RAF planes take off from Scotland to assist hunt for missing Titanic sub

The C-17 Globemaster and A400M Atlas aircraft departed RAF Lossiemouth in north east Scotland on Thursday.

Two Royal Air Force (RAF) planes took off this afternoon as part of the UK’s effort to assist with the hunt for the missing Titan submersible.

The C-17 Globemaster and A400M Atlas aircraft departed RAF Lossiemouth in north east Scotland on Thursday to fly to St John’s in Canada.

A British submariner has also been seconded to the search and rescue team looking for the vessel, which went missing during a voyage to the Titanic wreck site.

A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that the C-17 aircraft would transport “specialist commercial equipment” provided by Channel Islands-based deep water specialists Magellan.

One of the passengers onboard, Suleman Dawood (left), is a student at the University of Strathclyde - he is with his father, Shahzada Dawood. Shahzada Dawood

Sources within the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed the RAF received a request overnight for assistance with movement of additional commercial equipment.

Squadron leader Simon Philips said: “The RAF is always ready to support civilian authorities in emergency and humanitarian situations.

“We hope that the RAF contribution to the international rescue effort is of assistance.”

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the US Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

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A No 10 spokesman said: “At the request of US Coastguard, the UK has embedded a Royal Navy submariner to assist the search and rescue effort for the missing submarine.”

Lt Cdr Kantharia “has significant knowledge of submarine warfare and dived operations and so he will obviously be bringing that experience to the search and rescue team”.

The MoD said he had been serving under the commander of the US’ Atlantic Submarine Fleet where he was supporting US naval operations and training.

The government department added that he was seconded to the search “in recognition of his experience and expertise”.

Downing Street said Lt Cdr Kantharia would be part of the Titan rescue efforts for “as long as is required”.

The experienced submariner joined the mission on Tuesday evening in the US, the MoD confirmed.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, asked whether the request for UK assistance should have come sooner, said: “We’ve always said we stand ready to provide any assistance required and that continues to be the case.

“The search and rescue efforts continue and we will look to support that in any way we can.”

Asked whether Sunak planned to speak to the families of the British people onboard the missing submersible, the No 10 official said the Prime Minister’s “thoughts remain with” them and that the Foreign Office is in “constant contact” with those affected.

Rear Admiral John Mauger, of the US Coast Guard, told Sky News he is “thrilled and pleased” to have a UK submariner involved in the search operation to help teams understand the “complex undersea environment”.

“I really appreciate the support from UK submarine force,” he added.

A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible by a remotely-operated vehicle, the US Coast Guard said.

Authorities said experts were “evaluating the information” after a debris field was discovered by a remotely operated vehicle searching for the vessel near the wreck of the Titanic.

The Coast Guard had said earlier on Thursday that it is still treating the mission as an “active search and rescue”, despite hopes fading as the expected 96-hour oxygen supply onboard dwindled.

It comes after the revelation that one of the passengers onboard, Suleman Dawood, is a student at the University of Strathclyde.

The 19-year-old had just completed his first year at business school before going on the trip with his father, Shahzada Dawood.

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