A submersible that takes tourists to view the wreck of the Titanic has gone missing in the Atlantic Ocean.
According to the BBC, the Boston Coastguard has a search and rescue operation underway for the missing vehicle, with the search centred off the coast of Newfoundland. OceanGate Expeditions, which organises deep sea expeditions, has confirmed it owns the missing submersible and people were on board.
“We are exploring and mobilising all options to bring the crew back safely,” it said on Monday. “Our entire focus is on the crew members in the submersible and their families.”
A number of companies take paying tourists, as well as experts, to visit the Titanic shipwreck in its position 3,800m below the surface of the ocean.
While the search continues, what do we know about the Titanic disaster in 1912?
When and where did the Titanic sink?
RMS Titanic set off from Southampton on the south coast of England on April 10, 1912, heading for the US. Four days later, the Titanic struck an iceberg near Newfoundland, Canada. The collision damaged the ship and resulted in water flooding in.
The lookouts did not spot the iceberg as the ship approached because it was nighttime. RMS Titanic had two lookouts who were located in the crow’s nest of the ship, right at the highest point near its front. But neither spotted the iceberg and the fatal collision occurred just before midnight on the fourth night.
The Titanic broke apart and sank to the bottom of the ocean.
The ship remains in its final resting place, 12,000 feet below sea level and over 350 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
How many people died on the Titanic?
There were 2,240 passengers and crew onboard when the Titanic set sail. When it sunk, 1,503 were killed: 815 passengers and 688 crew members. With a limited number of lifeboats, enough for only a third of passengers, many could not escape the ship.
As of today there are no living survivors of the Titanic left. The last living Titanic survivor passed away in 2009 aged 97, named Millvina Dean. She was known for being both the youngest passenger aboard and the last remaining survivor of the RMS Titanic.
Ms Dean was just nine weeks old when she boarded the ship. Her father felt its collision with the iceberg on the night, got up to see what was happening and then rushed back to warn his family who were sleeping. Millvina, her mother, and her brother were placed in a lifeboat but her father did not survive, and his body was never recovered.
The man at the helm of the ship Captain Edward Smith also perished with the Titanic.
Rumours swirled that Captain Smith was facing pressure from the owner of the Titanic, White Star Line, to keep up the ship’s speed. After the disaster, both the United States and the United Kingdom launched inquiries to determine whether or not the White Star Line was “liable for damages related to loss of life and property” because it was going too fast.
The British inquiry concluded that Captain Smith was not to blame, and said: “The evidence shows that he was not trying to make any record passage or indeed any exceptionally quick passage. He was not trying to please anybody, but was exercising his own discretion in the way he thought best. He made a mistake, a very grievous mistake, but one in which, in face of the practice and of past experience, negligence cannot be said to have had any part; and in the absence of negligence it is, in my opinion, impossible to fix Captain Smith with blame.”
The National Archives report how several members of the crew remembered Captain Smith encouraging his crew to act honorably in the last moments, help women and children, and how he urged them to “Be British!”.
How big was the Titanic?
Built in Belfast, at the time the Titanic was the largest object ever to move on the water. It had 16 watertight compartments designed to keep it afloat if damaged. This led to builders saying that the ship was “practically unsinkable”. It was 852.5 feet long and had seven decks.
It is no longer the biggest ship to be built. The largest in the world today is named the Wonder of the Seas and is 1,187 feet long and can hold 8,000 passengers.
When was the Titanic found?
Efforts to locate the sunken liner began almost immediately after the disaster but technical limitations, combined with the huge size of the search area, made it nigh on impossible to locate.
Seventy-three years after it sank to the ocean floor of the North Atlantic Sea, the remains of the Titanic were found in 1985. Explorers made up of a joint US-French team found the wreckage 400 miles east of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic.
Now, explorers can dive down and see the remains for themselves. An eight-day expedition departing from Canada sails 380 miles offshore to allow people to see the wreckage with their own eyes from a submarine. The descent takes two hours. Once at the Titanic site the submarine will explore the wreck and debris field for at least a couple of hours before returning to the surface.