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Titanic sub disaster: Banging sound that gave hope of finding crew alive aired for first time

Eerie banging sounds that briefly gave rescue teams hope of saving the Titan submersible’s crew and passengers have been released.

The Titan was destroyed a few hours into a dive to the Titanic shipwreck on 18 June, claiming the lives of OceanGate Expeditions CEO Stockton Rush, father and son Shahzada and Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

During a frantic and ultimately futile multi-day search for survivors, the US Coast Guard revealed that sonar devices had detected tapping sounds coming from the vast search zone in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The Royal Canadian Air Force, which led the search and rescue operation, has now released audio of the rhythmic tapping sounds to the makers of a new documentary Minute by Minute: The Titan Sub Disaster.

The documentary, which will screen on Channel5 in the UK on 6 and 7 March, shows the rescuers as they first hear the banging sounds ringing out in regular 30-minute intervals.

“The symmetry between those knockings is very unusual,” former Navy submarine Captain Ryan Ramsey says in the documentary.

“It’s rhythmic, it’s like somebody is making that sound, and the fact that it is repeated is really unusual.”

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush later came under scrutiny for lax safety standards on the Titan (OceanGate)
OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush later came under scrutiny for lax safety standards on the Titan (OceanGate)

The taps were first detected at around 11.30pm on 20 June. As multinational search and rescue teams descended on the Titanic wreck, speculation mounted that the sounds could be survivors tapping on the walls of the Titan to alert them.

US Coast Guard officials said the noises were “inconclusive”, and tried to temper expectations they were a sign of life.

Hopes of finding survivors ended on 28 June, when the US Coast Guard revealed that “presumed human remains” had been recovered from the sea floor near the debris.

Audio of banging noises that briefly gave hope of finding survivors of the Titan submersible has been released (The Titan Sub Disaster- Minute By Minute)
Audio of banging noises that briefly gave hope of finding survivors of the Titan submersible has been released (The Titan Sub Disaster- Minute By Minute)

It later determined that the sub’s carbon fibre hull had imploded less than two hours after it departed support ship the Polar Prince.

Stockton Rush, the OceanGate CEO who perished on the Titan, was later found to have ignored safety warnings from industry experts, passengers and former employees.

Weeks after the disaster, it emerged that a former OceanGate director of marine operations had warned in 2018 that shortcuts in the company’s design would end up having deadly consequences.

David Lochridge alleged in a wrongful termination lawsuit that he identified numerous issues during a quality inspection process and was “met with hostility and denial of access” to necessary documents.