There's A Big Twist In The Titan Sub Disaster Investigation

The Titan submersible disaster was one of the biggest and most compelling news stories of 2023, dominating the news cycle from the moment the craft went missing until confirmation came through that the worst had happened. On June 18 that year, a manned submersible operated by the sea exploration company OceanGate lost contact with the surface hours into its journey to the bottom of the North Atlantic, where it was due to visit the wreck of the Titanic. For days, rescuers and sea exploration experts faced a race against time to save those trapped on the vessel and its five passengers before they ran out of oxygen. As live news reports made clear, time was ticking, and it seemed as if the world was unable to tear its gaze from the harrowing disaster as it unfolded.

Tragically, as the days passed, experts concluded that there was no chance those onboard the Titan had survived. On June 22, it was confirmed that the remains of the submersible had been found and that those on board had died following a "catastrophic implosion of the vessel," said Rear Admiral John Mauger of the U.S. Coast Guard in a statement to the press (per NPR).

With those following the story still digesting the fact that the rescue operation was over and that those on board were dead, some outlets, particularly online forums, began sharing material that seemed to give previously untold insights into the doomed submersible's final moments. However, as we found out in 2024 following a final dramatic twist in this tragic tale, things were not quite as they appeared.

The disturbing Titan log transcript

The document in question was an apparent transcript of a communications log between the Titan submersible as it made its descent into the Atlantic, and its mother ship, the Polar Prince, which remained on the surface of the water and acted as a base of operations for the expedition. The log was shared on social media platforms including Facebook and Reddit, and was believed to have been viewed by millions of people looking for answers in the wake of the disaster. 

Beginning with the message "clear for descent. Enjoy the ride" from the crew aboard the Polar Prince, the transcript sees someone onboard the Titan, presumably the captain Stockton Rush, giving updates as the vessel progresses on its journey, checking in with the mother ship every 15 minutes (via Newsweek). The transcript then takes a chilling turn as the Titan reports an alarm on the vessel's "Real-Time Monitoring System," followed by the speaker reporting their intention to release ballast from the vessel and return to the surface. 

According to the transcript, cracking sounds are then heard in the vessel, while it struggles to ascend. Soon after, the Polar Prince stops receiving messages from the submersible, suggesting that the Titan ran into trouble around two hours into the voyage.

The transcript has been deemed a forgery

Although the supposed transcript of the last communications between the Titan and the Polar Prince has circulated on the internet widely since the events of the submersible tragedy, many have been skeptical about the providence of the document, with most experts suspecting that the transcript is a fake. With no recording to accompany the transcript, the messages are simply timestamped and tagged with the name of the vessel that sent them. Indeed, some experts including sea explorer Jeff Ostroff have made quite clear that the transcript was unverified even as they analyzed the document on its social media in search of clues concerning the vessel's demise.

In June 2024, however, Captain Jason D. Neubauer, a former member of the U.S. Coast Guard and chairman of the Marine Board of Investigation who is the head of the investigation into the Titan disaster, declared publicly that the transcript is entirely fake. "I'm confident it's a false transcript," he said. "It was made up" (via The New York Times).

Indeed, the investigation reviewed the audio records of the vessels and found no correlation between what existed and what was circulating online. The truth helps bring closure to the families of those lost on the Titan and reinforces the expert consensus that the implosion would have happened instantaneously and with zero warning, meaning the passengers would have had no idea what was about to befall them. Other incendiary posts purporting to originate from the Titan's final moments, including disturbing videos and audio recordings that suggest knocking and screams, have also been dismissed as disinformation.