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Judge clears the way for opening up the Titanic

Titanic
The Titanic sank during its maiden voyage in 1912. (Acme Newspictures via Library of Congress)

A federal judge says RMS Titanic Inc. can go forward with its plan to cut into the Titanic shipwreck and try retrieving the Marconi wireless telegraph machine that sent out distress calls 108 years ago.

In an order issued Monday in Norfolk, Va., District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith said RMS Titanic, the court-designated salvage firm for the Titanic, made its case that the radio had enough historic value to justify sending a specially equipped robot into the wreck. The remotely operated submersible would be equipped with tools to cut through the deckhouse if necessary.

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OceanGate picks its supplier for carbon fiber

Titan submersible
OceanGate’s Titan submersible made use of carbon composite for its pressurized hull, and the company’s future submersibles will up the ante when it comes to carbon fiber. (OceanGate Photo)

Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate says Toray Composite Materials America is its preferred provider for the carbon fiber material that will be used in the company’s next-generation submersibles.

Toray CMA is the world’s largest supplier of carbon fiber and the leader in providing fibers for numerous aircraft, including the Boeing 777 and 787. The company’s U.S. head office is in Tacoma, Wash.

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush said in a statement that Toray CMA “will play a critical role as we develop the next generation of manned submersible, to usher in a new era of exploration using aerospace-quality composites.”

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OceanGate will go deeper with its next subs

OceanGate Titan sub
OceanGate’s Titan submersible is designed to withstand pressures at Titanic depths. (OceanGate Photo)

Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate says it’ll build not just one, but two deep-sea submersibles capable of taking crews as far down as 6,000 meters (3.7 miles) beneath the ocean surface, into a zone of perpetual darkness.

The vessels will take advantage of the same carbon-fiber and titanium design that was pioneered for OceanGate’s Titan submersible, which was built for exploration of the Titanic shipwreck site, nearly 4,000 meters (2.4 miles) down.

Interest in the Titanic trips, which are due to begin next summer, is one of the factors behind the planned expansion of OceanGate’s fleet.

“Increasing demand for Titanic missions, deep-sea research and environmental supervision of deep-sea mining have further reinforced the business case for adding to our dive capacity,” OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush said Tuesday in a news release.

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Researchers watch Titanic shipwreck crumble

Titanic wreck
The prow of the Titanic wreck is quickly getting rustier, scientists say. (Atlantic Productions Photo)

Scientists and enthusiasts are due to visit the wreck of the Titanic next summer in a submersible built by Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate – but what will they see?

Based on a newly completed expedition, they’ll see a hulk that’s decomposing almost before their eyes.

That’s the word from members of a deep-ocean exploration team who visited the site, nearly 13,000 feet beneath the surface, during a 10-day expedition in late July and early August.

Team leaders included Caladan Oceanic explorer/pilot Victor Vescovo, Titanic historian Parks Stephenson and Rob McCallum of EYOS Expeditions. With the aid of a technical crew from Triton Submarines, they surveyed the wreck during a series of five dives in the DSSV Limiting Factor, a two-person Triton 36,000/2 submersible.

The exploration team captured 4K video footage of the wreck using cameras that were specially adapted for the bone-chilling, high-pressure environment of the deep. The imagery will be used in a forthcoming documentary film by Atlantic Productions – and transformed into photorealistic 3-D models of the Titanic site for augmented-reality and virtual-reality platforms.

Stephenson said he was shocked to see how the wreck has deteriorated. Salt corrosion, metal-eating bacteria and deep currents are contributing to the decay.

“The most shocking area of deterioration was the starboard side of the officer’s quarters, where the captain’s quarters were,” he said in a news release. “The captain’s bathtub is a favorite image among the Titanic enthusiasts, and that’s now gone. That whole deck house on that side is collapsing, taking with it the staterooms, and the deterioration is going to continue advancing.”

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OceanGate puts off this year’s Titanic dives

OceanGate Titan sub
OceanGate’s Titan submersible is designed to withstand Titanic pressures. (OceanGate Photo)

Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate has had to postpone this summer’s deep-sea dives to the Titanic shipwreck, just as they were about to start, due to complications relating to the expedition’s intended mothership.

The complications have to do with the status of the Norwegian-flagged MV Havila Harmony under Canadian maritime law, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush told GeekWire today. The ship’s operators at Reach Subsea feared that the ship might be impounded if the expedition went forward as planned, Rush said.

