By Shawn Cohen, In St. John’s Canada, For Dailymail.Com
15:05 22 Jun 2023, updated 18:02 22 Jun 2023
It was their last cup of coffee before heading off to sea.
The crew of the missing Titan submersible stopped into a local café just before their fateful adventure.
After waiting for days for the weather to break, they seemed excited that the fog had lifted Friday morning. They entered the Terre Café in St. John’s around 8am Friday, staff there exclusively told DailyMail.com.
‘Before leaving on their last expedition, a bunch of the crew came in here and ordered a bunch of coffees before going out,’ barista James Law, 27, said Wednesday from the same café where he served them freshly ground coffee.
‘It was about nine or 10 of them. I could tell who they were because they’re all literally wearing jackets that say Titanic on them. Everyone was wearing that blue OceanGate Titanic jacket.
‘Whenever we see guys wearing those expedition jackets, we just say, ”what are you guys up to?”’ Law pointed out. ‘The group came down, and they’re like, ”we’re heading out,”’ he said.
‘They were saying they were excited for a good expedition. And a few of them seemed in a rush. They were a little behind schedule. That was the first day there was a break in the fog for a while. They were in a rush to go. They were excited to go,’ Law said.
The crew boarded the Polar Prince vessel, docked just outside the hotel.
‘Literally, right where that buoy is, that’s where OceanGate left from,’ he said. ‘At the moment, I did not know who they were.’
The Titan submersible began its dive to the Titanic wreck site on Sunday morning, 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. Officials have now found debris in the search site area.
Hours later, the main vessel lost contact with the five-member crew. The news broke Sunday night after they were reported missing, with oxygen supply running out.
Law noticed a few of the crew members when their identities were revealed.
‘I recognized one of the faces, the CEO, Rush,’ Law told DailyMail.com. ‘And I also recognized that British explorer guy.’
He was referring to OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush and British billionaire Hamish Harding. Also missing are Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman, along with French explorer PH Nargeolet.
His first reaction was to think of a friend’s brother, Marc Russell, who died along with his boatmate Joey Jenkins while fishing for cod a few miles out in September 2021.
‘This whole Titanic situation has got me thinking about that, to be honest,’ Law said.
‘Marc was a codfish captain, and they were just out fishing when the boat disappeared. The Canadian Coast Guard launched a massive search. Then after a few weeks when they called off the search, they sent sonar boats onto the ocean to see if they could find the ship.
‘They couldn’t even find it. The only thing they found was a bait bin floating.’
‘The sad thing is that the last radar ping they got from that boat was three kilometers from the harbor,’ he added. ‘The parents would be able to see where the boat went down from their bedroom window, if the weather wasn’t completely fogged up that day.’
He said when the Coast Guard initially called off that search, locals protested.
‘There were protests here in town because they initially called off the search after a few days, and people pushed them to continue the search for another week or so. It was certainly a big deal down here.’
‘And then last year, a couple guys went hunting for turr, hit a shoal and the boat flipped,’ he said. ‘They found the boat, but didn’t find the bodies.’
Law is not optimistic the Titan crew will be rescued in time.
‘I think it’s extremely unlikely they’ll be found,’ he said. ‘I’m really, really hoping for the best, let me be clear. But it seems like the odds are something bad has already happened. And when you’re down that deep, with that much pressure, that far away, it looks like a really tough situation.
‘It’s not something you expect,’ he said of his encounter with the Titan crew the morning they set out.
‘You live on the ocean, there are a fair number of tragedies,’ Law said. ‘But it doesn’t occur to you that something bad is going to happen, until afterwards. They all seemed quite cheery before they left.
‘I saw something on the internet saying something along the lines of, ”the Titanic has taken more lives,”’ he added. ‘It’s insanely crazy to think that they stopped in here. It feels sad, eerie.’
A flotilla of international rescue ships are now steaming towards the Titanic rescue site, with the Coast Guard confirming debris has been found.
Boats from France, Canada and the US Navy are racing towards the site carrying the only specialist equipment in the world capable of making the 12,500ft dive to try to find the missing vessel.
The sub lost communications with its operator, OceanGate Expeditions, less than two hours into its dive to the famous shipwreck on Sunday.
A glimmer of hope lit up the bleak search yesterday when the Coast Guard announced that ‘banging’ sounds had been detected underwater. It remains unclear if the banging came from the submersible, but it has now become the ‘focus’ of the mission.
Some experts say the fact the sounds were even detected could suggest that the sub is closer to the surface than initially feared.
The US Coast Guard insisted on Thursday they still hope to find the five adventurers alive despite predicting oxygen had run out – as the co-founder of the firm that organized the trip insisted rescuers ‘have longer than we think’.
The world is now praying for a ‘miracle’ after rescuers estimated the vital oxygen supply would end at 12.08pm GMT (7.08am EST and 9.08pm Sydney).
Rear Admiral John Mauger, of the US Coast Guard, said the operation ‘remains an active search’ and he ‘remains hopeful’ thanks to ‘favorable‘ weather conditions. Asked about the banging noises, he said initial analysis suggested they were ‘background ocean noise’ but this was still being examined.
And a French ship viewed as the best and final hope of finding the missing Titanic submersible has also dropped its remote-controlled sub to find five missing adventurers. L’Atalante arrived on the scene at 11.48am GMT (7.48ET) and has deployed Victor 6000, which can reach depths of 20,000ft and will arrive at the Titanic’s wreck in the next two hours.
Victor 6000 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 with more than three miles of cable called a Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System on Horizon Arctic.
Despite fears their oxygen supplies have run out, there is still hope in the most desperate of situations. Experts believe that the 96-hour oxygen supply number is an imprecise estimate and could be extended if those on board have taken measures to conserve breathable air including lying still and even sleeping.