While "underwater noises" that were "described as banging noises" were mentioned during a Coast Guard news conference, the audio itself had not yet been released to the public. This fact called into question any online videos that claimed to feature the described sounds.
In June 2023, during the search for the Titanic submersible, TikTok and Twitter users shared videos that were said to feature an authentic audio recording of what was referenced during a U.S. Coast Guard press conference as "underwater noises" that were "described as banging noises" and had been detected by a Canadian aircraft.
However, there's no record of the Coast Guard ever releasing any such audio recording, a fact that immediately called into question any videos that claimed to feature the aforementioned sounds.
We reached out to both the Coast Guard and the Navy to ask further questions and will update this story should we receive any further details.
In this story, we'll run through a quick timeline of the incident and describe what officials have said regarding reports of any underwater noises. We'll also look at the audio clip that was going around on TikTok and Twitter, including revealing the source of one of the strange sounds that appeared in several of the videos.
June 18: Communication Lost
On June 18, the OceanGate Expeditions sub named Titan lost communication with the ship on the surface of the water, the Canadian research icebreaker Polar Prince. Five passengers were on board.
June 20: 'Banging'
Two days later, Rolling Stone published that a Canadian aircraft had "detected 'banging' in 30-minute intervals coming from the area where the divers disappeared." The reporting cited internal email updates sent by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Operations Center.
June 21: 'Underwater Noises'
On June 21, the sounds were detected for the second straight day and were first referred to during a U.S. Coast Guard news conference simply as "underwater noises." After an unidentified reporter asked a follow-up question, an official mentioned that the sounds had been "described as banging noises," according to The Associated Press:
Retired Navy Capt. Carl Hartsfield, now the director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Systems Laboratory, said the sounds have been "described as banging noises," but he warned that search crews "have to put the whole picture together in context and they have to eliminate potential manmade sources other than the Titan."
Hartsfield added that analyzing acoustic noises in the ocean is a "complex" process, and stressed that trained officials were still in the process of studying the recordings.
This moment from the news conference was reposted by CBS News on TikTok:
During the same press conference, Jamie Frederick of the First Coast Guard District in Boston remarked that he was not aware of the noises specifically occurring in 30-minute intervals, as earlier media reporting had said.
Additionally, during a GB News broadcast, an on-air host claimed that, "Sources close to GB News are now telling us that it was an SOS." This moment from the broadcast begins at the 19-second mark below:
June 22: Debris Found
Despite all of this, the story came to a tragic end on June 22 when the U.S. Coast Guard said that it found debris that indicated the sub had imploded, a catastrophic moment that would have quickly ended the lives of all people onboard.
After news broke that the sub was believed to have imploded, CBS News cited a U.S. Navy official who said that the military believed it may have detected the sound of the sub's implosion on June 18, the same day that it had lost contact with the surface and two days before the "underwater noises" were first reported.
Separate from the videos of "banging noises" that surfaced online, we also found a TikTok video that claimed to feature audio of the implosion itself. One video creator even falsely claimed that NBC News had broadcast this supposed implosion sound. However, there's no evidence of the Navy having released a recording of the implosion to the public.
'Banging Noises' Audio in TikTok Videos
As we've established, not in question was the fact that officials had mentioned that a Canadian aircraft had detected "underwater noises" in the vicinity of the search, sounds that were said to have been "described as banging noises."
However, what was in question was the authenticity of audio included in TikTok videos that claimed to feature these same "banging sounds."
One video that featured this audio had been viewed more than 12 million times in less than 24 hours.
The moment begins below at the 1:19 mark:
Another video that featured the audio in question claimed, "Here's the audio of the knocking sound they caught from the submarine. Can't imagine how they felt."
We were unable to find reporting from any reputable news sources that had featured this same audio from the videos, nor had U.S. or Canadian officials indicated that they released any audio of the sounds that had been described.
In a fact-check article, The Associated Press confirmed with a spokesperson for the Coast Guard that it had not released any such audio. Further, the reporting said that an unnamed ocean acoustics expert found that an audio clip circulating on social media did not sound authentic.
Analysis of the Audio
The audio that was included in the TikTok videos appeared to be nothing more than a short sequence of sound effects that had been edited together.
In the brief videos, audio of supposed sonar noises were followed by two different sounds of what seemed like loud banging on metallic objects. These sorts of sound effects are readily available on YouTube and other websites and could have been edited together quite quickly by anyone with a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
'Open the Noor' Meme
Some of the most viewed TikTok videos that featured this same questionable audio also included sound of a man talking. However, the vocals came from a meme.
"Open the Noor, also known as Open Na Noor, is a viral video taken on a Ring camera that shows a presumably drunk old man at a front door saying 'open the noor' when trying to say 'open the door,'" KnowYourMeme.com once reported.
Some of the videos featured a slowed-down version of the "open the noor" sound. According to the comments, some of the users appeared to believe this audio truly came from the search for the sub.
This story will be updated if any further details about the alleged sound recordings come to light.