Rush said that the issue cropped up on June 7, and that the resulting complications couldn’t be resolved in time to do this year’s Titanic Survey Expedition. The first departure from St. John’s, Newfoundland, had been scheduled for June 28.

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OceanGate sets titanic record with 4-person dive

OceanGate Titan crew
The crew of OceanGate’s Titan submersible gets set for a dive of Titanic proportions. From left are Karl Stanley, Petros Mathioudakis, pilot Stockton Rush and Joel Perry. (OceanGate Photo)

OceanGate set a deep-diving record last week when a crew of four rode inside the Everett, Wash.-based company’s Titan submersible to the Titanic-level depth of 3,760 meters (12,336 feet) in the Bahamas.

The April 17 voyage, which served as a test run for this summer’s trips to the wreck of the Titanic, marked the first time a non-military submersible carried more than three people to that depth, OceanGate said.

“This dive was another important step toward deep-sea exploration to more people and places,” OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who served as Titan’s chief pilot for the trip, said today in a news release. “We are developing technologies and designing submersibles and infrastructure that is making underwater exploration more accessible than ever before.”

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OceanGate gears up for Titanic dive rehearsals

OceanGate Titan sub
OceanGate’s Titan submersible is designed to withstand pressures at Titanic depths. (OceanGate Photo)

Everett, Wash.-based OceanGate is heading back down to the Bahamas next week to practice deep-sea dives of Titanic proportions with its next-generation Titan submersible — and this time, team members are bringing along paying customers.

About 10 mission specialists wll accompany OceanGate’s team for rehearsals that will involve sending Titan down to depths of nearly 4,000 meters (13,000 feet). That’s as far down as the famous wreck of the Titanic lies in the North Atlantic.

This month’s rehearsal follows up on a series of deep dives done by OceanGate last year. The plan doesn’t call for mission specialists to climb into the submersible this time around, OceanGate marketing manager Dana Hall told GeekWire. Instead, they’ll be on the R/V Angari, the expedition’s tracking and communications ship.

The goal is to familiarize at least some of OceanGate’s customers with the duties they’ll be performing when Titan and its support vessels head up to Newfoundland for 10-day voyages to the Titanic site that are due to start in June.

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OceanGate sub hits Titanic depth of 4,000 meters

Titan submersible
The Titan submersible rests on its underwater platform. (OceanGate Photo)

OceanGate successfully lowered its Titan submersible to a depth of 4,000 meters in waters off the coast of the Bahamas, during a series of uncrewed dives aimed at testing the integrity of the craft’s carbon-fiber hull. The Everett, Wash.-based team lowered the sub on a monofilament line on June 25 while sensors measured the strain on the hull. OceanGate CEO and chief pilot Stockton Rush will conduct solo dives later this summer in preparation for five-person dives to the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic next June. The 4,000-meter milestone is significant because that’s how deep the Titanic is.

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OceanGate reschedules Titanic sub trips for 2019

Titan sub
OceanGate’s Titan submersible is undergoing testing in the Bahamas. (OceanGate Photo via Twitter)

OceanGate is putting its underwater trips to the Titanic shipwreck on hold for a year, due to difficulties encountered during deep-water testing of its submersible in the Bahamas.

The Titan sub’s first trips to the world’s most famous shipwreck had been set to start next month in the North Atlantic. This week, team leaders at the Everett, Wash.-based venture decided they couldn’t make the schedule.

“While we are disappointed by the need to reschedule the expedition, we are not willing to shortcut the testing process due to a condensed timeline,” OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush said today in a news release. “We are 100 percent committed to safety, and want to fully test the sub and validate all operational and emergency procedures before launching any expedition.”

Making the decision now gives advance notice for OceanGate’s clients, crew members, partners and affiliates to make other plans for the summer, Rush said.

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Titanic sub rises to the next level of testing

Titan submersible
OceanGate’s Titan submersible heads out from the marina at Everett, Wash., for its final test dive in Puget Sound. The sub is due to begin a journey to the Bahamas this week. (OceanGate Photo)

OceanGate has finished putting its Titan submersible through its first round of shallow-water tests in Puget Sound, and is packing it up for deep-water tests in the Bahamas. Then it’s off to the Titanic.

The OceanGate team custom-designed the 22-foot-long craft to take up to five people to a depth of 13,000 feet, with the objective of studying one of the world’s most famous shipwrecks starting in June.

Construction was completed in January, and for the past several weeks, the company has been taking Titan out from its homebase marina in Everett, Wash., for dives of up to 100 feet.

“It’s going well,” said Stockton Rush, OceanGate’s CEO and Titan’s chief test pilot.

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