The Titan submersible from OceanGate has been confirmed to have met with catastrophe. Since the incident, more and more damning evidence has come to light, suggesting the submersible was nowhere near as safe as advertised. Writer/director and long-time deep diver James Cameron had been worried about Titan’s construction from the get-go.
Cameron referred to the vessel as “too experimental,” saying it was “completely irresponsible to take passengers on board” down to the wreck of the Titanic. In an interview with U.K.’s Times Radio, OceanGate co-founder Guillermo Söhnlein responded to Cameron’s criticisms. All of them fairly wishy-washy.
“In this kind of community, there are completely different opinions and views about how to do things, how to design submersibles, how to engineer them, build them, how to operate in the dives,” Söhnlein said. “But one thing that’s true of me and the other experts, is none of us were involved in the design, engineering, building, testing or even diving of the subs. So it’s impossible for anyone to really speculate from the outside. I was involved in the early phases of the overall development program during our predecessor subs to Titan, and I know from firsthand experience that we were extremely committed to safety and risk mitigation was a key part of the company culture.”
It Could All Have Been Avoided
This seems like nothing more than deflection. Everything about the sub was disconcerting to many in the deep-sea diving community. When asked about getting the sub regulated, Söhnlein deflected again. “The regulations are pretty sparse and many of them are antiquated or designed for specific instances, so it’s kind of tricky to navigate those regulatory schemes.” The reality is that OceanGate should be held accountable for this disaster. And Cameron believes it could have been avoided were it not for the hubris of its makers.
“People in the community were very concerned about this sub. A number of the top players in the deep submergence engineering community even wrote letters to the company, saying that what they were doing was too experimental to carry passengers and that it needed to be certified,” Cameron told ABC News. “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. For us, it’s 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 it’s just astonishing. It’s really quite surreal.”
Cameron went on to mourn the death of Paul-Henri “PH” Nargeolet, who was aboard the craft. The diving community is a fairly small one, and Cameron had known Nargeolet for 25 years. Cameron himself has made Titanic dives 33 times. He has been to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench in the Deepsea Challenger sub, releasing a documentary about the adventure. We think it’s safe to say that if the man who’s need for accuracy took him down to the Titanic several times says a sub was concerning, it might have behooved many to listen.