We continue to pray for the rescue of the people trapped on the missing Oceangate Titan sub, but at this point, that would likely require a miracle. As of this writing, the sub still hasn’t been found, and it’s projected to run out of breathable air by this morning. And due to the extreme water pressure, it couldn’t be raised quickly if it were found. Here is Fox News’ continually-updated page of the latest news.
Many people are asking how this happened and why the obvious risks didn’t raise more red flags. For an expert opinion, our writer Laura Ainsworth turned to her good friend, singer/songwriter Bill Sanner.
Bill was in the US Navy submarine corps in the 1970s and served all over the world, often undersea for weeks at a time. His story of those years was recounted in his memoir, “The Subpar Adventures of Snakebite and Stonefinger,” co-written with Laura (https://www.amazon.com/Sub-Par-Adventures-Snakebite-Stonefinger/dp/1517655420/)
Here is what Bill had to say…
Questions I have about the "tourist" submarine debacle.
By Bill Sanner
I served aboard a US Navy submarine for 5.5 years in the mid-1970s. Having listened to news reports about the submarine "Titan," I have questions. I also have some answers based on training and experience.
Q. How deep is deep and what difference does that make?
A. The Atlantic Ocean is an extremely deep body of water. The reason that matters is "water pressure," pure and simple. The deepest that my sub could dive safely was around 1200 feet. There was a depth we referred to as "crush depth," which we stayed away from. Even at our deepest, the water pressure compressed our boat substantially. My understanding is that this sub endeavored to dive two miles deep. I don't know the calculated water pressure at two miles deep, but I do know that two miles deep water pressure is twice that of one mile deep. And modern subs don't have the ability to go even one third of that depth without catastrophe.
Q. How do subs surface?
A. All submarines have large tanks on their exterior called ballast tanks. When a sub submerges, those tanks are flooded by allowing the air in the tanks to escape through large valves. Once the tanks are fully flooded, the submarine is buoyancy neutral. At this point the control surfaces control the sub. When the sub desires to surface, very high pressure compressed air is blown into the ballast tanks to push the water out as much as it can. Even at my sub's relatively shallow depth, it could only push out a small amount of water because of the water pressure. As the air rises in the water, the air expands because of the reduced water pressure. Once the pressure hull of the sub is compromised, the sub is doomed.
Also, no windows on a sub. If there were even one window, it would have to be attached to the pressure hull. 2 miles down? I don't think so.
Q. Why couldn't the small sub communicate with their master ship?
A. I have no idea. That depends on the design of their comm systems.
Q. Do subs have emergency beacons?
A. US Navy subs do, but they only operate effectively above a certain depth. The ocean is not just a deep tank of water. It is an amazing ecosystem totally different from a land ecosystem. The ocean has barriers to sound called thermals, created by varying temperatures of the water at various depths. Our subs use these thermals to hide in the ocean. I don't know how many thermal layers exist between the surface and two miles deep. Are the designers of this sub ignorant of these?
Q. Why can't they just pull up the small sub by a cable?
A. The cable would have to be more than two miles long with no splices. Impossible.
Q. What about oxygen on the sub?
A. Totally depends on the design of the sub. My sub stayed submerged for months at a time because we made our own oxygen and scrubbed out the CO2. This sub was far too small for this. They didn't seem prepared for an emergency.
Q. What can go wrong at a depth of two miles?
Q. What about the owner/operator of the Titan saying that he had no "white-haired, fifty-year-old Navy types" on his boat?
A. I don't think he could have gotten one to sign up. Certainly, I wouldn't.
Q. What about the "noises" heard by a passing P3 Orion sub chaser airplane?
A. The ocean has many, many subs from various countries. Most of them are very old. Many times, the US Navy sells its decommissioned subs to third world countries. I believe these "noises" came from this source. Probably Russian is my guess. They're very noisy. Who knows?
Whatever has happened to this little sub is sad because of the loss of life. The whole situation stinks to high heaven, and in spite of the ridiculous "waivers" that were signed, there needs to be accountability. Probably won't be, though.