US Coast Guard said the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince and 106 Rescue were continuing to conduct surface searches.

A Pentagon spokesperson also confirmed on Tuesday that three C-130 aircraft had been dispatched to search for the missing submersible.

Mark Butler, managing director of Action Aviation, said: "There is still plenty of time to facilitate a rescue mission, there is equipment on board for survival in this event.

"We're all hoping and praying he comes back safe and sound."

Mr Harding holds three Guinness World Records, including the longest duration at full ocean depth by a crewed vessel when in March 2021, he and ocean explorer Victor Vescovo dived to the lowest depth of the Mariana Trench.

In June 2022, he went into space on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket.

His cousin, Kathleen Cosnett, told The Daily Telegraph she saw Mr Harding as "daring" and "inquisitive", and that she was "devastated" to learn he was missing.

On social media at the weekend, he said he was "proud to finally announce" he would be aboard the mission to the wreck of the Titanic, the luxury ocean liner which hit an iceberg and sank in 1912, killing more than 1,500 people.

The RMS Titanic in her resting place Credit: Atlantic Productions/PA

The Explorer's Club, of which Mr Harding is a founding member of, shared the news of his disappearance on Instagram with club president Richard Garriot saying: "When I saw Hamish last week… his excitement about this expedition was palpable," he said.

"I know he was looking forward to conducting research at the site.

"We all join in the fervent hope that the submersible is located as quickly as possible and the crew is safe."

OceanGate Expeditions said its focus was on those aboard the vessel 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 re-establish contact with the submersible," the company said in a statement.

"We are working toward the safe return of the crew members."

A court document filed by OceanGate in the US in April states that the submersible, named Titan, can dive to 13,120ft "with a comfortable safety margin", the Associated Press reported on Monday.

Titan weighs 20,000lb, is made of "titanium and filament wound carbon fibre" and has proven to "withstand the enormous pressures of the deep ocean", OceanGate reportedly said.

The submersible was taking part in OceanGate’s third annual voyage to the monitor the decay of the ship's wreckage, following expeditions in 2021 and 2022.

The initial group of tourists in 2021 paid $100,000-150,000 (£78,260-117,400) apiece to go on the trip.

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