Officials investigating the doomed Titanic submersible will review voice recordings and other data from its mothership to try to determine what happened and whether any criminality occurred, according to reports.
Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada visited the Polar Prince, the lead ship of the OceanGate Titan submarine, on Saturday “to gather information from the ship’s voyage data recorder and other ship’s systems containing useful information”. TSB President Kathy Fox told CNN.
Fox said the agency wanted to “find out what happened and why and find out what needs to change to reduce the chance or risk of such events happening in the future,” according to the report.
She said the voice recordings “could be useful in our investigation”, but insisted the purpose of the investigation was not to point blame.
Meanwhile, authorities are working to determine whether the case warrants a criminal investigation, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superintendent Kent Osmond said Saturday.
“Such an investigation will only proceed if our review of the circumstances indicates that criminal, federal or provincial laws may have been violated,” he told reporters.
OceanGate Expeditions’ submersible Titan was carrying five passengers early June 18 when it descended into the Atlantic Ocean bound for the wreckage of the Titanic 12,500 feet below.
Those on board ranged in age from 19 to 77 and were described as two billionaires, a pioneer, the company’s CEO and founder, and an aspiring college student.
The five people were sealed in the submarine by 17 bolts, which could only be opened from the outside. It is estimated that they had 96 hours of oxygen reserves when they left the surface of the water.
Experts estimated that the submarine had reached just under 10,000 feet below the surface – about an hour and 45 minutes into its expedition – when communications were lost.
Reports of recurring “underwater noises” characterized by both “knocking” and “tapping” raised hopes at first, but were later deemed unrelated to the missing crew.
The U.S. Coast Guard said on Thursday it had found a series of debris on the ocean floor about 1,600 feet from the Titanic’s bow, indicating the submarine had suffered a “catastrophic implosion.”
The bodies of the five occupants of the submarine – Sulaiman Dawood, 19; his father, business tycoon, Shahzada, 48; British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58; famous Titanic explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77; and OceanGate founder and CEO Stockton Rush, 61, are unlikely to be recovered.
The Marine Technology Society sent a letter to Rush in 2018 warning the head of OceanGate of the critical importance of its prototypes undergoing proper third-party testing before being taken to such depths to ensure the safety of its passengers.
Rush reportedly refused to do so.