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Erin Burnett Outfront

5 Aboard Sub Dead After "Catastrophic Implosion"; Zelenskyy Alleges Russia Is Weighing A "Terrorist Attack" At The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant; Ex-GOP Representative And CIA Officer Will Hurd Becomes 12th GOP Candidate To Join Presidential Race. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 22, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, catastrophe at sea. Major questions still remain about the ones Titanic bound sub, as we are just learning that a top secret U.S. Navy system heard the submersible implode.

Plus, an experimental vessel. That is how the doomed sub is described in the OceanGate liability agreement that out front has obtained. So, what exactly is the submersible -- was the submersible, and others like it made of? And is that what ultimately sealed its fate?

And remembering the five passengers, humans onboard. Friends and family of the explorers join us next.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, a catastrophic implosion. The Coast Guard confirming debris from the Titan submersible has been found near the wreckage of the Titanic.


REAR ADM. JOHN MAUGER, U.S. COAST GUARD: The remote operating vehicle has been searching, it is highly capable. And we've been able to classify parts of the pressure chamber for the Titan submersible. The debris field is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel.


BURNETT: All right. So, the mystery tonight is what caused that catastrophic implosion? We keep using the word implosion, right? We're talking about heavy pressure here, right? An implosion is what would occur underwater like that.

"The Wall Street Journal" first reporting that it was so powerful, top secret navy underwater microphones actually picked up that sound, coming from near the site of the Titanic. Now, officials are saying it does not appear that the implosion was in anyway because of an actual run in with the Titanic debris field itself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARL HARTSFIELD, WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION: It's in an area where there is not any debris of Titanic, it's a smooth bottom. To my knowledge, and anything I've seen, there's no Titanic wreckage in that area.


BURNETT: Now, OUTFRONT obtained the liability agreement that the four passengers would have had to sign. From others who have done this. And it reads, in part, it was interesting. It's a three-page document. One key line, I think, makes a lot clearer here.

It says, I have been informed about the nature of the operation, and the risks it presents, including, when diving below the ocean surface, this vessel will be subject to extreme pressure. And any failure of the vessel while I am aboard could cause severe injury or death.

Now, you know, if you're going down on this, you're going to read these three pages. It is a sobering thing because that indemnity form goes on to mention the word death seven more times, in a three-page document.

And tonight, OceanGate is releasing a statement about the five victims, who did die. Which reads, in part: These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world's oceans. One of the explorers, and we see on your screen now, these are the five men who died, is Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French deep sea explore. He's been down to that detaining debris field at least 35, times and now haunting interview, Nargeolet spoke about what would happen if his submersible were to get stuck at the Titanic's wreckage site.


PAUL-HENRI NARGEOLET, FRENCH SUBMARINER & EX-NAVY OFFICER: If you are in the sub in nothing is running anymore, making some heat, it's very cold. If we have some equipment and all of that, after a while, we dive because of the cold, which is not a bad way to die because you fall sleep, it's not -- you don't suffer. We know that. We never think that could happen. You know, it's never come to our head.


BURNETT: Sobering words from Nargeolet, it appears perhaps, these five men did not suffer, depending on the nature of this implosion.

In a moment, I'm going to speak to Paul-Henri's stepson. First, I want to go to Jason Carroll, who is OUTFRONT live tonight in Boston.

And, Jason, what is the latest you're hearing from officials there tonight about what happened and why and when?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first things first, the U.S. Coast Guard says those remotely operated vehicles are going to continue their search, their map of the ocean floor, and where the debris was found, to see if quite possibly anything else can be found down there. Now, come the questions. Why it happened, and could this have been prevented?


REAR ADM. JOHN MAUGER, U.S. COAST GUARD: This morning, an ROV operated vehicle from the vessel Horizon Arctic discovered the tail cone of the Titan submersible, approximately 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic, on the sea floor.


The debris is consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber.

CARROLL (voice-over): Four days after his first reported missing, the U.S. Coast Guard confirming the worst about the Titan submersible, a catastrophic implosion, resulting in the loss of life of all five on board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found five major pieces of debris that told us that it was the remains of the Titan. The initial thing we found was, the nose cone, which was outside of the pressure hall. We then found a large debris field.

CARROLL: Rear Admiral John Mauger confirmed the families of the crew were immediately notified, and briefed.

MAUGER: The ROVs will remain on scene, and continue to gather information. We're still working to develop the details for the timeline involved with this casualty, and the response.

