The president of the New York-based Explorers Club has accused the US government of delaying the delivery of vital equipment for the search for the missing Titanic tourist submarine.
Richard Garriott told National Geographic he had complained to senior officials about bureaucracy hampering the race against time.
Two of the five on board – British billionaire Hamish Harding and French Titanic expert PH Nargeolet – are members of the Explorers Club.
Other members have worked to enable offshore company Magellan, based in Guernsey in the British Isles, to ship its surveillance equipment to the site: Magellan has remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that surveyed last year the Titanic site.
Still, Magellan did not obtain the necessary permits to go to the site, Garriott said.
Richard Garriott, president of the Explorers Club, on Wednesday accused the US government of delaying efforts to get supplies to the rescue site
A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) operated by Magellan is pictured in action
He wrote Wednesday afternoon to Vice Admiral William Galanis, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command; Rear Admiral John W. Mauger of the US Coast Guard, who leads the recovery mission; Congressman Lloyd Doggett; and Representative Eric Swalwell, urging them to allow Magellan access to the site.
“Magellan received mixed signals, first hearing the US government prepare, waiting for plans – then being told to stand down,” Garriott wrote.
The US Coast Guard did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Garriott told National Geographic that, even with only 24 hours of air remaining, it was vital to keep fighting to find the missing submarine.
“Whatever is the right thing to do, we still have to do it, even if it is now on the cusp of doom,” he said.
OceanGate Expeditions is one of the only companies to offer tours. Tickets cost up to $250,000.
Magellan Argus-class ROVs are capable of deploying up to 6,000 meters (19,700 ft) and are equipped with external arms capable of recovering and lifting Titan.
They could be delivered to the site within 16 hours.
Instead of Magellan’s ROVs, the US Navy sent its Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System, which was used to recover an F-35 from 12,400 feet of water in March.
But Garriott said there were fears Navy equipment could crush the capsule.
“The concern is that the big scooper will crush the hull, as it would be nearly impossible to get down under it in the mud without applying pressure to the hull itself,” Garriott said.
“Instead, a working-class 6,000-meter ROV has the ability to attach directly to the point at the top of the submarine.
“It’s a traditional method and people like Magellan have done it time and time again. That’s how it’s designed to happen.
Garriott’s concerns about bureaucratic hurdles echo those aired Monday by David Concannon, advisor to OceanGate.
‘We have to move. We don’t have minutes or hours. We have to move now,” he said.
“This equipment sat on the tarmac for hours.
“When I communicate with the US government, I get ‘out of office’ replies – not from everyone, but from key people who have an endorsement on this.”
He told NewsNation: “This is unacceptable.”
This is the latest sighting of the Titan submersible, which was launched on Sunday. It is seen in a photograph shared by Hamish Harding’s company. He and the other four people on board are still missing.
David Concannon, an OceanGate advisor, was scheduled to be on board the Titanic expedition on Sunday, but a last-minute scheduling issue prevented him from being available. He said vital lifesaving equipment was being held up by US bureaucracy
Machinery needed for the rescue effort (pictured) is currently waiting to be transported from the British island of Guernsey
Concannon said the machinery (above) needed urgent clearance to be airlifted to the site
Concannon, who has already led an expedition and completed several dives at the Titanic site, was supposed to be OceanGate’s trip expert to the wreck on Sunday – but a customer emergency kept him ashore.
He said every minute counted in the race to find and recover the submarine.
“If we fly the assets from the Channel Islands of Guernsey overnight, we can get them mobilized to the ship in a day and we can get there inside the window.
“Now it’s at the end of the window, but we can get there inside the window where there’s still oxygen in the submersible and that’s what we want to do.”
The US Coast Guard is now searching for the missing vessel. The wreck of the iconic ship lies 12,500 feet underwater approximately 370 miles from Newfoundland, Canada
The red circle shows the location of the wreckage of the Titanic and a fleet of boats and planes heading to aid in the rescue efforts