German adventurer Arthur Loibl describes ‘extreme’ Titanic tourist expedition
A German adventurer who travelled on the Titanic tourist sub now missing for four days has described the expedition as a “suicide mission”.
Arthur Loibl embarked on the journey to the wreckage in August 2021 alongside Paul-Henry Nargeolet and Stockton Rush, two of the five people currently aboard the missing Titan vessel.
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The 63-year-old had already trekked to both the North and South Poles, but described the Titanic expedition as “the most extreme”.
“It was a suicide mission back then,” he told German newspaper Bild.
He described a number of issues he encountered during the mission, including a broken stabilisation tube which was “reattached with zip ties”.
“The first submarine didn’t work, then a dive at 1600m had to be abandoned,” Loibl said.
“My mission was the fifth, but we also went into the water five hours late due to electrical problems.”
Loibl believes the five passengers aboard the Titan may have also faced similar electrical issues.
Given the confined quarters of the submersible, Loibl said it “must be hell” for the five passengers trapped inside.
“You need strong nerves, you mustn’t be claustrophobic, and you have to be able to sit cross-legged for 10 hours,” he said.
“It must be hell down there. There’s only 2.5 metres of space, it’s four degrees, there’s no chair, no toilet.
“I feel bad, I’m nervous, I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. I was incredibly lucky back then.”
Rescuers searching for the submersible are now concentrating their efforts on a remote area of the North Atlantic where a series of undersea noises have been detected.
The submersible had 96 hours of air, according to the company’s specifications, which the US Coast Guard says now gives them less than 24 hours of air remaining.
The Coast Guard said remotely operated vehicle (ROV) searches were deployed in the area where Canadian aircraft recorded the noises using sonar buoys on Tuesday and Wednesday.
US coast guard captain Jamie Frederick said analysis of the noises has been “inconclusive”.
“We don’t know what they are, to be frank with you,” he said.
“We’re searching in the area where the noises were detected.”
Even if the submersible is located, retrieving it presents huge logistical challenges given the extreme conditions kilometres below the surface.
Teams from the United States, Canada and France have searched more than 25,900sqkm of open sea, roughly the size of Lebanon.
The 6.7m submersible Titan, operated by US-based OceanGate Expeditions, began its descent at 8am on Sunday.
It lost contact with its parent surface vessel during what should have been a two-hour dive to the Titanic.
Those aboard the submersible, a tourist adventure that costs $US250,000 ($A367,000) per person, include British billionaire and adventurer Hamish Harding, 58, and Pakistani-born businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his 19-year-old son Suleman, who are both British citizens.
French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, and Stockton Rush, founder and chief executive of OceanGate Expeditions, were also reported to be on board.
– With Reuters
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