CARROLL: A spokesperson for Pelagic Research Services confirmed to CNN, it was their ROV, a remotely operated vehicle, that found the debris field near the Titanic. The complex search and rescue mission has attracted international attention, garnering assistance from the U.S., Canada, France, and the United Kingdom.

In the last 24 hours, search efforts have accelerated over the massive area. Twice the size of Connecticut, for the missing vessel, as officials fear the 96-hour oxygen supply was running out.

MAUGER: The outpouring of support in this highly complex search operation has been robust, and immensely appreciated.

CARROLL: The Titan began its dive Sunday, but lost communication one hour and 45 minutes into its excursion to the site of the Titanic wreckage. The five passengers, British business been Hamish Harding, CEO of OceanGate, Stockton Rush, Pakistani businessmen Shahzada Dawood and his teenage son, Suleman, French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, on board, confined to a small area about the size of a minivan.

The U.S. Coast Guard says the search for those on board will continue.

MAUGER: This is an incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the sea floor. And the debris is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel. And so, we'll continue to work and continue to search the area down there. But I don't have an answer for prospect this time.


CARROLL: And now, Erin, come some of the statements from the families of those who are onboard. The Dawood family releasing a statement thanking everyone who was involved in the search effort, also thanking well-wishers from all over the world. They're saying that all of those well wishes have really helped them get through this very trying time.

And, of course, Hamish Harding's family also releasing a statement, calling him an inspiration and also a living legend -- Erin.

BURNETT: Jason, thank you very much.

I want to go now to Ben Kesling, "The Wall Street Journal" reporter.

Ben, obviously, you broke the story, I mentioned a moment ago about this top secret military acoustic the detection system, that the U.S. Navy has. That heard the submersible implosion, possibly, heard they suspect at the time it may have been the Titan.

So, what exactly did they hear, and when?

BEN KESLING, REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, around the same time that the type ten lost communications, the Navy picked up what they thought was an implosion, it turns, out it was likely the Titan. This happened on Sunday. Just a few hours after the Titans launch and well ahead of all of the search and rescue efforts that happened since then.

Now, the Navy won't specify what exactly the audio system was they picked it up. The U.S. Navy does maintain a robust underwater microphone array that can pick up enemy submarines or any kind of threats to the homeland.

But one of the questions that come up since then, if the Navy reported this just hours after the event happened on Sunday, why did the search and rescue continue? Well, the search and rescue continued because they couldn't be 100 percent sure that what they heard was the implosion of the Titan. .

BURNETT: Right, and the banging and things like that. How would they have picked up? What's the acoustic system used for?

KESLING: Well, the acoustic system is typically used for detecting enemy submarines, off the coast of the United States. It's been around since the '50s really, and some of the banging that has been reported.


Not sure if the begging actually happen, or that just background noise that was picked up. BURNETT: Right, right, at that point, of course, there are so many

vessels in the area. I can imagine it would be confusing, although obviously, they know what signals mean.

All right. Ben, thank you very much. As I said, been breaking this crucial story, right?

If they pick this up when it lost communication, it does indicate not just catastrophic, but that it happened early and perhaps no suffering, right? That's the crucial thing, perhaps no suffering.

I want to go now to Chris Lemons, a deep sea diver who was once trapped in the ocean floor. Jeff Eggers, a retired U.S. Navy commander of submissions. And Frank Owen, retired Australian Navy submarine commander, and project director for Submarine Escape and Rescue.

Thank you all very much for joining me with your expertise.

Obviously, the feeling today is very different than last night when we had so much hope that perhaps this would -- would end differently.

Commander Eggers, you heard Ben's reporting there at "The Wall Street Journal" that the top secret U.S. military acoustic detection system picked up an implosion sound really right when they lost communications, right, so about an hour and 45 minutes in.

What does that tell you about what happened here?

JEFF EGGERS, FORMER U.S. NAVY COMMANDER AND SUB OPERATOR: Thanks, Erin. One of the things I think your listeners will be surprised to learn, we've mapped more of distant planets and the moon that we have our own ocean floor. In other words, it's really the last unexplored frontier.

And for that reason, it's a very important demand for military operations, because it's one of the last truly clandestine operating demands.

So, as we've heard, this is an important to listen, and try to detect for foreign activity. These hydrophones, the capabilities will be very sensitive and obviously classified. However, the implosion of a pressure hull such as the Titan is going to be a violent, almost explosive phenomena, it will certainly register for those very sensitive hydrophones.

