The tourist submersible used to explore the Titanic wreckage now has less than 20 hours of oxygen left after it went missing on Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday.
This follows reports that sonar buoys had detected what was described as “banging” noises underwater during search efforts, though officials have said that the source of the noise is unknown.
Coast Guard officials said that remote-operated underwater vehicles had been deployed near the location where the sounds were heard but that they yielded “negative” results.
Both the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have deployed aircraft, ships, and remote-operated sub-surface research vessels to survey the area around the wreckage site, which has a surface area two times larger than Connecticut and extends 2.4 miles down to the ocean floor.
But strong winds and large waves are delaying search and rescue operations for the Titan vessel, owned by the company OceanGate.
Five people are aboard the submersible. They are UK billionaire and aviator Hamish Harding, British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, French explorer and leading expert on the Titanic wreck, Paul-Henry Nargeolet, and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush.
OceanGate is now under scrutiny after it was revealed that over three dozen industry leaders, deep-sea explorers, and oceanographers had warned OceanGate about the safety risks of the Titan vessel’s “experimental” design that could lead to potentially ”catastrophic" problems.
At least two previous OceanGate employees also raised concerns about Titan’s safety, CNN reported. One of those employees refused to conduct manned tests of the early design, which got him fired and subsequently sued by OceanGate for disclosing company information, according to court documents obtained by The New Republic.
Last year, CBS reporter David Pogue took a dive on the Titan, revealing that the Titan could only communicate with the mothership using text messaging, and that Rush had said at the time that he would consider adding an emergency beacon after one of the vessels got lost for five hours.