“These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans,” OceanGate Expeditions said in a statement.Â
“Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time.”
An unmanned deep-sea robot deployed from a Canadian ship discovered the wreckage of the submersible on Thursday morning about 488 metres from the bow of the century-old wreck, 4km below the surface, US coast guard Rear Admiral John Mauger said at a press conference.
“The debris is consistent with a catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber,” Mauger said.
Rescue teams from several countries have spent days searching thousands of square miles of open seas with planes and ships for any sign of the 6.7-metre Titan, operated by US-based OceanGate Expeditions.
The submersible lost contact on Sunday morning with its support ship about an hour and 45 minutes into what should have been a two-hour descent.
The five people aboard included the British billionaire and explorer Hamish Harding, 58; Pakistani-born business magnate Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his 19-year-old son, Suleman, both British citizens; French oceanographer and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, who had visited the wreck dozens of times; and Stockton Rush, the US founder and chief executive of OceanGate, who was piloting the submersible.
“He is where he really loved being,” Nargeolet’s daughter Sidonie said on Thursday before the discovery of the debris was announced.
The detection of undersea noises on Tuesday and Wednesday using sonar buoys dropped from Canadian aircraft had temporarily offered hope that the people on board the submersible were alive and trying to communicate by banging on the hull.
But officials warned that analysis of the sound was inconclusive and that the noises might not have emanated from the Titan at all.
Even if the Titan was intact, the air supply on board was estimated at 96 hours when it entered the water on Sunday about 8am, meaning that the occupants likely would have run out of oxygen by Thursday morning.
The Titanic, which sank in 1912 on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg, killing more than 1500 people, lies about 1450km east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and 640km south of St John’s, Newfoundland.