Washington-based company OceanGate has taken its submersible, Titan, to the Titanic three times in total, with annual expeditions from 2021 to 2023.

Also read | Who is Chris Brown? Hamish Harding’s friend asked OceanGate for refund after pulling out of Titanic submersible tour

In a quest to explore the historic wreckage of the Titanic, OceanGate’s submersible, Titan, has made a total of three journeys to the iconic ship. The Washington-based company, specializing in crewed submersibles for industry, research, and exploration, embarked on annual expeditions to the Titanic from 2021 to 2023.

Prior to launching these ambitious expeditions, OceanGate underwent an extensive series of over 50 test dives, some of which reached depths equivalent to that of the Titanic. These trials allowed the company to refine its operations and ensure the safety and success of future missions.

The Titan submersible, designed to accommodate five individuals, was specifically crafted to navigate the depths of the ocean, with a maximum capability of reaching 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). This advanced vessel offers a range of applications, including research, film and media production, as well as deep-sea testing of hardware and software.

The annual Titanic expeditions organized by OceanGate offered a unique opportunity for adventurous tourists to witness the awe-inspiring wreck. For a hefty price tag of $250,000, participants could embark on an unforgettable eight-day excursion, immersing themselves in the haunting remnants of the Titanic.

Also read | Who are Marc Hagle, Sharon Hagle? Florida couple sued OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush months before Titanic submersible went missing

However, the latest expedition took a disastrous turn when the Titan submersible lost contact during its dive. On June 18, the vessel set off with three paying tourists and two crew members on board, including OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush and pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet. Approximately one hour and 45 minutes into the dive, communication with the surface ship was abruptly severed, prompting a large-scale search operation in the Atlantic.

Tragically, this wasn’t the first time the Titan had encountered communication issues. A similar incident occurred during the 2022 Titanic expedition, leaving CBS journalist David Pogue, Rush, and Nargeolet without contact for a staggering three hours. Eventually, communication was reestablished, and the mission was abandoned.

As the search for the missing submersible and its occupants intensifies, questions arise regarding the safety and reliability of these deep-sea explorations. OceanGate’s focus on innovation and the utilization of modern materials aims to make its submersibles lighter and more cost-efficient. Additionally, the Real Time Hull Health Monitoring (RTM) system implemented on the Titan provides an extra layer of safety, continuously assessing the integrity of the vessel’s hull throughout each dive.

The current rescue operation serves as a sobering reminder of the risks associated with venturing into the depths of the ocean. It raises important considerations regarding the balance between exploration, safety, and the preservation of historic sites. As authorities continue their efforts, the future of OceanGate’s Titanic expeditions remains uncertain, with a renewed emphasis on ensuring the well-being of those involved in these daring ventures.