A top secret US Navy system reportedly picked up an “anomaly” in the hours after the Titan submersible went missing on Sunday.
The system, which monitors underwater acoustics, is designed to look out for enemy submarines heading towards the United States. But it is likely to have spotted the implosion from the missing OceanGate Explorations vessel, officials have said.
Titan lost contact with its mothership at around 9:45am on Sunday – one hour and 45 minutes into its descent. It was carrying four passengers and a pilot at the time.
And while hopes of finding the submersible were raised on Thursday when a Canadian aircraft detected “banging sounds” where it went missing, they were soon dashed as the US Coast Guard revealed a debris field had been found in the area, reports the Mirror.
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A senior US Navy official has now told The Wall Street Journal: “The US Navy conducted an analysis of acoustic data and detected an anomaly consistent with an implosion or explosion in the general vicinity of where the Titan submersible was operating when communications were lost.
“While not definitive, this information was immediately shared with the Incident Commander to assist with the ongoing search and rescue mission.”
The official explained the US Navy had reported the sound to the Coast Guard.
Discussing the debris find at the press conference earlier, undersea expert Paul Hankin said: “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, which was outside of the pressure hull. We then found a large debris field, within that debris field we found the front-end bell of the pressure hull.
“That was the first indication that there was a catastrophic event.
“Shortly thereafter we found a second smaller debris field. Within that debris field we found the other end of the pressure hull. We continue to map out the debris field, and as the admiral said, we will do the best we can to fully map out what’s down there.”
The five victims consisted of three British citizens including billionaire Hamish Harding. Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood were also onboard along with French national and renowned diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet.
The fifth member of the team was OceanGate CEO and founder Stockton Rush, a former investment banker with an aerospace degree.