Navy expert explains why submarine occupants should sleep to survive

A submarine with a crew of five has disappeared on its way to the wreck of the Titanic, some 550 kilometers southeast of the coast of Newfoundland. In addition to the captain and a Titanic expert, a British billionaire and a Pakistani management consultant and his son are said to be among the missing.

According to a consultant from the operating company “Ocean Gate Expeditions”, the oxygen supply should last until Thursday morning. However, a rescue will not be easy, because the destination of the expedition, the wreck of the Titanic, is at a depth of 3800 meters.

Is rescue still possible if the submarine is thousands of meters below the surface of the sea?

Expert of the German Navy gives an assessment

At the request of FOCUS online, an expert from the German Navy explained that it was difficult to make an accurate forecast, since the design, diving depth and type of operation of the privately operated submarine “Titan” differed greatly from a military submarine.

“Military submarines can dive between 400 and 600 meters, some Russian submarines are said to be up to 1000 meters. With the diving depth reached here, the submarine has to be very small in order to be able to withstand the enormous pressure,” says the expert, who wishes to remain anonymous.

The submarine started the expedition on Sunday morning and was accompanied by the Canadian escort ship “Polar Prince”. About an hour and 45 minutes after the submarine submerged, the crew of the escort ship is said to have lost contact with the “Titan”.

Search for lost submarine using sonar

The Coast Guard in Boston has already confirmed that at least two planes and a small submarine are currently searching for the missing crew. According to information from the German naval expert, there have already been international inquiries about possible support.

As a rule, such a search is primarily carried out using sonar technology: “The search is carried out using sonar from ships or with submerged unmanned vehicles that are equipped with sonar. Each vehicle or aircraft is assigned a specific area in the search area.

The marine expert also explains that there is the possibility of dropping sonar buoys from the air into the sea. The messages from the various devices come together in a situation center and are evaluated there.

U-boat was probably not driven to the surface

“If, contrary to expectations, the boat drifts on the surface, the chances of being found are realistic. However, this is contradicted by the fact that an emergency signal would have been sent in such a case.”

If the ship has actually sunk, the most important thing for the crew is to remain calm and to move as little as possible, if not to sleep. This is how the respiratory rate can be lowered the most and oxygen can be saved, according to the German Navy. But not only the slowly running out of oxygen could make the situation for the crew more dangerous by the hour.

“Another unknown factor is the atmosphere management in the boat. If the boat does not have a pollutant binding system for binding CO and CO2, the toxic limit for these gases in the breathing air will be reached before the oxygen runs out.”

In addition, the expert from the German Navy sees another danger: the falling temperature. “Should the boat be aground, the room temperature will drop quickly due to the low water temperature. As a result, the risk of hypothermia is imminent.”

German Navy makes bad prognosis: “U-boat must be lifted as a whole”

The naval expert explains that manned rescue submarines can only be used to a depth of 600 meters. If the boat is deeper, even an unmanned ship cannot necessarily help in this case. “The crew of the damaged submarine cannot be rescued. There is no way to disembark the boat through locks.”

Sending a rescue team down in a second submarine and getting the crew out of the ship would therefore be impossible, because the five-man crew cannot leave the submarine at such a depth. “If so, then the boat has to be lifted as a whole.”

According to the current state of knowledge of the German Navy, the submarine can neither be supplied with breathing air externally nor be lifted up once it is on the ground. In the event that the submarine cannot be lifted from the seabed in its entirety, “rescuing the crew is not possible.”

Jean Harris

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