Another Submersible Has Gone Missing in the Ocean


In June 2023, people around the world watched with bated breath as crews searched the North Atlantic waters near the wreckage of the Titanic for a submersible carrying five passengers that went missing. Another submersible has just gone missing off the coast of Antarctica, and while it wasn’t carrying humans like the Titan submersible, it’s an unfortunate loss for scientific research. 

The University of Gothenburg in Sweden purchased the Ran submersible for approximately $3.6 million in 2015, according to a press release from the school. At 23 feet long, it was just one of three scientific submersibles of its kind in the world. It disappeared while researchers were using the machine remotely to study the melting of the Thwaites Glacier. The ice mass is also referred to as the “Doomsday Glacier” because it could potentially raise global sea levels by more than 10 feet if it were to melt completely. Naturally, it’s an area of interest for scientists studying climate change and its effects on the area like the Ran research team. 

“This was the second time we took Ran to Thwaites Glacier to document the area under the ice,” Anna Wåhlin, a professor of physical oceanography and a leader on the project, said of the endeavor. “Thanks to Ran, we became the first researchers in the world to enter Thwaites in 2019, and during the current expedition we have visited the same area again. Even if you see melting and movements in the ice from satellite data, from Ran we get close-ups of the underside of the ice and information about exactly which mechanisms are behind the melting.”

Related: Titan Sub Debris Found, All Passengers Believed to Be Dead

As for what happened to the submersible, Wåhlin doesn’t have high hopes of it being found. “It’s a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack, but without even knowing where the haystack is,” she said. “At this point, Ran’s batteries are dead. All we know is that something unexpected happened under the ice. We suspect it ran into trouble, and then something prevented it from getting out.”

It seems like seals living under the ice might have a better chance at finding Ran. 

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