Five people who were on a sub that went missing during a voyage to the wreckage of the Titanic did not survive, the company that planned the trip said Thursday, as the U.S. Coast Guard said the OceanGate vessel experienced a “catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber,” and confirmed that the debris found on the sea floor were pieces of the missing sub.
“This is a incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the sea floor and the debris is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel,” Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger told reporters.
An ROV, or remotely operated vehicle, from a Canadian vessel found the tail cone of the sub named Titan about 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic on Thursday morning, Mauger said during a briefing in Boston on Thursday afternoon. He said more debris was found and authorities consulted with experts who determined the debris was consistent with the sub.
“On behalf of the United States Coast Guard and the entire unified command, I offer my deepest condolences to the families,” Mauger said. “I can only imagine what this has been like for them, and I hope that this discovery provides some solace during this difficult time.”
Paul Hankins, a U.S. Navy salvage expert, said at the briefing that the sub was found scattered in pieces, and that the team “will do the best we can to fully map out what’s down there.”
“Essentially we found five different major pieces of debris that told us that it was the remains of the Titan. The initial thing we found was the nose cone,” he said. “We then found a large debris field” followed by “a second, smaller debris field.”
Underwater robots will remain at the search site to gather additional information about the sub, Mauger said. Another robot from a French vessel was also launched into the water Thursday.
“This was a incredibly complex case, and we’re still working to develop the details for the timeline involved with this casualty and the response,” he said.
Asked about the prospects for recovering the remains of the deceased, Mauger said, “We’ll continue to work and continue to search the area down there, but I don’t have an answer for prospects at this time.”
Thursday’s news followed a massive international search effort for the lost 21-foot sub Titan.
In addition to the robots, search planes and ships have been deployed to the northern Atlantic Ocean in the hopes of finding the sub approximately 900 nautical miles from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Coast Guard said Wednesday the search area was about twice the size of Connecticut.
The sub launched into the Atlantic from a Canadian research vessel Sunday morning, and the ship lost contact with the Titan an hour and 45 minutes into the dive.
Officials previously said the sub had a limited amount of oxygen on board that could have lasted 96 hours, or roughly until Thursday morning.
Alex Sundby is a senior editor for CBSNews.com
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