Four days after going missing, the company operating the Titanic research submersible addressed the fate of its passengers.
OceanGate said in a June 22 statement that they "now believe" that all five people on board—company CEO Stockton Rush as well as passengers Hamish Harding, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman Dawood—"have sadly been lost."
"These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world's oceans," the statement continued. "Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time. We grieve the loss of life and joy they brought to everyone they knew."
OceanGate reflected on the challenging time for all involved in the mission and rescue efforts.
"This is an extremely sad time for our dedicated employees who are exhausted and grieving deeply over this loss," the company said. "The entire OceanGate family is deeply grateful for the countless men and women from multiple organizations of the international community who expedited wide-ranging resources and have worked so very hard on this mission. We appreciate their commitment to finding these five explorers, and their days and nights of tireless work in support of our crew and their families."
The company concluded its statement by asking for privacy for the families impacted by the tragedy.
In a press conference later in the day, officials confirmed that the debris was from an external part of the submersible, which they said was found about a third of a mile away from the 1912 ship wreckage.
"This morning an R.O.V. from the vessel Horizon Arctic discovered the tailbone of the Titan submersible," First Coast Guard District commander Rear Adm. John Mauger said, "approximately 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic on the sea floor."
The vehicle discovered five major pieces of debris, which he said is "consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber." The admiral added, "Upon this determination we immediately notified the families."
A senior U.S. Navy official told NBC News June 22 that an analysis found an acoustic anomaly that was "consistent with an implosion or explosion in the general vicinity" of where the Titan was diving, though the information was not definitive.
Officials said at the press conference that it's too early to determine the timing of any potential incident. They've had sonar buoys in the water for the past 72 hours nearly continuously, but did not detect any catastrophic events in that time period.
Authorities said they will continue to investigate the field of debris as they hope the families start to gain some closure.
The submersible Titan—a 21-foot vessel—as well as its five-person crew, disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean on June 18 just over an hour into their OceanGate Expeditions tour while en route to the RMS Titanic wreckage.
Following Titan's disappearance, a massive search-and-rescue mission was launched to find the passengers onboard.
Prior to the discovery of the debris, Coast Guard officials estimated that Titan's 96-hour oxygen supply was expected to run out in the morning of June 22.
To learn more about all of the passengers onboard the Titan, keep reading...
This story was last updated on June 22, 2023 at 3:30 p.m. PT with additional details.