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USCG: “Presumed human remains” recovered from Titan wreck

Written by Nick Blenkey
Evidence recovered from Titan wreck site included presumed human remains

Pelagic Research Services tweeted this picture of Horizon Arctic returning to St. John's: USCG says evidence recovered from Titan wreck site includes "presumed human remains" [Image: Pelagic Research Services]

The U.S. Coast Guard says it has received debris and evidence recovered from the seafloor at the site of the Titan wreck when the M/V Horizon Arctic arrived in St. John’s Newfoundland, June 28, 2023.

Ending a lot of speculation on the fate of the five on board the Titan, the Coast Guard said:

“United States medical professionals will conduct a formal analysis of presumed human remains that have been carefully recovered within the wreckage at the site of the incident.”

After consultation with international partner investigative agencies, the Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) intends to transport the evidence aboard a U.S. Coast Guard cutter to a port in the United States where the MBI will be able to facilitate further analysis and testing.

“I am grateful for the coordinated international and interagency support to recover and preserve this vital evidence at extreme offshore distances and depths,” said MBI Chair Captain Jason Neubauer. “The evidence will provide investigators from several international jurisdictions with critical insights into the cause of this tragedy. There is still a substantial amount of work to be done to understand the factors that led to the catastrophic loss of the Titan and help ensure a similar tragedy does not occur again.”

The MBI will continue evidence collection and witness interviews to inform a public hearing regarding this tragedy.

The Horizon Maritime offshore service vessel Horizon Arctic which brought the recovered material back is the former Bourbon Offshore AHTS Bourbon Arctic. Delivered by Vard Braatvag in 2016, it was used to deploy the 6,000 meter depth rated Pelagic Research Services ROV Odysseus 6K to the wreck site where, on its first dive, it located the debris field first referenced by the U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday, July 22.

Subsequently, the ROV, which has heavy-lift capabilities, was used to recover the pieces of the Titan that have now been landed at St. John’s.


As the U.S. Coast Guard continues its investigation of the evidence collected from the Horizon Arctic, the Canadian Transportation Safety Board (TSB) says that its investigators have finished collecting relevant documents and completed the preliminary interviews with those on board the Titan‘s support vessel, Horizon Maritime’s Polar Prince. The investigation team has taken possession of the vessel’s voyage data recorder, which has been sent to the TSB Engineering Laboratory in Ottawa for further analysis.

The TSB has also inspected, documented, and catalogued the materials from the Titan collected by the Horizon Arctic for its safety investigation.

In the next weeks, the TSB investigation team will review the information gathered to date and assess the occurrence in accordance with the TSB Policy on Occurrence Classification. The team will also follow up to gather additional information as required.

The TSB says the purpose of its safety-focused, independent investigation is to find all causal and contributing factors in an accident, without attributing blame or civil or criminal liability. This allows the focus to be placed on addressing safety deficiencies and on preventing similar accidents from happening again.

The TSB acknowledged the cooperation and logistical support it has received from the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and says that it will continue to cooperate with the United States, United Kingdom, and France in accordance with international agreements, as they are “substantially interested states” under the International Maritime Organization Casualty Investigation Code.

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