Sound signals suggest stricken Titanic submarine ‘near or at surface’

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    Sound signals suggest the missing Titanic tourist submersible could be close to or at the surface, an expert has said.

    As the search for the missing OceanGate Explorations sub 'Titan' intensifies, this morning (Wednesday, June 21) it was reported that an aircraft searching for the vessel picked up "banging" noises from the area it went missing.

    Rolling Stone reported that internal email updates sent to US Department of Homeland Security leadership said a Canadian plane detected the sounds at 30 minute intervals.

    READ MORE: ‘Psychic detective’ pinpoints the Titanic tourist sub – and it's not where you think

    The sounds were picked up by sonar buoys the aircraft was using. US authorities confirmed the noises were heard at half hour intervals for about four hours on Tuesday.

    Australian submarine search and rescue expert Frank Owen told the BBC his "confidence went up by an order of magnitude" when he heard what the floating sound detectors had picked up.

    He said the fact sound signals were picked up by a buoy close to the surface suggests Titan itself could be near or at the surface too.

    Owen explained: "Onboard this craft is a retired French navy diver. He would know the protocol for trying to alert searching forces… on the hour and the half hour you bang like hell for three minutes.

    "Below about 180m, the water temperature drops very rapidly.

    "That creates a layer that the [sonar signal] bounces off. But if you’re in the same depth water it tends to go quite straight."

    Even if Titan is at the surface of the Atlantic it could be difficult to spot. The vessel is very small, and yesterday rescuers said an area roughly the size of Connecticut had been searched.

    However, floating sound detectors could be used to triangulate the signal and narrow down the position if several devices pick up the noises.

    Speaking to CBS this afternoon, Rear Admiral John Mauger of the US Coast Guard confirmed sonar buoys detected noise but added: "We don't know the source of that noise."

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