The highly publicized Titan submersible, which grabbed headlines in late June, has been the subject of a recent riveting investigation by ’60 Minutes Australia.’
The ill-fated tourist submersible, carrying paying tourists eager to witness the sunken remains of the legendary Titanic, had five people on board. One of them was OceanGate’s co-founder and CEO, Stockton Rush.
Fellow tourist submarine operator and friend of Rush, Carl Stanley, opened up about his experience aboard Titan during its test dives back in 2019. His recollections were nothing short of unsettling, especially as he said that he believed Rush was “designing a mousetrap for billionaires.”
Stanley recalled hearing jarring, gunshot-like noises every three to four minutes, an alarming sound to encounter at such depths and in a vessel that had only been taken to such depths once before.
Expressing his concerns about the carbon-fiber hull, Stanley engaged in heated exchanges with Rush when he tried to raise the alarm. He believed the loud noises were a worrisome indicator, and he conveyed to Rush that the problem would only escalate with time.
Stanley also questioned Rush’s lack of operating experience, but his attempts to highlight the issues fell on deaf ears. “I literally painted a picture of his wrecked sub at the bottom [of the ocean], and even that wasn’t enough,” he recounted to ’60 Minutes’.
It became apparent that Stanley was not alone in his apprehensions. According to the investigation, numerous members of the maritime community had their own reservations about Rush’s venture.
Rob McCallum, who had previously led a Titanic submersible expedition, told the programme that when safety concerns were raised, not only were they ignored, but the individuals voicing them were also silenced.
McCallum described this as a toxic safety culture, entirely different to what he knew about the maritime industry.
Stanley went a step further, suggesting that Rush may have had a death wish. He accused Rush of jeopardizing both his own life and the lives of his customers for the sake of fame and historical recognition. Stanley said: “He was risking his life and his customers’ lives to go down in history. He’s more famous now [for this] than anything else he would have ever done.”
Amidst the revelations, Guillermo Söhnlein, co-founder of OceanGate, stepped forward to defend his business partner. He portrayed Rush as risk-averse, adding: “I feel like as co-founder I do have to stand up for the fact that I feel that what we were doing was right and was heading in the right direction.”
The ’60 Minutes Australia’ investigation into the Titan submersible has shed light on a tale of safety concerns, heated exchanges, and the pursuit of historical significance.
As the details continue to unfold, the full impact of this ill-fated voyage remains to be seen.
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