Frightening log from Titan submersible’s fatal dive declared a fake

Last year, a purported transcript of communications between the Titan submersible and its mother ship circulated widely on the internet. Viewed millions of times, the so-called log suggested that a series of alarms had turned a dive to the resting place of the Titanic into a heart-pounding crisis in which the five voyagers struggled in vain to return to the surface.

But the head of the U.S. federal government team investigating the disaster said that the entire transcript is a fiction. After nearly a year of investigation, his group has found no signs that the five voyagers aboard the Titan had any warning of the catastrophic implosion that was to take their lives. Two miles down, where seawater exerts vast pressures, an implosion would have made the violent collapse of the vehicle’s hull instantaneous.

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“I’m confident it’s a false transcript,” said Capt. Jason D. Neubauer, who retired from the U.S. Coast Guard and serves as chair of the Marine Board of Investigation, the agency’s highest level of inquiry. “It was made up.” Its authorship is not known.

Despite the log’s air of authenticity, the federal team saw through the pretense for a variety of reasons. Significantly, Neubauer’s team gained access to the records of the actual communications between the submersible and its mother ship, which remain an undisclosed part of the federal investigation.

The investigator’s disclosures are the first to emerge from a comprehensive inquiry begun last summer into the disaster and its causes. While there were expectations that the investigation would be concluded before the anniversary of the Titan’s destruction, a mix of technical and jurisdictional complexities mean that a final report could take years.

The transcript apparently began circulating on the internet in late June 2023 and offered a minute-by-minute report rich in technical details. It recounted specialized Titan acronyms, the first name of a mother ship expert and credible depictions of the submersible’s descent. In short, the detailed report had an air of authenticity.

“Somebody did it well enough to make it look plausible,” Neubauer said. The log made the adventurers “look like they were panicking,” he added.

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