The president of the Explorers Club has slammed the US Government after alleging Washington delayed the delivery of vital equipment in the search for the missing Titanic tourist submarine.
Richard Garriott, president of the New York-based club, complained to top officials about the impact of bureaucracy in the urgent search for five missing passengers who have since been pronounced dead.
Two of the five on board, British billionaire Hamish Harding and French Titanic expert PH Nargeolet, are members of the Explorers Club.
The five passengers onboard the Titan submersible have all died, the tour company behind the Titanic expedition and US Coast Guard have said.
An image of a Titan submarine used for such expeditionsOcean Gate
Members from the Explorers Club attempted to get the Guernsey-based Magellan deep-sea company to ship surveillance equipment to the site.
However, Garriott warned Magellan has not obtained the necessary permits.
A statement from the Coast Guard on Wednesday indicated a remotely operated vehicle from Magellan was en route to the scene.
Garriott wrote: “Magellan has received mixed signals, first hearing from US Gov to get ready, waiting for plans - then getting told to stand down.”
Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora maritime surveillance aircraft searches for the missing OceanGate submersibleReuters
He also told National Geographic: “Whatever the right thing is to do, we should still do it, even if it's now at the cusp of fatality.”
Concerns about red tape have been echoed by a member of the company behind the Titan submersible.
OceanGate advisor David Concannon said: “We need to move.
“We do not have minutes or hours. We need to move now.
“This equipment has been on the tarmac for hours.
The Titanic tourist sub vanished in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday, sparking an urgent searchReuters
“When I communicate with the US Government, I get 'out of office' replies - not from everyone, but from key people that have a sign-off on this.”
The complaints come as a debris field was recovered near the site of the Titanic.
Following the discovery, OceanGate announced the passengers have "sadly been lost" in a statement ahead of the Coast Guard's press conference.
Rear Admiral John Mauger added: “We immediately notified the families.
"On behalf of the United States Coast Guard and the entire unified command, I offer my deepest condolences to the families."