Home National News Polar Prince, Ship That Launched Titan Submersible, Returns to Newfoundland

Polar Prince, Ship That Launched Titan Submersible, Returns to Newfoundland

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Polar Prince, Ship That Launched Titan Submersible, Returns to Newfoundland

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Escorted to a Canadian Coast Guard base, the ship that launched the ill-fated Titan submersible returned from international waters to its home port, St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Saturday morning, where investigators boarded it looking for answers.

For hours, a procession of about a dozen people — including investigators from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police — boarded or exited the ship, the Polar Prince, which docked at the Atlantic headquarters of the coast guard.

Pulling large plastic equipment cases, the transportation safety investigators were expected to look for clues that might explain what went wrong aboard the Titan, a submersible that took wealthy passengers from around the world on $250,000 tours of the Titanic wreck site, 12,500 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

On Thursday, a search-and-rescue effort by international teams came to an end, after debris was discovered on the ocean floor, about 1,600 feet from the Titanic wreck, and U.S. Coast Guard officials announced that the missing vessel had most likely imploded, killing the five people on board.

Because the Titan lacked propulsion, the Polar Prince, a Canadian ship owned by Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Service, had tugged the Titan to its launch point and ferried the Titan’s passengers and others to their destination.

The Polar Prince remained near the launch point until the authorities ended the search and it headed to the regional coast guard headquarters. A floating platform that had been used to carry the Titan was brought in separately by a large, orange ocean vessel supply ship.

More than an hour after the ships arrived, about a dozen people clad in orange safety vests and wearing white hard hats entered the vessel.

On Friday, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada announced the investigation and arrived in St. John’s lugging duffel bags and hard cases emblazoned with its name or initials.

Kathy Fox, the chairwoman of the safety board, said that family members of the five people who were inside the submersible when it was destroyed were among the 41 people on the ship when it sailed on June 18. Another official with the safety investigation body said that 17 of the people aboard belonged to the ship’s crew.

The family members were among the people who were interviewed on Saturday by the safety board. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that it separately conducted interviews with passengers and crew on the ship as part of a preliminary examination to determine if a criminal investigation was warranted.

“We’ve received full cooperation,” Ms. Fox told reporters. “It has been a really good interaction thus far.”

Ms. Fox said that the United States Coast Guard would be in charge of recovering and examining the remains of the Titan now on the ocean floor, but that her agency would analyze any of its findings.

The Polar Prince was built in 1959 as a light icebreaker and buoy tender for the Canadian Coast Guard, which named it Sir Humphrey Gilbert. After being taken out of government service in 2001, the ship was renamed Gilbert 1 and changed hands several times.

That swirl of owners included one who listed it on eBay in 2005 with a starting bid of $1 million.

The owners of Miawpukek Horizon Maritime Service include the Miawpukek Mi’kamawey Mawi’omi First Nation in Conne River, Newfoundland.

The Polar Prince set off from its home port of St. John’s on Sunday for the excursion to the Titanic wreck site. The ship had lain in dock several weeks before that as it was preparing for the voyage, which was delayed under inclement weather.

It returned on Saturday under sunny skies and warm weather.

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