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BOSTON – The U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday formally announced an investigation into the incident that led to the deaths of five people onboard a submersible that experienced a “catastrophic implosion” during a trip to view the wreckage of the RMS Titanic.

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Rear Adm. John Mauger said during a news conference that the case had been “extremely complex,” adding that the outcome was “something we had not hoped for.”

He added that there were 39 “search-and-rescue” sorties during the hunt for the submersible, which covered more than 13,000 miles.

The probe will be led by Capt. Jason Neubauer, the Coast Guard’s chief investigator. It is the Coast Guard’s highest level of investigation. Neubauer said the agency will be assisted by other international agencies, including those from Canada, France and the United Kingdom.

“My primary goal is to prevent a similar occurrence by making the necessary recommendations to advance the safety of the maritime domain worldwide,” Neubauer said during Sunday’s news conference.

The Titan, a 21-foot submersible owned by OceanGate Expeditions, lost contact with the ship that launched it about 75 minutes into a dive on June 18. Officials and commercial vessels from the U.S. and Canada have combed an area twice the size of Connecticut, looking for signs of the Titan.

Officials with OceanGate identified the five onboard the Titan as Stockton Rush, the company’s CEO; Shahzada Dawood, and his son Suleman Dawood; Hamish Harding; and Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

Officials said a remotely operated vehicle searching the Atlantic Ocean sea floor found parts of the Titan on Thursday morning that indicated that the vessel had imploded.

The Titan was about 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic when it appeared to have imploded.

The Titan’s last position was reported about 435 miles south of St John’s, Newfoundland, on its expedition to the site where the Titanic sank more than a century ago, the AP reported.

At least 46 people successfully traveled on the OceanGate submersible to the Titanic wreck in 2021 and 2022, according to company letters filed in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, the AP reported.