CEO/Founder of OceanGate Ignored More than 38 Experts Warning Him of the Catastrophic Potential of the Titan: He Was ‘Unwilling to Pay’ for Safety Assessments
The Titan submersible remains missing after failing to return from the Titanic wreckage site on Sunday, July 18. The crew of five have less than 24 hours of breathable oxygen left on the vessel and search missions continue the frantic pursuit to find and rescue those onboard.
The most recent development in the search comes from the Boston Coast Guard, who lead the rescue mission. Sonar has picked up banging sounds in the search area which indicate that the members on the Titan are still alive. In the wake of this tragic incident, many questions have been raised about the safety of the expedition. How could a disaster of this magnitude have happened? We have the answers.
CEO and Founder of OceanGate Ignores Safety Concerns
Stockton Rush is one of the five members trapped on the Titan. He is the CEO and founder of OceanGate; the company responsible for the mission and submersible. As the CEO of the company and the pilot of the mission, he charged each member $250,000 for the excursion which they are now stuck on.
Since the Titan did not resurface on its presumed return date, Rush and the OceanGate company have come under fire for their neglect of safety protocols. Interestingly, Rush has declined the protocols recommended by experts starting years prior to this mission.
Growing Concerns and No Regulation
Back in January 2021, personnel began to sound the alarm bells regarding the lack of safety. The Director of Marine Operations at the time, David Lochridge, attempted to warn Mr. Rush that the “experimental approach” to the vessel could end in “catastrophic” problems with the Titanic exploration mission.
Unfortunately, his pleas for more testing were ignored and not long after he began to sound the alarm bells he was fired from his position. Mr. Rush did not have the Titan undergo ANY of the safety testing that Lochridge had recommended.
More than 38 Experts Had Weighed in On the Growing Concerns
Lochridge was not the only one that raised concerns about the Titan and the potential catastrophes that could happen if it did not undergo the right testing. 38 other experts in the submersible craft industry weighed in with the same opinion: the Titan was too experimental to undergo the mission to the Titanic.
All 38 experts expressed their distress regarding the lack of testing and forgoing of traditional assessments required of submersibles traveling to such deep areas of the ocean. Unfortunately, their grave concerns came to light with the current failed Titan mission.
Stockton Rush’s Response to Criticism
Not only did Mr. Rush forgo the traditional safety assessments, but he has spoken openly about his distaste for the regulations in the submersible industry. He stated in an interview that the “regulatory red tape” has prevented the industry from growing and thriving. Others argue that the “red tape” he speaks of are the regulations that keep people alive and well.
Lochridge expressed that Mr. Rush was “unwilling to pay” for the necessary assessments, which was why he argued against them. Lochridge and the other experts sent a letter to Mr. Rush to convince him to reconsider his refusal to have the Titan inspected by the agencies which do such work, but to no avail.
Other ‘Less Than Perfect’ Missions
This is not the first mission the Titan has taken. It has attempted to travel down to the wreck of the Titanic twice before and while the vessel did return on both trips, they were not without their own problems.
A couple from one trip is currently involved in a lawsuit against Mr. Rush. They assert that he owes them a combined $210,000 for the trip they paid for which never happened. Apparently they had bought a ticket for an expedition which was postponed many times and then never actually happened.
OceanGate Misleading its Clientele
In another disastrous Titan mission in 2021, the vessel experienced battery failure which resulted in exterior damage to the submersible. The technical difficulties forced the mission to be cut short and resurface.
Will Kohnen, the chairman of the committee which tried to convince Rush to perform more safety assessments, made the following statement: “Their plan of not following classification guidelines was considered very risky… and at minimum, misleading”.
Story Still Developing
The story continues to develop and the public watches on in hopes that there will be a successful rescue before oxygen runs out. In another trip to the Titanic Wreckage a few years back, a submersible got stuck in the propeller of the Titanic.
With less than 8 hours of oxygen in that vessel, the crew was successfully surfaced and all onboard were safe. One member of that expedition was science journalist, Dr. Michael Guillen. He has spoken out that his heart is broken for the 5 people on the Titan and hopes for a swift recovery, as do the rest of us.