Titanic Submersible Controversy: Unrectified Oxygen Timing Raises Concerns

The Titanic submarine and its five crew members are missing. If the vessel is intact, it may have just a few hours of oxygen left, creating a race against time to find the sub.

That timeline is flexible. According to Memorial University’s hyperbaric medicine expert Dr. Ken LeDez, some passengers may survive longer than planned.

“It depends on how cold they get and how effective they are at conserving oxygen,” he added, adding that shivering uses oxygen while huddling conserves heat.

He stated oxygen depletion is gradual. “It’s not like switching off a light; it’s like climbing a mountain – as the temperature gets colder and metabolism falls [it depends] how fast you ascend that mountain,” he remarked.

Titanic Submersible Controversy

Dr. LeDez said it was a “disturbing conversation,” but that conditions within the submersible could vary from person to person.

On Wednesday, US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger said the search and rescue mission had many unknowns.

“We do not know the oxygen consumption rate per occupant on the sub,” Rear Adm Mauger told the BBC.

Dr. LeDez added that oxygen depletion is not the only risk on board.

The vessel may have lost electrical power, which controls oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

As oxygen levels drop, crew members breathe out more carbon dioxide, which might be catastrophic.

“As carbon dioxide levels rise, it becomes sedative, like an anesthetic gas, and you fall asleep.”

Hypercapnia—excess gas in the blood—can kill if untreated.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger dispatches “additional vessels” to find the lost submersible near the Titanic debris.

Former Royal Navy submarine skipper Ryan Ramsey says he saw no scrubbers in Titan’s interior videos online.

He calls that the biggest issue.

The team also faces hypothermia.

Capt Ramsey said the sub’s bottom water temperature would be 0C. If it loses electricity, it cannot generate heat.

Dr. LeDez suggested hypothermia “could be their friend.”

“There is a possibility if they cool down enough and lose consciousness, they could live through it – rescuers know this,” he added, adding that the body will instinctively adjust to survive.

However, cold, lack of oxygen, and carbon dioxide buildup in the sub reduce the crew’s capacity to communicate with the search and rescue mission, such as by beating on the hull regularly.

Dr. LeDez says that unconscious people can’t help themselves.

The crew may be able to save oxygen for a time, despite the Coast Guard’s warning.

Mr. Ramsey suggests slowing their breathing but realizes it may be difficult due to stress.

Dr. LeDez suggests spreading carbon dioxide-absorbing granules or reducing power use if they have electricity.

The Coast Guard reported “limited rations” for the crew.

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Despite these problems, Dr. LeDez advises against canceling the search-and-rescue operation too soon, stating they may survive even with low oxygen levels.

“If anybody can survive it, you know, it’s these individuals,” he says. “It just depends on them having power and light to be able to find things and make these controls, but absolutely, they could still be alive.”

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