A new image shows the remaining debris from the Titan submersible dredged up from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, while investigators working on the recovery operation say more presumed human remains have been brought up as well.
The U.S. Coast Guard announced on Tuesday that the remaining parts of the commercial deep-sea vessel—which is thought to have imploded while descending to view the famed wreck of the Titanic—had been brought to the surface on October 4, including its titanium endcap, which is visible being secured in the photo.
What are believed to be human remains from the five passengers onboard the craft when it disappeared were carefully removed from the debris and transported to an unnamed port for medical analysis, federal investigators said.
The Coast Guard added that officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada joined the salvage expedition as part of their respective investigations into the suspected implosion.
Investigators previously uncovered human remains among the wreckage—located by deep-sea robots a short distance from the resting place of the Titanic, some 13,000 feet below the surface—shortly after finding it earlier this summer.
The Titan was around an hour and 45 minutes into its descent on the morning of June 18 when it stopped responding to its support vessel.
An operation was launched to locate the submersible before an onboard supply of oxygen was expected to run out, but a debris field was found on the sea floor four days later, which the Coast Guard said appeared consistent with a catastrophic loss of pressure and the ultimate implosion of the vessel. A full report once all the debris has been inspected is expected to provide answers as to what exactly happened to the Titan.
Its five passengers—Hamish Harding, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman—are all presumed dead from the deep-sea implosion.
Soon after the Titan was reported missing, questions were raised about the safety of the deep sea exploration vehicle, which was not certified, had an unconventional design, and was constructed out of some off-the-shelf parts.
A submersible pilot previously told Newsweek that he saw the only explanation for the implosion as being a fault with the engineering design of the capsule. Manned deep-sea vessels are usually spherical to withstand the external pressure of the water around them, but the Titan was cylindrical to accommodate a greater number of passengers.
Wednesday’s image shows the vessel’s dome-shaped endcap entirely intact.
The ongoing investigation aims to find out whether “an act of misconduct, incompetence, negligence, unskillfulness, or willful violation of law” contributed to the passengers’ deaths.
OceanGate, the company that owned the submersible and whose CEO Rush was onboard, has said it would not comment publicly during the investigation.
Investigators have so far declined to comment on when analysis of the human remains will be released to the passengers’ families and the public, but said in August that American medical professionals would “conduct a formal analysis of presumed human remains that have been carefully recovered within the wreckage at the site of the incident.”
A forensic medical expert told Newsweek at the time that an inspection of bodies found underwater can be completed in a matter of hours, but the time-consuming task is to locate and retrieve them in the first place.
Dr. Pierre Perich, a forensic medical examiner at a hospital in the French city of Marseilles, said that human remains he had seen recovered from similar depths had shown “an exceptional state of preservation” due to the absence of oxygen, light and low temperatures—and that in the case of a catastrophic implosion, the deaths would have been “almost instantaneous.”