An undated image courtesy of OceanGate Expeditions, shows their Titan submersible launching from a platform
Titan submersible/Image: AFP AFP News

The ill-fated Titan submersible and its tragic end have left people wondering what transpired before it imploded with five people onboard.

Several theories and some facts have come to light, but there is still no clarity as to what happened to the submarine. Now, screenshots of alleged final communications between someone on board and its mothership, the Polar Prince, have gone viral on the internet.

The messages suggest that the passengers were aware of the issues with the submarine for some 18 minutes before it imploded. The communications begin at 7:52 a.m. once the vessel received clearance for the descent to the Titanic wreckage.

Its mothership then asks the passenger to perform a systems check. The passengers then inform the Polar Prince that all systems are functioning normally at 8:34 a.m.

"All systems are functioning normally. We're in good shape. Continuing our descent as planned," the screenshots read.

However, at 9:28 a.m., the crew noticed an alarm from the Real-Time Monitoring System. The passengers agree unanimously that they should abandon their descent and return. But the ascent goes slower than expected. The RTM begins to show "all red" alerts by the time the Polar Prince gets the final update from Titan.

"We're not receiving you. Update please," the Polar Prince tells the sub at 9:50 a.m. "We are unable to read you. We are moving to recovery coordinates. Report if you read."

The final message is sent at 9:57 a.m., with the mothership asking passengers to respond "if they are able to." The screenshots have led to several speculations, but they have not been verified by any authorities.

The formal inquiry into the incident has been launched and is currently underway. The US Coast Guard and Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) are both conducting their own investigations into the matter.

The incident sparked social media outrage, with people questioning whether the company's submersibles were safe or not. Several reports have claimed that the company leadership was aware of safety issues with the doomed vessel but did not care.

The US authorities have said that the Titan carrying five people suffered a "catastrophic implosion" and killed all five of its passengers instantly. The deceased passengers included a British adventurer, a French diver, a Pakistani father and son, and the founder of OceanGate Expeditions.

It is believed to have been 3,500 metres below sea level when it lost contact with its mothership. The 21-foot (6.5-metre) submersible disappeared last weekend. It lost contact with its parent vessel about 900 miles (1,450 kilometres) east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The submersible had carried out several expeditions to the Titanic wreckage in the past, but it went missing during its latest mission, triggering a multinational search and rescue operation.

The US Coast Guard, Canadian military planes, and French vessels all came together for the operation. Remote-operated robots were also deployed for underwater search operations, but no survivors were found. The sub's wreckage was eventually found in the vicinity of the Titanic's wreck site.

According to experts, the submersible's hull must have collapsed due to the pressure exerted by the surrounding water. However, a thorough investigation and analysis of the debris will need to be conducted to say anything for sure.

It has been over a century since the sinking of the Titanic, but the fascination with the ship and its story has not died down. People are willing to spend millions and even risk their lives just to get a glimpse of its wreckage lying in the North Atlantic. Around 250 people have visited the Titanic wreckage since 1985, according to a report in The Times.

However, this mad fascination with the Titanic has now claimed five lives, and this incident should serve as a lesson to people who have made it a billion-dollar industry.