Missing Titanic sub running out of oxygen, fanning wild conspiracy theories on Internet

Debodinna Chakraborty
Debodinna ChakrabortyJun 22, 2023 | 14:03

Missing Titanic sub running out of oxygen, fanning wild conspiracy theories on Internet

Search and rescue operation for Titan still goes on, (photo: Twitter/@covertshores)

Ever since the OceanGate tourist submersible Titan went missing on June 18, it has initiated a whole new wave of theories of what might have actually happened to the vessel and the passengers onboard.


The OceanGate-owned submersible that went missing on Sunday, was carrying four high-profile individuals and the OceanGate CEO as it embarked on a journey 12,500 ft beneath the Atlantic Ocean’s surface, where the Titanic shipwreck lies.


The vessel lost contact with its mothership, the Polar Prince, 1 hour and 45 minutes after its dive and has been missing ever since.

The most concerning factor is the limited supply of oxygen the submersible holds, which is making the search and rescue teams race against time. According to OceanGate, the vessel carries an oxygen worth 96 hours. According to that, the diving time of TItan, which was at 1200 GMT (5:30 pm IST) on June 18, theorietically states that the Titan's oxygen supply should last till 1200 GMT (5:30 pm IST) of June 22. With three hours left of oxygen, the search and rescue teams walk into the final lap of hope. 

Along with that, the vessel holds a maximum passenger capacity of five. 

The fact that this journey cost each passenger $250,000, or Rs 2 crore, has created a lot of buzz all over the Internet. 

Was the sub ever safe?

The factor that makes this unfortunate scenario more disturbing, is the number of safety warnings which were completely ignored by the managing body of the submersible. 

The construction of the Titan was 'potentially catastrophic'. The vessel is made of titanium and filament-wound carbon fiber, which is bolted from the outside, and on top of all that, is the fact that the vessel is actually operated via a video-game controller. 


The many theories 

On the one hand, while several netizens have prayed for the quick and safe rescue of the passengers onboard the submersible; on the other, several users as well as experts have shared detailed theories regarding what might have been the fate of the missing submersible. 

Catastrophic crumble 

So far, the theory that states the probable worst case scenario was by Australian robotics professor Stefan B Williams, where he talked about a probable rupture in the submersible’s outer shell, which might have caused an implosion enough to kill everyone onboard. 

Theories state that Titan could've had an implosion mid-way. (photo: Ocean Gate)

The reason for that being the fact that the Titanic wreck lies 3,800 m below sea level, where the water pressure is approximately 376 times greater than what's exerted by the Earth’s atmosphere; here on land. With the loose construction of the submersible, surviving a pressure difference till that extent is close to impossible.

All a facade

Perhaps one of the wildest conspiracy theories related to the missing submersible; this was shared on NFL veteran Pat McAfee’s talk show, The  Pat McAfee Show on YouTube.

On the show’s latest episode, McAfee brought up a theory which said that the people onboard might have organised this entire incident to fake their deaths and as a result get exemption from paying taxes.


The theory, which might be considered a bit harsh given the current circumstances, has certainly got the attention of the netizens, who have started to explore more depths of this theory on their own. #TaxTheRich, anyone?

Trapped underwater

Another theory that has emerged is the possibility of the submersible getting stuck on one of the pieces of the Titanic wreckage, which stretches out to a wide area on the ocean floor. 

Certain theories say that Titan might be trapped underwater at the wreckage site. (photo: Ocean Gate)

The president and founder of the renowned dive training company Lifeguard Systems, Butch Hendrick, spoke to CBS News about the possibilities of the vessel getting entangled within the wreckage of the Titanic, which might have somehow broken the Titan’s communication antenna.

"There are parts of [the Titanic] all over the place. It’s dangerous." 
- Butch Hendrick, President and Founder of Lifeguard Systems

Surfaced but lost

One comparatively less morbid theory on the Internet states that the Titan has actually re-surfaced, but is now floating on the Atlantic Ocean and waiting to be spotted and rescued.

Titan lost all contact with its mothership 1 hour 45 minutes post its dive. (photo:OceanGate)

The theory further adds that this might have happened due to the fact that Titan lost all forms of communications with its mothership, and the fact that it has no GPS or any other guidance system to navigate. Instead, it depends on text messages from the mothership to guide it. 

The Titan uses a ballast to stay submerged below water, and that same ballast can be ejected by the ones onboard by rocking the ship or by using a pneumatic pump. Moreover, the lines which secure the ballast are designed to fall apart by themselves 24 hours after the dive. 

Not Titan’s first voyage 

Although the entire scenario of the Titanic-bound submersible going missing is very sudden and unfortunate, this wasn’t Titan’s first trip to the wreck site. 

  • The submersible had made previous expeditions down the depths of the ocean, going all the way back to 2018.
  • However, some technical or regulatory issue had prevented it making it all the way to the Titanic wreck site.
  • It wasn't till 2021 that it made its first trip to its advertised destination.
  • Although these dives were successfully carried out, they encountered their own share of problems. 

As per the owner company OceanGate, the missing Titan is designed to go to depths over 13,000 feet or 4,000 metres below the surface of the ocean. 

Last year, CBS reporter David Pogue went onboard the Titan, on which he travelled down to the Titanic wreck site, for a news story that aired in November.

During the trip, he also interviewed OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who is now among the five missing passengers on the missing submersible.

Here's the video that aired on CBS last year:



Last updated: June 22, 2023 | 14:38
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