And at the same time, it's a very dynamic environment. As we've heard of the last couple of days, the acoustics of the undersea environment are very dynamic and very complex. And so, I imagine, even with the best acoustic technicians that the navy has, there's still some uncertainty as to what they're hearing. What was occurring, and so forth.

BURNETT: Right, obviously, they did continue looking. It wasn't because they weren't sharing information. They weren't foolish, or I'm sure of that.

Commander Owen, based on what we've learned today, and what we're hearing now, what do you think actually happened to the Titan?

FRANK OWEN, RETIRED AUSTRALIAN NAVY SUBMARINE COMMANDER: Well, you really asking me to speculate at this point. I've heard an interview from James Cameron, who broken his silence on this. James has far more experience than me going to the bottom of the ocean. He went to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

And when he did, that he was in a ceramic vehicle, actually designed and built in Australia. That's just by the by. And he's reported that there's strong evidence that they had dumped their clamp weights, which is the disposable weight to give them buoyancy. He had -- this would be his speculation, that the haul started to deliminate. They had strain gauges to provide instant measurement of the strain on the haul.

But this is not like metal that deforms and then has elastic recovery. If carbon fiber goes, it goes.

BURNETT: Right, right.

OWEN: And there's no -- it's unforgiving.

BURNETT: Right, you don't get warning enough to do anything. Chris, you know, you have been stuck underwater, deep underwater in a dive. Cord teetering you to the ship got caught, and detached. And then I'll show you, so everyone can see, so everyone can understand just a sense of how unforgiving, right, this is what happen here.

The moment the ROV, right, which now found the debris field, here for the Titan, but when the ROV found you, you are unconscious, lying there. Based on your own experience with recovery underwater, and obviously, this being 10,000 plus feet further down now, how difficult is the recovery process going to be, when it comes to now what they're trying to do, to retrieve what happened in the sub, to figure out exactly what happened, and to retrieve possibly the bodies of the people on board?

CHRIS LEMONS, DEEP SEA DIVER: Yeah, I think it's going to be very, very tricky. It really depends on how far they're prepared to, go in the resources that they protect put into it. I think the reality, is once they got the ROVs down to the seabed, they're able to locate this relatively quickly. Very extremely capable, vehicles no reason why they would be able to collect whatever debris is down there, and bring it back for examination.


But as was sort of suggested there, the fact that the hull was, you know, catastrophically imploded with extremely violent act and therefore, you know, what is left is likely to be very, very minimal, both, you know, of the sub itself, but also unfortunately of the occupants.

So, we were full of hope yesterday. Today, it's just full of sympathy and are sorry for the families involved.

BURNETT: Yes, sympathy and sorrow.

And, Commander Owen, let me ask you, you know, you mention obviously that this was not ceramic, right? This is not made of metal, right? This was made of carbon.

I mean, could anything have been done to prevent this tragedy? And I should note of course that this very Titan have been up and down to the Titanic multiple times.

OWEN: Yes, but when it fails, it fails. I mean, that's statement of the obvious.

The things that could be done, and I think there will be a strong push for many, is to provide this engineering overview that is provided by the various classifications society such as American Bureau of Shipping, Det Norske Veritas, Lloyds, there's a number of them operating in this space.

And they are used by organizations that have corporate responsibility, and have corporate policies that require they take -- they manage their risks and understand the way they are done. That you're going to design it. You can't impose this regulatory environment on an individual organization, that is going to operate in the high seas, and is deliberately deciding to take on the risk itself.

And, so, you have an oil and gas industry that says if we suffer a loss, and they are the deal with lost management, not safety. And if they have a lost like this, it imperils their -- that causes a loss in their production, and therefore they want to do everything they can to minimize that. And they'll have backups systems.


OWEN: They'll have other ways to do it.

BURNETT: So, Commander Eggers, obviously, you have been a sub operators, U.S. Navy commander.

What -- does this change what happens? Is this exploration still continuing? Are people still going to go down in these things? Or does this now fundamentally and forever change?

EGGERS: Well, absolutely. And like I said, this is the last great unexplored frontier. And I think people would be drawn to this environment for those reasons. But I think it also reflects on a professionalism of the recovery and rescue crews, that convened out here in the middle of the ocean.

The tragic outcome wasn't what we were all hoping for, obviously, but that doesn't mean it was an unsuccessful search and rescue operation. It really put the Coast Guard's incredible professionalism on display, it was really something to behold.

