In 1985, a team led by marine archeologist Robert Ballard became the first people to lay eyes on the RMS Titanic since the supposedly “unsinkable” ship sank into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg just before the clock hit midnight on April 14, 1912.
The following year, Ballard and other researchers returned with multiple submersible vehicles that allowed them to dive 12,500 miles under the surface to a wreck that was discovered around 400 nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland for the first of multiple explorations that allowed them to chronicle the massive vessel that had been there for close to 75 years.
While Ballard was intent on leaving what is essentially a gravesite where 1,500 passengers and crew members lost their lives untouched, he was unable to prevent others from visiting the Titanic—including a number of operations devoted to salvaging thousands of artifacts that were eventually brought to the surface to showcase to the public in search of a profit.
In 2009, a company called OceanGate opted to take things to a new level by offering tourists the chance to get into a sub capable of withstanding the hydrostatic pressure the ocean exerts at that depth to visit the site themselves for the low, low price of $250,000 per person.
While the company has managed to make a number of trips to the wreck without incident, The New York Times reports things took a terrifying turn on Monday when the Titan (the vessel it uses for this particular expedition) suddenly went missing during a dive.
Details currently remain a bit murky.
The Titan can hold up to five passengers but the OceanGate declined to specify how many people were aboard when it lost communication. The sub also has enough air to allow occupants to survive for up to 96 hours, and the United States Coast Guard (as well as their Canadian counterpart) were quickly deployed to the site to contribute to the search-and-rescue effort.
Here’s to hoping they’re able to succeed in that mission.