A painless and instantaneous death: this is what we know of the “catastrophic implosion” of the submarine Titan

A painless and instantaneous death: this is what we know of the “catastrophic implosion” of the submarine Titan
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The Titan submarine bound for the Titanic, which disappeared on Sunday with five people on board, suffered, literally, a “catastrophic implosion”, as explained last night by US Coast Guard rear admiral John Mauger on CNN.

The tail cone and other debris from the missing submersible were found Thursday evening by a remotely operated vehicle approximately 1,600 feet off the bow of the Titanic, positioned approximately 13,000 feet down in the North Atlantic.

The Coast Guard said the debris found on the seabed was “consistent with the catastrophic leak of the pressure chamber.”

But what is a “catastrophic implosion”? The opposite of an explosionAn implosion is when an object suddenly and violently collapses in on itself. At those depths an incalculable amount of pressure weighs on the submarine and even the smallest structural defect could prove disastrous, as experts explain today. “That pressure is 350 times what we have on Earth. Under these conditions, any small leak could cause an immediate implosion capable of “coriandolising” the aircraftsaid Tom Maddox, CEO of Underwater Forensic Investigators, who previously participated in an expedition to the Titanic in 2005.

To illustrate: the pressure on the surface is measured as 1 atmosphere, which is approximately 1 kilo per square centimetre. As you dive deeper underwater, that pressure builds and builds. Deep in the wreck of the Titanic, the pressure is close to 476 atmospheres.

Would the crew understand what was going on? The answer is no. There was so much pressure on the submersible that the implosion would have occurred in a fraction of a millisecond. A “catastrophic implosion” occurs at a speed of 800 km per hour, Aileen Marty, a former naval officer and professor at Florida International University, told CNN. «Under these conditions, the human brain does not even have time to realize what is happening. Then the whole vehicle would have collapsed violently in on itself before the people inside could even know there was a problem,” Marty said. And she added: «Certainly they could not even realize that they were about to die. In the end, of the many ways we can pass this one is painless.” When asked about the likelihood of recovering Titan crew members, the US Coast Guard’s Mauger said he “doesn’t have an answer at the moment, but they will continue the search. Down there on the seabed, the environment is incredibly unforgiving: shredded or even pulverized bodies can easily become fish food.

The tail cone and other debris from the submersible were found by a remotely operated vehicle approximately 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic, deep in the North Atlantic and approximately 900 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. According to Paul Hankins, Director of Lifeboat Operations and Ocean Engineering for the US Navy, the remote-controlled vehicle found “five different major pieces of debris” from the Titan submersible. “The debris was consistent with the pressure chamber leak and subsequent, catastrophic implosion,” she said.

The US Navy detected noises that could be traced back to an implosion as early as Sunday and relayed that information to commanders leading the search. But the sound was considered not defined enough to proceed.

“The remote-controlled vehicles will now remain on the scene and continue to gather intelligence. It will take time to determine a specific timeline of events in the “incredibly complex” case of the Titan’s failure, Mauger said.

 
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