BURNETT: Certainly, that they found it quickly, you know? Things like MH-37, we still have not found.

Thank you all very much. I appreciate your time.

And next, new details about how the Titan was constructed, and the choice of materials used. Did that ultimately doomed the submersible, right? We are talking about that carbon hall?

Plus, the pilot of the Titan, Stockton Rush, his wife was a descendant of passengers on the Titanic and he was a lifelong adventure seeker, who pushed the boundaries.


STOCKTON RUSH, CEO OF OCEANGATE: I had broken some rules to make this. I think I've broken them with logic and good engineering.


BURNETT: And a doctor who specializes in extreme conditions says the passengers were likely killed instantly.



BURNETT: Tonight, as crews search for the bodies of the five people killed, and the catastrophic implosion of the Titan submersible, chilling words coming to light in the liability waiver for passengers of the sub. And as I said, we've obtained that waiver here OUTFRONT, from someone who's been on that Titan sub.

It says in part, quote, the experimental submersible vessel has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body, and maybe constructed with materials that have not been widely used in human occupied submersibles. And that is indeed the, case for the tight.

Let's go to Tom Foreman, who is OUTFRONT at the magic wall.

And, Tom, it appears here that what the submersible, it's not a submarine, a submersible is constructed of maybe very crucial. Can you show us what was found, and why that immediately meant that the people had perished from a catastrophic implosion?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Erin. This was presented really as a sleek model of simplicity, a smooth tube inside where people could see really I write on the Titanic through a big window out there, unbelievable views, and of the ocean floor.

So what did they find, that made such a difference here when they were investigating down there. The first thing they say they found was this tale covering back here. And then they found this nose covering down here. And then they found a similar one, which is hidden underneath it down here.

That told him that the tube itself was opened on both ends, and that alone assures them, even without finding any other evidence, that nobody could have possibly survived, Erin. BURNETT: All right. So, in terms of what it was made of, they talk

about it in their own right and dimity that they showed that it was experimental. What was so experimental about the Titan? I mean, it would seem that all deep-sea subs are in some way experimental.

FOREMAN: Yeah, they are all unique. There's some experimental quality to them. This one, though, was very unusual. It had a carbon fiber body here, the tube. The ends were titanium, titanium down here. Then it had that big viewing port down here.

Also, the fact that it is constructed as a tube, not as a round vessel all the way around like many deep-sea vessels are. All of that presented potential failure points at the glass up here -- the plastic up here, at this joint here, at this joint here and along the sides of this tube.

All of that, very experimental compared to what people knew before. Of course, as you know, many questions about the testing of it. Did they do something unusual in the testing that made it even more experimental?


BURNETT: Right, right, and, obviously, you know, carbon fiber uses the totally opposite pressure situation and airplanes.

FOREMAN: Yeah, yeah.

BURNETT: So, this is the opposite. Tom, if people can talk about a, armchair critics, everybody is pushing theories now. Many of them very smart but no one yet knows. How will investigators probe what happened?

FOREMAN: You mentioned airplanes. It will be like that. What they will try to do is the very same rovers that they used to send down there to bring this up, to find the first pieces, they will send rovers like that down to try to collect all they can. That would be the normal procedure, as many pieces as they can of it and bring it back up.

Like they did with an airplane, they, in effect, will try to reconstruct the vessel as it was to see if that gives them clues as to where the failure happened that proved fatal to everyone on board.

Now, I will tell you this, Erin, at this level of pressure, the engineering of this is such that the failure could have started with something as small as a pinprick. It could have been incredibly small but with this pressure, the mechanical expanding of that would have been extraordinarily fast.

BURNETT: Yeah, and as they say, no warning in the carbon fiber as you might get with some metal construction.

Tom, thank you very much.

I want to go now to Greg Stone. He's the chief ocean scientist for Deep Green Resources. He also knows Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate who had done so much with this engineering and was on the submersible.

So, Greg, first, I want to ask you about the titan but I am so sorry for you for the loss of your friend who had ingeniously built this, had taken these risks that he thought made sense. I know that you say you and Stockton Rush were kindred spirits. What made him so special to you?

GREGORY STONE, KNOWS SUB'S PILOT, STOCKTON RUSH: He was a -- he was a bright, energetic curious man with a mission to expand our ability to explore the ocean, to democratize it in such ways by coming up with a new paradigm for deep diving with submarines. There are technical details about different designs and he was combining recent advances in material science with existing technologies to make the submarine larger and easier to use.

