Christine Dawood | The Titan submersible | Source: youtube.com/BBC News | youtube.com/Entertainment Tonight
- Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman Dawood, were among the five courageous explorers who embarked on a daring mission inside the Titan submersible to witness the Titanic wreck firsthand.
- Christine Dawood had planned to explore the Titanic wreck with her husband but had to cancel due to COVID-19.
- According to Christine, her son wanted to break a record underwater, but unfortunately, it couldn’t come to pass.
On Sunday, June 18, as Christine Dawood’s husband, Shahzada Dawood, prepared for the diving expedition, she anxiously observed the ocean, hoping to catch a glimpse of the submersible resurfacing.
The divers and submersible crew assembled on deck by 5 a.m., engaging in a briefing that outlined the plan and responsibilities. Christine was struck by the team’s efficiency, describing the operation as a well-oiled machine. The divers and crew were well-prepared, having undertaken similar missions before.
Before the expected 12-hour trip, the first-time divers received instructions on what to expect and how to prepare. Stockton Rush, an experienced diver and CEO of OceanGate, advised them to follow a low-residue diet and avoid coffee before diving.
His goal was to solve the Rubik’s Cube 3,700 meters beneath the sea at the site of the Titanic.
As the divers geared up, they stopped to be weighed, a standard requirement. Christine vividly recalled her husband’s words, “I’m looking quite fat. I’m boiling up already.” This lighthearted comment added a touch of humor amidst the anticipation.
The divers, including Shahzada and his son, Suleman, descended to the motorized raft to transport them to the floating platform where the Titan submersible was stationed.
As they descended the stairs, Shahzada, hindered by clunky boots, required additional support from Christine and his daughter, Alina Dawood. With the divers safely aboard, they disappeared into the Titan, their forms diminishing on the distant platform.
Inside the submersible, the divers navigated through a back hatch, reminiscent of entering an SUV without seats. Once inside, the hatch was sealed, and the bolts were tightly secured. The Titan was then maneuvered underwater, gradually descending into darkness.
As Christine anxiously awaited news of their progress, she continued to scan the ocean surface, hoping for any sign of the submersible resurfacing. She recalled, “I was also looking out on the ocean, in case I could maybe see them surfacing.”
Tragically, four days later, debris from the Titan was found, leading authorities to conclude that the submersible had imploded, resulting in the loss of everyone on board.
The Record That Could Never Be Made
Suleman, a teenager aiming to break a record in the Titan submersible, took his Rubik’s Cube with him on the expedition. His mother revealed in an interview that he had planned to achieve a world record and had even applied to the Guinness World Records. Shahzada, Suleman’s father, had brought a camera to capture the anticipated achievement.
Christine and her 17-year-old daughter were on board the Polar Prince, the support vessel for the Titan submersible, when they received the heartbreaking news that communication with the sub had been lost.
Initially, Christine had planned to join her husband on the voyage to witness the Titanic wreckage. However, their plans were disrupted due to COVID-19. Consequently, she stepped back and allowed Suleman to take her place, as he reportedly had an unwavering desire to go on the expedition.
Suleman, known for his Rubik’s Cube-solving abilities, carried the puzzle with him everywhere. His goal was to solve the Rubik’s Cube 3,700 meters beneath the sea at the site of the Titanic.
Tragically, Suleman, 19, and his father, Shahzada, 48, and three others lost their lives aboard the Titan submersible. Christine reminisced about their last moments together on the Polar Prince on Father’s Day, describing her husband’s infectious curiosity and excitement for the world around him.
Christine and her daughter gradually lost hope as the search and rescue mission turned from hopeful to desperate. They returned to St John’s, where a funeral prayer was held for Shahzada and Suleman.
Despite the ongoing investigations, Christine expressed her determination to continue her husband’s work and legacy while acknowledging that she would miss him and her son terribly.
Titanic Sub—the Expedition That Ended in Tragedy
The US Navy detected sounds consistent with an implosion shortly after the sub lost contact during its descent to the Titanic wreck at a depth of 3,800 meters. The sub’s loss was confirmed after an extensive search mission in the waters off Canada’s Newfoundland province.
The implosion was likely caused by the immense water pressure at that depth, leading to the collapse of Titan’s hull. Although the sub was designed to withstand such pressure, experts are now investigating the exact cause of the failure. Analysis of the debris found may provide crucial insights into what went wrong.
The sub was believed to be at a depth of 3,500 meters when contact was lost, with the surrounding water exerting enormous pressure, equivalent to the weight of tens of thousands of tonnes.
The Polar Prince, the main support ship for the Titan submersible, arrives at the Port of St. John’s in Newfoundland, Canada, on June 24, 2023 | Source: Getty Images
During an implosion, the submarine hull collapses inward at a rapid speed of around 1,500 miles per hour. The complete collapse occurs within a millisecond, triggering an explosion as the air inside the sub auto-ignites.
The investigation will likely focus on the carbon fiber mid-section of the Titan sub, as the pressure vessels of deep-sea vehicles are typically constructed using robust metals like titanium. The cylindrical shape of the OceanGate sub, with a carbon fiber tube inserted between titanium end caps, was adopted to accommodate more people.
The immense pressure at such depths, over 300 times that at the sea surface, could have exposed flaws in the fabrication or introduced and worsened instabilities during repeated dives. The investigation will explore non-destructive testing practices and carefully study the photographed debris to determine where the structural integrity of the sub was compromised, leading to the tragic implosion.