Summer 2023: The Titan submersible, aliens and more

Reading Time: 4 minutes Here is a recap of three popular news stories you may have missed over summer vacation.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

While school may have been out of session, there was no vacation for headline-dominating news stories. Here are three you may have missed. 


In June, shortly after the UVU summer semester began, five daring men embarked on a journey to explore the wreckage of the Titanic. The OceanGate submersible, Titan, was responsible for transporting the five men over 13,000 feet below the surface.  

According to the New York Times, the five passengers included the founder of OceanGate, Stockton Rush, 61; British businessman and explorer Hamish Harding, 58; a French maritime expert, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77; and wealthy Pakistani father-and-son duo Shahzada; and Suleman Dawood, ages 48 and 19, respectively.  

ABC News reported that the Titan submersible lost contact with the parent ship about one hour and 45 minutes into its initial dive. Soon after contact was lost, the submersible was not found. Operators and rescuers were under pressure, as the Titan was notably equipped with enough oxygen to only last 96 hours.   

The voyage had a grasp on headlines all over the world. Several news sites such as ABC News and CNN provided live updates and information about the voyage, while others provided investigative details on the OceanGate company and unearthed information regarding the safety and reliability of the Titan submersible.  

On June 22, The Independent posted the full statement provided by OceanGate that confirmed the death of all five men aboard the Titan.  

People turned to social media platforms such as TikTok, X, Instagram and Facebook using #OceanGate and similar tags to post their thoughts, conspiracies and ideas regarding the situation.  

Several people are under the impression that there was more to consider with the OceanGate incident and have launched their own research into the tragedy and the events that led to it. Last week, Christopher Claflin, known on TikTok and other media sites for his investigative and informative storytelling approach, posted a video that detailed the timeline of events on the OceanGate sub as more information has emerged. Watch that video here.  

Wait, so what’s the deal with aliens? 

On July 26, three former military officials were given a platform to speak in Congress under oath about their knowledge and experience regarding unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs).  

One witness and former U.S. intelligence official, David Grusch, announced that he is “absolutely” sure that the federal government is in possession of UAPs.  

Grusch informed the congressional panel that he was a leader in a Department of Defense (DoD) attempt to analyze reported sightings of UAPs. During his time with the Department, he learned of the Pentagon’s “multidecade” program to recover and reconstruct crashed UAPs. He could not officially disclose his experience but did heavily imply that non-human biologics were found in some of the UAPs they retrieved.  

In addition, he asserted that he has knowledge of misappropriated funds within certain government units in regard to UAPs that exist “above congressional oversight.”  

In some cases, Grusch could not fully disclose information to answer certain questions the panel asked in an open session, such as those regarding the treatment of individuals within government programs he was a part of. However, he hinted that he also knows of people who have been threatened, injured, or even killed for their knowledge of UAPs.    

Ryan Graves, a second witness who testified at the hearing, was a former Navy pilot. He explained that military personnel and pilots are not adequately briefed on UAPs and many feel unprepared to respond to encounters which he claims happen frequently. Graves also noted that many pilots — military and commercial — are silenced and fear “personal repercussions.”  

The third testifier was former Navy commander David Fravor, who filmed an encounter with a “white Tic Tac shaped” object off the coast of San Diego, California, in 2004. He described the phenomena he witnessed and explained that he and his team concluded the technological feats they witnessed were “far superior to anything that we had.” 

Although the hearing itself did not conclude whether or not the experiences these witnesses had were verified and truthful, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon spoke to TIME Magazine shortly after the testimonies and said the DoD “has not discovered any verifiable information to substantiate claims that any programs regarding the possession or reverse-engineering of extraterrestrial materials have existed in the past or exist currently. The Department is fully committed to openness and accountability to the American people. … DoD is also committed to timely and thorough reporting to Congress.”  


For all those UVU students from the southern region of the Golden State, you’re probably well aware of the tropical storm that passed through last weekend.  

California was put into a state of emergency on Friday, Aug. 19, as headlines warned citizens of the deadly Hurricane Hilary making its way up the coast. The hurricane was a notable event, as it was the first tropical storm in California to make landfall since 1939

It was predicted that the hurricane would bring record-breaking rain. Since Southern California is dry and drought-ridden, heavy rains condensed into a short time can lead to severe flash flooding and landslides, Brian Ferguson, the deputy director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency, told CBS News on Monday.  

People in California didn’t let the weather stop them from their usual activities. The Orange County Register (OCR) reported that residents were gearing up with wetsuits and surfboards as they saw an opportunity to catch the waves brought on by the tropical swell.  

People flocked to the Wedge, a popular surf spot in Newport Beach, where the swell was producing overhead sets up to eight feet tall. Tom Cozad, a photographer in Newport Beach told the OCR on Tuesday, “It was the best conditions you could have for a hurricane swell.” 

Those who weren’t at the beach enjoying the waves were posting videos to social media as cars towed them up and down flooded streets on surfboards.  

As if the abnormal weather wasn’t enough for SoCal residents to endure, citizens were rattled by a 5.1 magnitude earthquake that struck four miles outside of Ojai, which is just east of Santa Barbara. The initial quake struck on Sunday at 3:41 p.m. PST, and according to KTLA 5 News, several smaller aftershocks were reported, although no serious injuries were sustained from any of the shaking events.  

Following the quake, some social media users rebranded the strange weather events as the “hurriquake,” and #Hurriquake was trending on X soon after. Many used the tag to voice their thoughts. Some posted memes to find humor in the situation, while others enjoyed the play on words, like the official X account for Merriam-Webster which tweeted “‘Hurriquake’ is a new one for us, too.”   

Sunshine has since returned to Southern California, and luckily, according to live updates provided by The New York Times, as of Monday, no hurricane-related deaths have been recorded in the region.