It's a very tragic thing. He was very passionate. He did not build it to run trips to the Titanic. That was something that was just going on at this point in the development of his endeavor. He was building it to give humanity more access to the ocean, to learn about the ocean and learn about our planet and help us manage all the changes that are going on.

BURNETT: Well, I think that -- explaining that motive to people is important. It is the truth.

And I know, obviously, you have studied this because as a chief ocean scientist with these sorts of things, you have done thousands of dives yourself. I know from the very beginning, Gregory, that you thought this was a catastrophic implosion just based on your experience. Obviously, we are talking about this carbon fiber hull.

What made you think this from the beginning?

STONE: Just hearing the basic facts of communication and then a cut -- a sudden drop off of the communication, no -- nothing rising up, no emergency beacons. It just sounded to me like it was a catastrophic implosion.

The only other ways people have died in these submarine operations is usually by getting entangled in something and then they get cold, the air runs out, they get hypothermic and then they expire in this way. The pressure implosions are unusual.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Gregory. Thank you.

STONE: You bet.

BURNETT: All right. And next, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, he was known as Mr. Titanic. He was one of the five passengers inside the Titan. He visited the titanic wreckage site at least 35 times. He was an expert. He did know what he was doing. His stepson is my guest.

Plus, I will speak to a doctor who specializes in extreme conditions and he will tell you what he thinks happened inside that sub. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BURNETT: Tonight, obtaining a statement from the family of Paul-Henri Nargeolet, the former French naval officer turned Titanic expert. He is also an American citizen who has been to the Titanic 35 times. He died in that submersible, headed for the Titanic wreckage.

His family says, quote: Our hearts are broken during the loss of our extraordinary father and husband. He is a man that would be remembered as one of the greatest deep-sea explorers in modern history.

He was certainly that. I will be speaking in just a moment to his stepson.

But, first, Nick Watt is OUTFRONT with a look at how this happened and Stockton Rush, the CEO who was there, the company that owns the sub.


RUSH: All the lead down here can be dropped in an absolutely emergency so you can get to the surface.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stockton Rush, risk taker, envelope pusher, explorer.

MIKE REISS, PERSONAL FRIEND OF STOCKTON RUSH: He is one of the most magnetic men I've ever met. I love calling him the last of the great American dreamers.

WATT: His widow Wendy is the great, great granddaughter of Isidor and Ida Strauss, who went down with the Titanic. Their fictional selves appeared in James Cameron's movie which only heightened the global fascination with the dramatic demise of the liner that had been hailed unsinkable.

Rush first took Titan, his experimental submersible, down to the wreckage in 2021.

REISS: If you are casting a submarine commander in a soap opera, you'd use him. There is such an easy parallel I hate to go for, which is, he's Captain Kirk. You know, he was bold and dynamic and, you know, sort of commanding. And, you know, he wanted to boldly go where no one has gone before.

WATT: His attitude toward strict rules and regulations according to his many interviews, they stifle innovation.

RUSH: I would like to be remembered as an innovator. I think it was General Macarthur who said you are remembered for the rules you break. And, you know, I have broken some rules to make this. I think I have broken them with logic and good engineering.


WATT: Before taking the sub down to another treacherous wreck in 2018, he said this.

RUSH: We always have a number of divers who tell us you can't do this. It is dangerous if you are a diver. We look at submarines as being an armored vehicle.

WATT: Rush was no wild eyed amateur. He graduated Princeton with a degree in aerospace engineering and then worked on the F-15 program as a flight test engineer. He founded OceanGate in 2009.

RUSH: At some point, safety is just pure waste. I mean, if you want to be safe, don't get out of bed. Don't get in your car. Don't do anything.

At some point, you're going to take some risk. And it really is a risk/reward question. I said, I think I can do this just as safely by breaking the rules.

WATT: Onboard Titan just last November, he explained his maverick methods to CBS News.

RUSH: We can use these off-the-shelf components.

I get this from Camper World. We run the whole thing with this game controller.

WATT: As a child, Rush dreamed of going into space.

REISS: He wanted to be an astronaut. When he did not become an astronaut, he set his sights down below.

WATT: He called it the deep disease in an interview with "Smithsonian" magazine and said he explored the deep for the future of humanity.

RUSH: If we trash this planet, the best lifeboat for mankind is underwater.


