James Cameron, the director of the 1997 blockbuster movie “Titanic,” has drawn parallels between the Titan submarine disaster and the sunken Titanic, calling it “surreal,” and pointing to safety concerns regarding the recent incident.
“I’m struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself, where the captain was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship and yet he steamed at full speed into an ice field on a moonless night and many people died as a result,” Cameron said in a June 23 interview with ABC News. “And for a very similar tragedy, where warnings went unheeded, to take place at the same exact site, with all the diving that’s going on all around the world, I think is just astonishing. It’s really quite surreal.”
Cameron pointed out that “many people in the community were very concerned” about the Titan sub. In addition, several top people from the deep submergence engineering community wrote letters to OceanGate, warning that “what they were doing was too experimental to carry passengers.”
The Titan submersible was reported overdue on Sunday afternoon while on a trip to explore the sunken Titanic ship in the North Atlantic Ocean. A search and rescue attempt followed but did not yield any positive results. On Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it had found a debris field near the wreckage of the Titanic.
At a press conference, Coast Guard Admiral John W. Mauger revealed that the Titan submersible was a “catastrophic implosion” which was “consistent with catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber” inside the craft. The five passengers inside the sub are presumed dead.
Titan’s trip to the Titanic wreckage was led by OceanGate Expeditions. At the time of the explosion, the sub was carrying OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, Paul-Henry Nargeolet, a leading expert on Titanic, Shahzada and Suleman Dawood, a wealthy father-son duo from Pakistan, and Hamish Harding, a businessman and adventurer from Britain.
“These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans,” OceanGate said in a statement on June 23. “Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time.”
Titan’s Critical Safety Issues
Cameron is not the first to raise concerns about OceanGate’s operations. Back in 2018, David Lochridge, who used to be the company’s Director of Marine Operations, had warned about the safety of the Titan vessel.
According to U.S. court documents (pdf), Lochridge identified “numerous issues that posed serious safety concerns.” He “primarily expressed concern regarding the lack of non-destructive testing performed on the hull of the Titan.”
Lochridge insisted that OceanGate conduct non-destructive testing of the experimental hull and hire an agency like the American Bureau of Shipping to inspect and certify the Titan submersible.
“Rather than address his concerns or undergo corrective action to rectify and ensure the safety of the experimental Titan, or utilize a standard classification agency to inspect the Titan, OceanGate did the exact opposite—they immediately fired Lochridge. OceanGate gave Lochridge approximately 10 minutes to immediately clear out his desk and exit the premises.”
One of OceanGate’s first customers, Arthur Loibl, a 61-year-old retired businessman and adventurer from Germany, recently revealed that his dive in the sub was akin to a “kamikaze operation.”
Loibl had gone down to visit the Titanic wreckage in OceanGate’s sub back in 2021. The experience was plagued by several challenges, he told the Associated Press.
The dive was delayed multiple times due to a battery issue. The voyage ended up lasting 10.5 hours. During the 2.5-hour descent and ascent, lights in the sub were turned off to conserve energy.
“Imagine a metal tube a few meters long with a sheet of metal for a floor. You can’t stand. You can’t kneel. Everyone is sitting close to or on top of each other,” Loibl told the outlet. “I was a bit naive, looking back now … It was a kamikaze operation.”
From The Epoch Times