Report claiming Titan submersible found empty is fabricated

CNN has not published any such report regarding the Titan submersible


Claim: The missing submersible Titan was found empty.

Fact: A CNN spokesperson has confirmed that the image was fabricated. The screenshot is, therefore, doctored.

On 21 June 2023, Facebook page ‘Swagteamondeck’ posted a reel (archive) containing a screenshot allegedly from a CNN report, claiming that a submersible named Titan, which went missing a few days ago, has been found empty.

The text from the viral screenshot has been reproduced as follows:

Missing OceanGate Submarine Found Empty
According to the co-founder of Oceangate, the submarine has been found but the passengers were no longer in the submarine. “The submarine was bolted from the outside making it impossible for the passengers to exit the submarine, almost as if they
vanished.”-OceanGate Co-Founder Wendy Rush
We’ll keep you updated as new information arises.
CNN News
06/21/2023 06h59 Updated 1 hour ago

The Titan story

Titan — manufactured by crewed submersibles company OceanGate Expeditions — went missing (archive) on 18 June 2023 while on a tourist trip to the Titanic wreckage in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Aboard were five people (archive), including OceanGate CEO and founder Stockton Rush, British-Pakistani business magnate Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman, French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and British billionaire Hamish Harding.

It emerged late on 22 June that all five people aboard the Titan submersible died instantly “in a ‘catastrophic implosion’”, The Guardian reported (archive), citing US Coast Guard officials. The update came after officials confirmed (archive) that a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) found five pieces from the sub in a “debris field” inside the search area near the Titanic wreck.

The Guardian quoted US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John W. Mauger as saying, quoted by as saying, “The debris is consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber.”

The Dawood family, through the Dawood Foundation, released a statement (archive) on Twitter, saying, “It is with profound grief that we announce the passing of Shahzada and Suleman Dawood. Our beloved sons were aboard OceanGate’s Titan submersible that perished underwater.”

It also emerged on 23 June that the US Navy already knew about a blast caused by the likely implosion or explosion of the Titan submersible hours after it went missing, The Wall Street Journal reported (archive), citing a US defense official, who said the noise of the vessel’s failure was detected through “top secret” acoustic underwater sensors, a system that was not identified due to national security concerns.

“While not definitive, this information was immediately shared with the Incident Commander to assist with the ongoing search and rescue mission,” a senior US Navy official said, according to the publication.

The system’s data, alongside “information from airborne Navy P-8 surveillance planes and sonar buoys on the surface”, was used to figure out the Titan’s rough location, as per The New York Times (archive).

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check scrolled through CNN’s live blogs from 19 June, 20 June, 21 June, and 22 June but found no update with the headline “Missing OceanGate Submarine Found Empty”. In fact, there is no mention of Wendy Rush in any of the live blogs..

Wendy Rush — who the viral claim is being attributed to is the wife of Stockton Rush, the OceanGate CEO. She is not the co-founder of the company, but mentions herself as the “Director of Communications and Expedition Team Member” on her LinkedIn profile.

Moreover, the viral screenshot is not in line with CNN’s style guide, as the publication does not capitalise the word “co-founder” and signs off updates with  “From CNN’s [reporter’s name], rather than “CNN News”.

The publication’s time and date formats are “xx:xx a.m./p.m. time zone” and “month date, year”, respectively, not xxhxx and “mm/dd/yy”. The time passed since an update is mentioned above the said update, not below it.

CNN also does not include a hyphen after a quote and before the name of the person it quoted.

Furthermore, CNN spokesperson Emily Kuhn confirmed to The Associated Press — which is accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), of which Soch Fact Check is a signatory — that the “image was fabricated and this was not a real news report from CNN”.

Lastly, the image shown in the screenshot is actually of the Cyclops 1 submersible, which was developed in 2015. The visual is dated 5 October 2015 and credited to ‘Isabeljohnson25’ on Wikimedia (archive).


Soch Fact Check found the doctored image here, here, here, here, and here on Facebook, here, here, and here on TikTok, and here on YouTube. Two posts — here and here — were viewed more than 553,400 times and 67,000 times, respectively.

Conclusion: The screenshot is doctored. And a CNN spokesperson has confirmed that the “image was fabricated”.

Background image in cover photo: Oceangate Expeditions

To submit an appeal on our fact-check, please send an email to

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 months ago

[…] Read more: Report claiming Titan submersible found empty is fabricated […]

2 months ago

[…] Also read: Report claiming Titan submersible found empty is fabricated […]

More Stories

Rubber used to make chicken nuggets? Viral video based on false narrative

Video actually shows the process of manufacturing rubber bands

Video of Muezzin giving azan while standing on rubble is not from Morocco

Old video from 2017 went viral after an earthquake hit Morocco
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x