WATT (on camera): Now, Stockton Rush was born into a wealthy California family. He was a lifelong swashbuckling adventurer but he was not just there for the glamour and the glory. You know, he got his hands dirty. During the development of Titan, Rush was the chief test pilot.

I have just been messaging with Guillermo Sohnlein who was his cofounder, the cofounder of OceanGate. Guillermo told me that for the maiden mission, Guillermo offered to go down as the copilot. Stockton Rush said, no, he did not want to risk the lives of anybody else on that mission -- on that test mission.

Now, listen, he spent a life of hijinx up in the air, under the ocean. His luck finally ran out at age 61 -- Erin.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you very much. It is sobering. It does give you a sense that this was not something

they did for tourists. This was done out of a deep passion, out of a commitment, out of a commitment to explore and to map the bottom of the whole earth with -- Paul-Henri Nargeolet, right, had been doing this -- was known as Mr. Titanic, 35 times down to the Titanic, right, a person from exploring the ocean was an area of deep passion. He was also on board.

And his stepson John Paschall joins me now.

John, I am so sorry for your loss , just hearing about your stepfather over these past few days from so many who knew him and worked with him, saying at least he is down there. If they are trying to conserve that last air, he would know what to do. There was no one else they would rather be down there with.

What do you want the world to know about your stepfather?

JOHN PASCHALL, STEPSON OF PAUL-HENRI NARGEOLET WHO WAS ON SUB: First off, thank you, Erin, for having me.

I think that -- you know, it's so easy to look at the accomplishments he has done under the surface, right? In terms of everywhere in the ocean and everywhere he has gone. It is an incredible list and frankly, it would take multiple shows on CNN to encompass everything.


PASCHALL: There is so much more to PH, as we know him. He was an incredible stepfather to me. You know, stepfathers are sometimes a difficult situation, right? You want to be respectful of everyone in the family and you don't want to shake things up.

He was that and more. He was such a big part of my life when I met him, until his last day. We always kept in touch. I was planning on seeing him in a couple of weeks. I had seen him in May, but he meant so much. He was so caring.

An incredible sense of humor, too. I think anyone who meets him knew that he was a prankster. But he had so many great jokes, so many great stories. We could spend all night talking and listening to everything he's done in his life.

BURNETT: And you talk about him in your life. I know that you met him in high school. It was your freshman year of high school and you shared a couple pictures of -- with us of you and him.

One from 2016 when he became a U.S. citizen. Obviously, an important moment. You say he was very proud of that. Then, at your college graduation in 2014. He drove with your mom across the country to get there to see you.

Tell me more about that moment.

PASCHALL: Yeah. That moment will forever stand out to me. My mom and PH were planning on flying out to my graduation in Chicago. I believe it was the night before the ceremony and, unfortunately, due to weather, their flight got canceled and they could not rebook until sometime later in the afternoon and they would have missed the ceremony completely.

I am an only child. This was a huge moment for my mom. We were graduating from the same school.


So, she was completely devastated watching the flight got canceled.

Well, here comes Commander Nargeolet, right, and they hop into their small, blue mini Cooper and they drive 16 hours across the country from Connecticut to Chicago, drive through the night. I am quite certain that he did a lot of the driving, but they showed up with one hour to spare for graduation. They made it there.

At that time, my mom was very sick of cancer and meant so much to me that she could be there for that moment. That is something I will never forget about him.

BURNETT: Well, it shows the quality of the human being that he was.

I know that that exploration was a passion for him, right? Nearly 35 dives, more than 35 dives to the Titanic alone, 5,000 artifacts he oversaw the recovery of. I know that he obviously told you weeks ago he would be going on this trip and nothing would ever seem routine in doing this, but something that you have done 35 times, right, he knew what he was doing.

Did you ever worry? Did you worry every time that something like this could happen? Had it become sort of that this is just what he does.

PASCHALL: Yeah. I think that is how I approached it. He was just so comfortable in the water, so comfortable in the submersibles. You know, I believe he has been in even smaller submersibles than this before going down deep into the deepest parts of the ocean.

Not once did I ever worry and ask about any safety precautions or anything. I trusted him. As much of a risk taker as he is, as you have to be being a deep-sea explorer, I know that he would, you know, be very careful in terms of the positions he would put himself in. But no, once I found out about this trip, I never thought, you know, I needed to do any kind of safety check with him. I trusted that --


PASCHALL: -- everything would be okay.

