I still remember watching the movie Titanic in the Movie theaters in 1997 at the age of ten. It was riveting. It was scary. It was a two-hour-long cinematic adventure that shook everyone in that theater! The allure and curiosity about the Titanic have existed since the unsinkable ship sank. The curiosity and interest in exploring the famous sunken ship have remained strong. We want to explore it even more as we become more technologically advanced.
Tragedy has struck once again as an OceanGate Inc vessel, ironically named “The Titan,” carrying two crew members and three passengers, went missing on Sunday, June 18th, 2023, in the Atlantic Ocean, some 435 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. As of Tuesday, June 20th, no contact has been made, and massive search and rescue teams have been deployed to find the missing vessel.
The Coast Guard has dispatched a pair of C-130 Hercules planes to scour the water’s surface in search of the submersible. They have been joined by a Canadian C-130 and a P8 aircraft, which boasts advanced underwater sonar capabilities. Additionally, sonar buoys are being deployed in the vicinity to aid search efforts.
The individuals who have been identified among the passengers include Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, British billionaire Hamish Harding, French diver Paul Henry Nargeolet, as well as Shahzada Dawood, a prominent businessman from Pakistan, accompanied by his son Suleman.
This situation is tragic and dire. However, OceanGate has been criticized for its lack of safety protocols and regulations for years. It’s almost like an accident was waiting to happen, and that day has indeed come, and it might cost five people their lives.
What is OceanGate Inc
OceanGate Inc., established in 2009 by Stockton Rush, is a private company specializing in manned submersible operations and developing innovative marine technologies. Based in Everett, Washington, the firm’s vision is to make the mysteries of the deep more accessible to human exploration and study. Despite its ambitious goals, OceanGate has faced criticism over the years regarding its safety standards. Industry insiders and former employees have raised concerns about the company’s operational practices, suggesting they don’t meet the rigorous safety standards typically associated with deep-sea exploration.
These critics argue that the company has often prioritized expeditions and technological development over ensuring the highest levels of safety for their crew and preserving underwater environments. Safety in submersible operations is paramount, given the inherently high-risk nature of deep-sea exploration. The concerns include the following:
- The structural integrity of OceanGate’s submersibles.
- The reliability of their safety equipment.
- Their emergency response capabilities.
- While OceanGate has maintained its commitment to safety and disputes these claims, the industry consensus underscores a need for more transparency and adherence to globally recognized safety protocols.
All the concerns raised held some serious validity as we now see the consequences of OceanGate’s negligence, and five lives are at severe risk. When reading about the OceanGate vessel that has gone missing, please remember that it cannot technically even be called a submarine. The OceanGate vessel is a submersible vessel as it doesn’t hold the standards or structure of an actual submarine.
Why Regulations Matter
One of the most upsetting things about this situation is that this was an entirely preventable incident. OceanGate was warned in 2018 by the Marine Technology Society that they had unanimous and significant concerns about the safety of their vessels. OceanGate responded that innovation often falls outside of the industry standard paradigm. This is a huge red flag that the vessels OceanGate created were not up to any industry standard for construction or safety.
We have seen this in a lot of other industries. Often when you have someone willing to pay a lot of money for an experience or an object, a company will cut corners because they don’t want to take the time it takes to meet certain industry requirements in order to be safe. They would rather protect their bottom line and be the first to hit the market as the grandiose, unique new must-have thing.
Major Construction Issues
A former Navy admiral related this vessel to like a “kit car” built from Amazon parts. The lighting fixtures allegedly came from a camping store, and some of the Vessels parts were allegedly used from salvaged metal pipping.
CCTV cameras were used as the Vessel camera system. Closed Caption T.V. Cameras are some of the most dated surveillance and camera systems you can get. I utilized CCTV systems in 2010 when I was working undercover security. Even in 2010, they were considered to be old, and they were incredibly faulty.
If you are wondering how it’s being controlled, it’s similar to the last time you played a video game. The actual controller is an off-brand modified PlayStation controller. That controller is supposed to get deeper than the U.S. Navy’s current submarines. The vessel was built so that you cannot get out of it once you are in it. The passengers and crew are literally bolted in from the outside, raising major fail-safe and rescue concerns.
The Consent Form
Much of the information stated above came from reporter David Pogue, who joined the OceanGate vessel for an exploration journey last year in November 2022. He raised many concerns, from the vessel itself to the makeshift equipment. A video of Pogue preparing to get on the vessel and read part of the consent form to his camera crew has now gone viral. The section of the form he read states:
“A Metal submersible vessel that has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body and could result in physical injury, disability, emotional trauma or death.” He then nervously joked, “Where do I sign!”
The Search and Rescue Mission
The Coast Guard has launched two C-130 Hercules aircraft to comb the ocean’s surface in their relentless pursuit of the lost submersible. Their efforts are bolstered by adding a Canadian C-130 and a P8 aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art sonar technology for underwater detection. To further optimize the search, sonar buoys are strategically positioned in the surrounding area.
Even with significant recourses being utilized globally, many issues come with this search and rescue mission. Finding them would be the first and second tasks, which is even more harrowing. Not many submarines or rescue vessels can go to the depths of the Titanic or the ocean floor near the Titanic, where the Titan vessel may be, approximately 12,500 feet below sea level.
So once the first task is accomplished and the vessel is found, they need to retrieve the vessel from where it is and do so immediately. With the passengers only having about 40 hours of Oxygen left, it is a big undertaking. Just as only a few submarines or rescue vessels can reach 12,500 below sea level, it is unknown if it was found at that depth or could be retrieved. There are many scenarios of where the Titan vessel can be, and each comes with its own set of problems.
