'Tapping Sounds' Detected in Search for Titanic Sub

It's not at all clear, however, what that might mean
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2023 12:01 AM CDT
'Banging Sounds' Detected in Search for Titanic Sub
This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic.   (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)

"Banging sounds" were detected "every 30 minutes" in the area that a Canadian aircraft was searching for the missing Titanic submersible, according to internal email updates sent to the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by Rolling Stone. The aircraft involved "has underwater detection capabilities from the air," the email says, and four hours after the sounds were initially detected Tuesday, "additional sonar was deployed and banging was still heard." A retired US submarine commander previously told Sky News the sub's crew might use rhythmic banging on the walls in an effort to transmit sound to search vessels using sonar. The email to DHS did not specify a time, nor did it speculate on a cause of the banging, and none of the official agencies contacted by Rolling Stone returned a comment.

A DHS official did, however, anonymously (and confusingly, given the timeline that has been reported) tell the publication that no noise has been detected since Monday. In its own email, the Explorers Society, a travel and research group that says two of its members were aboard the Titan submersible when it went missing Sunday, said Tuesday afternoon that, "It is being reported that at 2am local time on site that sonar detected potential ‘tapping sounds’ at the location, implying crew may be alive and signaling." CNN also later reported on the internal government memo reporting the banging that was heard at two different times four hours apart, and the outlet notes that a separate memo from later Tuesday night indicated "additional acoustic feedback was heard and will assist in vectoring surface assets and also indicating continued hope of survivors."

Further confusing matters, a US Coast Guard statement from early Wednesday says that "Canadian P-3 aircraft detected underwater noises in the search area. As a result, ROV operations were relocated in an attempt to explore the origin of the noises. Those ROV searches have yielded negative results but continue." It's not clear whether those "noises" are the same as those previously mentioned by the various media outlets. The Coast Guard earlier said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference that the search has so far "not yielded any results." The DHS official who spoke to Rolling Stone said the "situation looks bleak." The sub's 96-hour oxygen supply is estimated to run out Thursday morning local time, CBS 8 reports. The retired sub captain who spoke to Sky News says the crew is likely trying to remain as calm as possible, possibly even meditating, to conserve oxygen. (Read more Titanic stories.)

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