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Vice Admiral & Deep Ocean Researcher Respond to Missing Submersible
If you are looking for experts to help explain and discuss the current story of the missing Titan submersible that was diving around the wreckage of the Titanic, please see two Syracuse University experts with extensive knowledge of deep ocean exploration.
Retired Vice Admiral Robert Murrett is a professor of practice at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and deputy director of the Institute for Security Policy and Law. He writes: “The latest incident with the missing submersible near the Titanic datum reminds us of the significant hazards attendant to operating in dangerous environments. In spite of advances in technology, extreme ocean depths, and for that matter outer space, are hazardous and unforgiving places. We certainly hold out hope for a rescue of the personnel aboard the Titan submersible, and at the same time, need to acknowledge the dangers that are part of highly adventurous “recreational” missions.”
Jeff Karson, Professor Emeritus of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Syracuse University, researches volcanoes and tectonics, and is the co-author of the book “Discovering the Deep: A Photographic Atlas of the Seafloor and Ocean Crust.” He has conducted numerous trips to the ocean floor in submersibles.
Karson said there are multiple issues with the location and rescue of the submersible. “This is a needle in a haystack situation. Even if they know it is around the wreckage of the Titanic, the debris down there is spread out over a kilometer and with debris as big as the submarine. So to the sonar, the sub is another lump down there.”
He points out that the sound, believed to be from the submersible, is a good sign, but now it is a case of triangulating the sound and pinpointing where it is. But he cautions that there are a lot of sounds in the ocean, such as whale songs, large shipping vessels or even other submarines, and sound can travel very far.
Karson offers insight one how the sub can be rescued. He points out that submersibles dive to extreme depths with weights attached to them. When the vessel is ready to surface, the weights are discharged, and it naturally rises to the surface. “Rescuers can use a remotely operated, sophisticated robot on a fiber optic cable. The robot can assist with freeing the submersible,” he said.
He also cautions that the vessel is too deep for human divers to get to it. The conditions of deep ocean will be challenging. “I am sure it is horrible down there. The temperature is just above freezing. It is like being in a snow cave and hypothermia is a real danger.”