Team behind deep sea robot had hoped for Titan rescue

Edward Cassano speaks during a news conference on the Titan submersible Carolyn Thompson/AP)
Edward Cassano speaks during a news conference on the Titan submersible Carolyn Thompson/AP)

The team behind the deep sea robot which eventually helped locate wreckage from the Titan submersible – following a fatal implosion which killed five people – had been hoping they were on a rescue mission, a company executive has said.

British adventurer Hamish Harding and father and son Shahzada and Suleman Dawood were killed on board the deep-sea vessel, alongside OceanGate Expeditions’ chief executive Stockton Rush and French national Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

Edward Cassano, chief executive of Pelagic Research Services, said his crew were “laser-focused on rescue” when they became part of  massive search operation earlier this month in the mid-Atlantic after a tourist submarine went missing during a dive to the wreck of the Titanic.

Titanic Tourist Sub
Edward Cassano speaks during a news conference (Carolyn Thompson/AP)

Mr Cassano told reporters at a press conference in New York: “We were focused on the job at hand – that’s what we do and that is what all of these people do. We were laser-focused on rescue.”

Officials announced OceanGate Expeditions’ submersible suffered a “catastrophic implosion” after a piece of the vessel was discovered near the bow of the Titanic. The wreckage was then recovered from the ocean floor.

The Odysseus 6K, a remote-operated vehicle from Pelagic Research Services, made the discovery and helped in the recovery effort.

The underwater robot helped in the initial search for the Titan and continued to map and document the area as it searched for debris.

Mr Cassano said his team had been among a fleet of ships when they arrived at site, and they soon became “the primary identified asset to affect rescue”.

He said: “Our plan of rescue was to, immediately upon finding Titan, latch on to her as quickly as possible and begin recovery.

“There were protocols in the event of viability and non-viability. It was wild.

“We were moving assets under the integration and coordination of incident command and the team on Deep Energy – but because we were primary, they were asking us to make the decisions about how the various assets would move.

“When we did discover the wreck of the Titan, different sets of protocols went through.”

Titanic Tourist Sub
Debris from the Titan submersible, recovered from the ocean floor near the wreck of the Titanic (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press via AP)

Pieces from the sub were unloaded in St John’s, Canada, on Wednesday.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has said it is looking into the five deaths.

Safety investigators from the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada made inquiries on Titan’s main support ship, the Polar Prince, after it docked in St John’s harbour.

The Titan submersible lost contact with tour operator OceanGate Expeditions an hour and 45 minutes into the two-hour descent to the wreckage, with the vessel reported missing eight hours after communication was lost.