- The missing Titanic tourist submersible was piloted with a Logitech gamepad controller.
- A CBS News segment from November showed details of the vessel, which contains “off-the-shelf” parts.
- Several dives were canceled due to weather and one group got lost for several hours, per the report.
The tourist submersible that went missing while carrying five people to the sunken Titanic on Sunday was designed to be piloted with a video-game controller and fitted with “off-the-shelf” components.
Details of the vessel, called the Titan, were reported in a November CBS TV segment that featured the submersible, its mother ship, and its crew.
The Titan’s main compartment has as much space as a minivan, according to the CBS correspondent David Pogue. Footage of the vessel showed that its interior could accommodate around five people sitting cross-legged, as well as several screen displays and some camera equipment.
“We only have one button, that’s it. It should be like an elevator, it shouldn’t take a lot of skill,” Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, which conducts deep-sea tours in the Titan submersible, told Pogue.
Some of the parts inside the submersible were “off-the-shelf components” and one of its interior lights was bought from the recreational-vehicle company CamperWorld, Rush said.
“We run the whole thing with this game controller,” Rush continued, showing Pogue a modified Logitech gamepad controller.
CBS also shot footage of a small space inside the Titan where one can relieve themselves in a bottle.
But Rush disagreed when Pogue said the Titan, which is supposed to carry passengers to depths of 13,000 feet, seemed to have a “MacGyver jerry-riggedness.”
Rush said his team worked with Boeing, NASA, and the University of Washington to create a vessel capable of withstanding deep-sea pressure.
“Everything else can fail,” Rush said. “Your thrusters can go, your lights can go, you’re still going to be safe.”
OceanGate’s website said the Titan combined “ground-breaking engineering and off-the-shelf technology” and that the latter “helped to streamline the construction” and made the submersible easier to operate.
The Titan, being a submersible and not a submarine, does not have enough power to leave port and return on its own, and instead relies on a mother ship to carry and retrieve it.
While the Titan is diving, it receives navigational instructions via text messages from a ship, which has crew members monitoring the submersible’s location, Pogue reported.
Pogue sailed with OceanGate’s crew for several days while waiting for a successful dive to the Titanic wreck. Several dives were canceled due to poor weather, and at least one was aborted because several floats became detached from the Titan, per CBS.
On the same tour, a group diving in the Titan also got lost for two and a half hours and couldn’t find the shipwreck, according to one of its passengers.
The submersible went missing on Sunday after losing contact with its mother ship less than two hours after submerging, per the US Coast Guard.
US and Canadian authorities have launched a search-and-rescue operation, deploying at least two aircraft, a submarine, and sonic buoys to scan the area. But officials say the search area is vast and remote, posing challenges to the rescue effort.
On Monday, the Coast Guard said the Titan likely had between 70 to 96 hours of oxygen left, given that the vessel usually made dives with around four days of emergency life support.
OceanGate typically operates eight-day tours to see the Titanic, and charges clients around $250,000 each. Multiple dives are conducted throughout the voyage.
OceanGate did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside regular business hours.