BURNETT: Well, John, I appreciate your taking the time and telling that story -- that story of him driving the blue mini Cooper I think will certainly stick with me and I hope with many. Thanks for sharing just a little bit of him and I am sorry for your great loss.

PASCHALL: Thank you, Erin. I appreciate it. BURNETT: Well, next, our coverage continues. I'm going to speak to a

doctor who specializes in treating patients with these extreme conditions like this. Why he said that the passengers here likely did not suffer.

Plus, Ukraine says Russia is planning to launch a terrorist attack at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.



BURNETT: Tonight, the Coast Guard unable to give a clear answer about when or at the passengers remains on the sub could be recovered.


MAUGER: This is an incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the seafloor. The debris is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel. And so, we'll continue to work and continue to search the area down there but I don't have an answer for prospect of this time.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Dr. Ken Ledez. He's a specialist in treating patients in extreme conditions and deep-sea divers. He is also a hyperbaric medicine expert that Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland.

And, Dr. Ledez, obviously, Newfoundland, you may have found a different story to be talking about today. We all had hoped it would be that way, but I want to start here with the implosion. Catastrophic implosion, that's what we're hearing about, right?

Everyone has been thinking for days, right, where these people are suffering and fear, trying to preserve the oxygen, trying to survive for rescue but now they are saying this catastrophic implosion likely led to the deaths of the five people on board. What you think happened?

DR. KEN LEDEZ, HYPERBARIC MEDICINE DIRECTOR AT MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY: Honestly, once the implosion occurred, there would have been a very, very rapid increase in pressure that these individuals were exposed to. That would have had two main effects.

The pressure of the nitrogen actually has a very powerful narcotic, an anesthetic. Anyone who is a diver knows that the deeper you go, the more narcotic and impaired you get just from the nitrogen in the air. So, it would have been a very rapid increase in the nitrogen pressure in the peoples' brain and it would have been like a massive anesthetic overdose to be honest. It would have been instant loss of consciousness for that reason.

The second thing that would have happened is that all of the body cavities and spaces that contained air, they would have been crushed instantaneously from the massive pressure. At that depth, we are talking about an excess of 360 atmospheres. So, all of the air spaces would have basically been crushed flat very, very quickly.

So, what are the consequences of that? The chest cavity itself would have been compressed instantaneously with that pressure. That would have stopped any return of blood to the heart and would have caused a cardiac arrest immediately. So, because of that, this was not a prolonged experience. It probably did not even have any opportunity, even to be aware of drowning or any sense whatsoever. It would have been extremely quick. I mean, the need to breath (ph) and sorry about that.

BURNETT: No, no, I think everyone -- everyone watching -- what you are describing sounds horrific but thank God, right, if they didn't know and it just happened so fast.

Just to understand, earlier we were talking about a pinprick, right, could have started it. Who knows exactly how it did. We don't know how it started but it could have obviously instantaneously become systemic, right? So, would there have been any warning is what I am asking you? Is there any way that they would have known or foreseen it coming? You know, had an awareness that death was coming or no?

LEDEZ: You have to wonder if there was some kind of structural failure going on, whether they might have heard some creaking or cracking. I think that is possible but once the structure was breached, that massive pressure, you know, up to 360 atmospheres, the inrush of water would have been extremely fast. At that pressure, the gas would be so dense that they would be unable to breathe it in. But in any case, the narcotic effect of the nitrogen would have instantaneously made them unconscious and their chest would have been crushed straight away and they would've had cardiac arrest, no question.

BURNETT: And would not have felt that.

All right. Well, thank you so much, Doctor. I appreciate that. And, you know, sobering and sorrowful, but I think, right, we can all say, thank goodness that they wouldn't have known. Thank you.

LEDEZ: Thanks.

BURNETT: And next, much more on the search for answers in the implosion of the Titan. Plus, Ukraine now claiming Russia is planning to launch a terrorist attack at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe -- nuclear power plant.

And another Republican candidate jumping in the race to beat Donald Trump. So, is this all just handing the nomination to Trump instead?



BURNETT: Tonight, President Zelenskyy alleging Russia may launch a terrorist attack, those are his words, involving what he says would be radiation leakage at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. It is the largest nuclear plant in all of Europe.

The Kremlin, of course, dismissing this as a lie. It comes as Vladimir Putin's top propagandist says Russia should attack Ukraine with a tactical nuclear weapon after a bridge to Russian-occupied Crimea was significantly damaged by a missile strike.


