The crew on board the Titan submersible trapped thousands of feet below the sea are now believed to have run out of oxygen.
The five members on board the ship that had been travelling to try and visit the wreck of the Titanic have now used up their final remaining oxygen tanks, after being trapped since Sunday, it was reported.
Search efforts have been ramped up today, with at least 10 vessels using sonar detection to try and track down the crew.
The French research vessel L’Atalante arrived in the search zone at around 2am, and is carrying the Victor 6000.
The Victor is an unmanned remote-controlled robot sub that can reach depths of 20,000ft and will arrive at the Titanic’s wreck at 12,500ft around two hours after entering the water.
It has arms that can cut cables – or dislodge a trapped or stranded vessel – and may be able to fix a cable onto the sub before it is hauled several miles to the surface by a giant winch called a Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System.
Yesterday ‘noises’ that were believed to be the crew banging were picked up by ships close to the area in Newfoundland, Canada, where they went missing.
It was announced by the US coast guard last night that the crew will run out of oxygen at lunchtime today.
However it has been reported that the final breaths could be taken at 1pm elsewhere.
More ships and expertise were scrambled to help find the missing deep-sea vessel, which lost communication on Sunday while about 435 miles south of St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.
OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7m (22ft)-long vessel, which has British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding on board, would last the crew of five 96 hours.
But Rear Admiral John Mauger confirmed the main focus of the US Coast Guard and the unified command in charge of the operation was to retrieve the vessel in what is still being seen as an active search and rescue.
He told Sky News: ‘We continue to keep the crew members and the families in our thoughts as we proceed with this search and rescue while we’re cognisant of the time and we’ve factored in a lot of data and information into the search.
‘This is still an active search and rescue at this point and we’re using the equipment that we have on the bottom right now, the remote-operated vehicles to expand our search capability, and then also to provide rescue capability as well.’
When questioned about the noises detected by the sonar buoys dropped into the ocean, he revealed initial reports found that it was ‘ocean background noise’.
He said: ‘We’ve taken that information and shared it with top leading experts from the US Navy and the Canadian Navy, and they’re working on the analysis of that information, they’re continuing to work on the analysis of that information.
‘The initial reports is that there’s a lot of the sounds that were generated were from background ocean noise, but they continue to … look for all available information there.
‘What’s important to me, and what’s important as the unified command, is that we’ve continued search in the areas where noise was detected with the ROVs that we have from the time of that detection, so we’re not waiting for this analysis to take action.
‘The analysis is really helpful to our overall search-and-rescue efforts, but we’re not waiting on it, we’ve moved the remote operated vehicles that we’ve had on site to those areas where noise was detected.’
In a statement published online Guillermo Sohnlein, co-founder of OceanGate, thanked the people involved in the search and rescue, as well as confirming the pilot to be his ‘co-founder and friend’.
He also claims that the time window the people on board have is larger than the estimated 96 hours.
In the statement, he said: ‘Today will be a critical day in this search and rescue mission, as the sub’s life support supplies are starting to run low.
‘I’m certain that Stockton and the rest of the crew realized days ago that the best thing they can do to ensure their rescue is to extend the limits of those supplies by relaxing as much as possible.
‘I firmly believe that the time window available for their rescue is longer than what most people think.
‘I would encourage everyone to remain hopeful for getting the crew back safely.’
Michael Patrick O’Mahoney, 71, who has spent over 40 years on deep-sea expeditions and working with submersibles told Metro.co.uk that he believes the crew have already died.
He thinks that they may well have been dead for a number of hours depending on how deep the sub is.
He said: ‘This is a rich man’s toy, it isn’t what we used to use on the rigs, the equipment was far more complex, however we didn’t have any manned crafts.
‘I think the vessel imploded a few days ago, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the poor people down there.
‘If they aren’t already dead, without any oxygen left then they will be within a matter of hours after they run out.
‘If they can’t get any power down there, then their oxygen scrubbers won’t be working either.
‘These men might have had lots of money but no sense.’
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