As the panic-stricken search continues Thursday in the remote North Atlantic to look for the missing submersible near the wreck of the Titanic, despite air already expected to have run out for the five people aboard, multiple outlets are reporting that there is only one other deep-sea submarine that might be able to reach missing Titan.
According to reports, the other submersible, called Limiting Factor, is owned by video game developer Valve Software CEO Gabe Newell, who also owns gaming software Steam.
While the news sounds promising, experts warn that even if Limiting Factor did reach the Titan, there is no practical way to transfer anyone from one craft to another that depth without destroying both.
Still, simply locating the Titan in order to investigate what might have gone wrong with it would be helpful information and offer some closure to the passengers’ families if tragedy struck.
How did Gabe Newell get a submersible?
Newell, a billionaire, purchased the diving and research vessel from US explorer Victor Vescovo in November. In addition to Valve, Newell runs Inkfish, an ocean exploration research organization.
Who is missing aboard the Titan?
The Titan was carrying its pilot and four others on a deep-sea excursion to the shipwreck, capping a tourist adventure for which OceanGate charges $250,000 per person.
The passengers included British billionaire and adventurer Hamish Harding, 58, and Pakistani-born business magnate Shahzada Dawood, 48, with his 19-year-old son Suleman, who are both British citizens.
French oceanographer and leading Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, and Stockton Rush, founder and chief executive of OceanGate, were also reported to be on board.
The minivan-sized submersible Titan began its descent at 8 a.m. on Sunday. It lost contact with its surface support ship near the end of what should have been a two-hour dive to the site of the world's most famous shipwreck, in a remote corner of the North Atlantic.
The Titan set off with 96 hours of air, according to the company, meaning its oxygen tanks would likely be depleted sometime on Thursday morning. How long the air would actually last, experts said, depended on various factors, such as whether the submersible still had power and how calm those aboard remained.
Still, the countdown to oxygen depletion posed only a hypothetical deadline, assuming the missing vessel was even still intact, rather than trapped or damaged in punishing depths at or near the sea floor.
Reuters contributed to this report.