Disaster Fact Checks

FACT CHECK: Facebook post shows no real images of Titan submersible wreckage


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FACT CHECK: Facebook post shows no real images of Titan submersible wreckage
The images shown in the Facebook post are from a 2004 expedition to the Titanic wreck. As of writing, no images of debris from the ill-fated Titan submersible have been publicly released.

The claim: A post on the Facebook page Guerrero Noticias features a series of pictures of underwater wreckage supposedly of the missing deep-sea submersible Titan. 


Why we fact-checked this: The photos were posted at 12:49 pm on June 22 (Manila time) by a news and media page based in Mexico. The post has garnered 5,700 reactions, 2,100 comments, and 8,400 shares as of writing.

The post’s caption, translated from Spanish, reads: “THE CREW OF THE TITAN DIED AFTER SUFFERING IMPLOSION AND BREAKING PIECES. French robot finds rubble near the Titanic. Experts say that this rubble belongs to the ‘Titan’ submarine and that the ship suffered an ‘implosion’ and was torn to pieces by so much pressure that is down there.”

The facts: The post lacks context. While it does not state that the photos were of the ill-fated Titan submersible, it would be easy for people to assume that they are, based on the attention and engagement that the post has received in such a short amount of time. 

The photos used are actually from 2004 and came from the University of Rhode Island’s Institute for Exploration, Center for Archaeological Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean Exploration. The pictures show some of the remains of the original RMS Titanic, which struck an iceberg and sank in 1912. Its wreck was first discovered in 1985. 

One of the pictures in the Facebook post can be seen in this 2021 article from the Associated Press, which reported on plans to explore the wreckage of the Titanic by OceanGate Expeditions, the same company behind the Titan submersible.

Another photo from the same source was used in an article from the news site Concho Valley, based in San Angelo, Texas, and WJLA based in Washington, DC. 

Catastrophic implosion: On June 22, the United States Coast Guard announced that the missing Titan submersible was destroyed in a “catastrophic implosion,” killing all five people on board. A remotely-operated vehicle found the tail cone and other debris from the submersible about 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic, CNN reported.

The discovery ended a multinational five-day search for the vessel which went missing on June 18 during a voyage to the century-old wreck of the Titanic.

The Titan, a five-person submersible that could go down 4,000 meters (13,123 feet), was operated by the US-based company OceanGate Expeditions. OceanGate is a privately held company that provides submersibles for commercial, research, and military purposes, according to its website. The company made its first expedition to the wreckage of the Titanic in July 2021

As of writing, no images of the Titan’s wreckage and debris have been released to the media. Katarina Ruflo/Rappler.com

Katarina Ruflo is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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