VLADIMIR SOLOVYOV, RUSSIAN STATE TV HOST (through translator): We have a superiority in tactical nuclear weapons, but maybe it's enough already.


Maybe we should just pound them and be done with it.


BURNETT: Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT tonight.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Russian state television news of the latest Ukrainian strike, punching through a key bridge to Crimea. A military supply route, the anchor says, which Ukraine hit with missiles to cut off.

Instead of hiding the bad news, Russia is using it to bolster support. The Kremlin-appointed governor of occupied Kherson was quickly at the scene to condemn the attack and blame the West.

It's another senseless act by the Kyiv regime at the behest of London, he says.

But it will make no difference to the result of the special military operation, what Russia calls its war.

Along the vast front lines in Ukraine, a much-anticipated counteroffensive is seeing fierce but limited fighting. Some Ukrainian officials are pushing back hard, though, on Western assessments to CNN that expectations are not being met.

One senior Ukrainian official telling CNN it's still way too early to assess the overall trajectory of what the official says was shaping operations. The real counteroffensive, the official told CNN, has not even begun yet in earnest.

Still, the Russian military is taking credit for holding Ukrainian forces back, releasing dramatic images of what they say are enemy positions being pounded and characterizing the Ukrainian push as unsuccessful.

The Kremlin, though, is sounding an unusual note of caution.

Ukraine's offensive potential has not yet been exhausted, the Russian president warns his defense officials. Its strategic reserves, he says, have not all been activated.

It is a recognition of what Ukrainian officials also insist. This battle may be slow, but it is far from over.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Kyiv.


BURNETT: Also tonight, former congressman and CIA officer, Will Hurd, becoming the latest Republican to jump in the 2024 race. Hurd is a frequent critic of Donald Trump, though he voted against Trump's first impeachment.

But for now, these -- let's look at our numbers from Harry Enten. It is an uphill climb for Hurd. And, by the way, for most other candidates to top Trump for the nomination.

Harry is OUTFRONT now.

So, Harry, for anyone looking to beat Trump, and they're all at sort of very, very low numbers with the exception of Ron DeSantis, who has failed to gain.


BURNETT: What are the biggest comebacks in the history of presidential primaries?

ENTEN: Yeah, I think that this graphic sort of gives you an understanding of what an uphill climb these candidates have who are not named Donald Trump. If you look at the biggest comebacks, George McGovern had the biggest one back in 1972. You can see, he came back from a 28-point deficit.

The only other two that were 15 points or above were Obama who came back from a 15-point deficit and Jimmy Carter who came back from an 18-point deficit in '76. And what I should point out, with the exception of DeSantis none of those candidates besides him are anywhere close to the biggest comebacks ever.

BURNETT: Right, right. If you gave them those percentages they wouldn't get there.

ENTEN: They wouldn't get there.

BURNETT: OK. So it was not long ago there were just a few Republicans running, a handful, right? Everybody took a while to get in. Everyone was waiting to see what would happen with Trump, whether he'd start to fade.

How unusual is it to have this many people, I mean, a lot, when you have someone who is so far ahead?

ENTEN: It's very unusual. The only two other candidates who are not incumbents who are polling about 50 percent in the primary at this point were Al Gore back in 2000 and Hillary Clinton back in 2016. And if you look at the number of candidates who were in the races back then, it was six in 2016 and two in 2000. We're up to 12 now. That's more than one side of a football team. The offense is 11 players. So we are beyond that.

This is very unusual. And it's just not anything I've seen before.

BURNETT: I mean, it is really amazing. We're in such unprecedented territory. So let's talk about DeSantis because he's the only one where if you actually gave those numbers could at least theoretically, right, pass Trump.

Is having this large field of competitors helping or hurting right now? When you put all of it together. When it comes to Trump, right? I mean, I guess if you add them all together --

ENTEN: If you add them all together, look, you can't just add them all together and face them up against Trump because Trump is going to win some of those people who are voting for Ron DeSantis.

BURNETT: That's right, fair.

ENTEN: But if you do look at the polling that matches up Trump against the entire field versus Trump just versus DeSantis you do see when you only poll Trump and DeSantis, Trump's lead does fall by eight points.

So, it does seem to me that Trump is being helped by this larger field. If the race does in fact get closer than it is right now, I think that DeSantis would very much like those other Republicans to get out of the race.

BURNETT: Yeah. Well, we'll see what happens.

All right. Thanks very much, Harry Enten.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And thanks very much to all of you for being with us.

"AC360" starts now.