An image circulating online purports to show underwater debris from the Titan submersible that imploded during its journey to the Titanic, leaving five people dead. This is false; the picture is a 1987 painting that depicts the infamous shipwreck and another vessel that toured it in 1986.
“This is where the debris has been found, just a few yards around the Titanic wreckage,” says text over a June 22, 2023 TikTok video viewed more than three million times. “The 5 billionaires are dead!”
The video came shortly after the US Coast Guard said the OceanGate Expeditions tourist submersible suffered a “catastrophic implosion,” ending a multinational search for the vessel, which lost contact with its mothership less than two hours into its descent.
But the image in the TikTok video does not show the Titan’s debris at the foot of the Titanic.
Reverse image searches show the original picture is a 1987 acrylic painting of the Titanic from Ken Marschall (archived here). The American artist is known for his work depicting the ocean liner, which sank during its maiden voyage in 1912 after colliding with an iceberg.
“The stern section of Titanic and surrounding debris, with the submersible Alvin under the fantail, as they appeared during the 1986 Ballard/WHOI exploration,” the caption on Marschall’s website says.
AFP reached out to Marschall for comment, but no response was forthcoming.
A remote-operated vehicle (ROV) found wreckage from the Titan on the seafloor roughly 1,600 feet (500 meters) from the bow of the Titanic, including the sub’s tail cone and the front and back ends of its pressure hull.
The Coast Guard’s First District told AFP on June 23 that no images or videos of the wreckage had been released.
Those who died on board included OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush; Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French submarine operator known as “Mr Titanic;” Hamish Harding, a British aviation tycoon; and wealthy Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood.