Escorted to a Canadian Coast Guard base, the ship that launched the ill-fated Titan submersible returned from international waters to its home port of St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Saturday morning, where investigators boarded in search of answers.
For hours, a procession of about a dozen people, including investigators from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, boarded or disembarked the vessel, the Polar Prince, which docked at the guard headquarters. coast of the Atlantic.
Pulling out large crates of plastic equipment, the transportation safety investigators had to look for clues that could explain what went wrong aboard the Titan, a submersible that has taken wealthy passengers from around the world on a $250,000 tour of the wreck site. of the Titanic, 12,500 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
A search and rescue effort by international teams ended Thursday after debris was discovered on the ocean floor some 1,600 feet from the wreck of the Titanic, and US Coast Guard officials said the missing vessel had most likely imploded, killing the five people on board.
Because the Titan lacked propulsion, the Polar Prince, a Canadian vessel owned by the Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Service, had towed the Titan to its launch point and ferried the Titan’s passengers and others to their destination.
The Polar Prince remained close to the launch site until authorities finished the search and headed for Regional Coast Guard Headquarters. A floating platform that had been used to transport the Titan was brought in separately by a large orange ocean-going supply vessel.
More than an hour after the ships arrived, about a dozen people dressed in orange safety vests and white hard hats entered the ship.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada announced its investigation on Friday and arrived in St. John’s lugging large bags and hardside suitcases with his name or initials on them.
Kathy Fox, the chairwoman of the security council, said family members of the five people who were inside the submarine when it was destroyed were among the 41 people aboard the ship when it set sail on June 18. Another safety investigation body official said 17 of the people on board were from the vessel’s crew.
Family members were among those interviewed by the security council on Saturday. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it separately conducted interviews with passengers and crew on the vessel as part of a preliminary examination to determine whether a criminal investigation was warranted.
“We have received full cooperation,” Ms Fox told reporters. “It’s been a really good interaction so far.”
Ms Fox said the US Coast Guard would be tasked with recovering and examining the Titan’s remains now on the ocean floor, but that her agency would analyze any of her findings.
Polar Prince was built in 1959 as a light icebreaker and buoy tender for the Canadian Coast Guard, who named her Sir Humphrey Gilbert. After being decommissioned from government service in 2001, the vessel was renamed Gilbert 1 and has changed hands several times.
That whirlwind of owners included one who put it up for sale on eBay in 2005 with a starting bid of $1 million.
Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Service owners include Miawpukek Mi’kamawey Mawi’omi First Nation in Conne River, Newfoundland.
The Polar Prince sails from its home port of St. John’s on Sunday for an excursion to the Titanic wreck site. The ship had been docked several weeks earlier while she was preparing for the voyage, which was delayed due to inclement weather.
He returned on Saturday under sunny skies and warm weather.