IN SHORT: Global news events tend to attract false information. Claims that a video on social media shows the Titan submersible before it imploded, are untrue.
In late June 2023, headlines across Africa and the world reported efforts to rescue five men missing in Titan, a submersible or small submarine diving far down into the North Atlantic Ocean near the east coast of Canada.
The vessel was developed by US company OceanGate Expeditions to allow high-paying customers to view the Titanic, the famous wreck of a passenger ship lying on the ocean floor some 3.8 kilometres below the surface. The ship sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg. This is also the subject of a 1997 movie.
The clip starts with a blank view of the sea out of a round porthole, the window of a ship. The camera briefly swings around to show three passengers: a man in an orange-striped jersey, a woman holding the sub’s ceiling rail, and another man.
It then returns to the porthole where it starts to show the icicle-like rusticles of a sunken ship.
The video has been posted on social media with claims such as:
- A new clip released by #OceanGate reveals footage captured by the crew of the Titanic before the implosion' the #Titan had already reached the #wreckage.
- #OceanGate reveals footage captured of the Titanic before the implosion! #titanicsub #titanic #submarine.
- Last footage of Ocean Gate Titan submersible before the tragic event happened.
- Actual footage of them in the submarine moments before it imploded.
But does the clip really show Titan’s final moments?
No way for video to reach surface
But there are several reasons why the video couldn’t possibly be of Titan’s June 2023 dive.
The first and most obvious is the woman seen in the clip. The five killed in the implosion were all men.
The second reason is that Titan never reached the Titanic, as the view through the porthole seems to show.
Communication with the sub was lost an hour and 45 minutes into its descent. It would have taken the vessel two hours to reach the Titanic. At the time communication was lost, secret underwater US Navy microphones recorded the sound of the implosion.
Furthermore, Titan had only basic means of communication. These were “underwater acoustic positioning, as well as for short text messages to be sent back and forth to the surface vessel”, a robotics expert wrote on the Conversation.
There was no way for Titan’s passengers to send a video to the world.
An AFP investigation suggests that the video was shot near the Caribbean island of Barbados in a different submersible’s trip to the wreck of the Lord Willoughby. The cargo ship sank in the 1600s and lies just 12 metres below the sea surface.
AFP is unable to identify the origin of the clip. But it certainly wasn’t shot inside Titan during the sub’s final descent.
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