As mentioned above, the passengers bolted into the Titan’s vessel from the outside. So even if they are floating on top of the ocean, they cannot let in Oxygen. And if rescue finds them, they need to be able to retrieve the vessel and open it in time. And time is not on the passenger’s side.
Just Because You Can Doesnt Mean You Need to Do
Any life lost is a tragedy, rich or poor. But something must be said for the most elite people in the world doing things or extreme activities just because they can. Many people have taken to social media to express what they would have done with the $250,000 each passenger paid for the OceanGate vessel experience. Many comments include people expressing their struggle to keep food on the table and get adequate housing. Meanwhile, the ultra-rich are participating in costly life-risking behavior for fun. Some people even relate this situation to the new movie “The Menu.” The movie’s premise is that only the richest in the world can get into this one restaurant on a deserted Island with a world-renowned chef for the experience of a lifetime. All the guests except one because they ended up not being rich and replaced a rich guest as an escort was killed during the meal.
Greece Migrant Boat Disaster
The OceanGate vessel’s disappearance is coming from the heels of the Greece migrant boat disaster that occurred last Wednesday, June 14th, 2023. In this most recent devastating incident, an overcrowded fishing trawler off the coast of Greece has claimed the lives of over 300 Pakistani nationals. This tragedy is a stark reminder of the refugee crisis that the European Union is grappling with, as tens of thousands of individuals flee their home countries in search of safety and protection from the ravages of war, persecution, and poverty.
Unsurprisingly, there is a massive discrepancy in the search and rescue for these two incidents. It has been reported that so many deaths occurred from that capsized boat because there was a lack of timely rescue response. Many people slammed the refugees for even attempting such a mission. But let us not forget that a crew of wealthy individuals paid $250,000 EACH to attend a vessel mission to the Titanic and signed waivers explaining that they were risking their lives.
Every life matters.
Our Obsession With the Titanic-A Brief History
The Titanic, an awe-inspiring vessel of unprecedented luxury and size, was destined to etch its name into history as a tragic symbol of hubris and human frailty. This colossal ship, deemed unsinkable by its designers and hailed as the pinnacle of modern engineering, embarked on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City on April 10, 1912. Throngs of passengers from different walks of life gathered on the ship’s decks, their hearts aflutter with anticipation and dreams of a brighter future.
Among them were the wealthy elites, ensconced in opulent cabins adorned with lavish decorations, indulging in the finest cuisines, and basking in the ship’s luxurious amenities. On the other end of the social spectrum were the hopeful immigrants, clutching tightly to their aspirations of starting afresh in the land of opportunity.
The Titanic sliced through the tranquil waters of the Atlantic, her sheer magnificence leaving all who beheld her in awe. However, destiny had other plans. On the night of April 14, disaster loomed in the form of an iceberg, lurking silently in the ship’s fateful path. Despite receiving warnings of icebergs in the vicinity, the Titanic forged ahead at an unprecedented speed, confident in her invincibility.
Suddenly, the iceberg materialized out of the darkness, scraping along the ship’s starboard side, leaving a trail of devastation. The Titanic’s mighty hull, believed to be impervious, was mortally wounded, and panic began to grip the hearts of those onboard. The crew sprang into action, striving desperately to save the souls entrusted to their care.
As the chilling reality set in, the order was given to deploy lifeboats, but they were woefully inadequate to accommodate the vast number of passengers. Women and children were given priority, while many brave men, resigned to their fate, chose to remain behind. The band played on, their haunting melodies providing solace amidst the chaos and despair. As the ship’s grandeur slowly succumbed to the relentless embrace of the frigid waters, the harrowing cries of anguish and the silent prayers of the doomed filled the air. In the early hours of April 15, 1912, the mighty Titanic plunged beneath the surface, taking with her the dreams, aspirations, and lives of over 1,500 people.
News of the Titanic’s tragic demise reverberated worldwide, igniting profound grief and disbelief. The scale of the disaster exposed the inadequacies of maritime safety regulations and spurred significant changes in shipbuilding and navigation practices. The International Ice Patrol was established to monitor iceberg activity in the North Atlantic, while the adoption of stricter safety measures became the cornerstone of future seafaring endeavors.
The story of the Titanic continues to captivate the imaginations of generations, serving as a cautionary tale of human arrogance and the fragility of technological prowess. The wreckage of the Titanic, resting deep in the ocean’s embrace, has become a haunting monument to the souls lost that fateful night, a reminder that even the mightiest of creations can be humbled by the unforgiving forces of nature. In the annals of history, the Titanic remains an enduring symbol of the indomitable human spirit and the tragic consequences of overconfidence.
Its legacy reminds us that no matter how invincible we may believe ourselves to be, we must always respect the power and unpredictability of the world around us. This includes how invisible OceanGate felt its vessels were.
- Expedition 1965 – U.S. Navy and French explorer Jacques Piccard: The first attempt to reach the Titanic was by the U.S. Navy in partnership with French explorer Jacques Piccard in 1965. However, the journey was fraught with difficulties; treacherous currents, unimaginable water pressure, and unreliable technology conspired against them. Unfortunately, they failed to reach their elusive target. Still, their effort wasn’t in vain as they opened the way for further exploration and advancements in deep-sea technology. The flame of curiosity sparked by this expedition paved the way for future successes.
- Expedition 1985 – Robert Ballard and Jean-Louis Michel: On September 1, 1985, a joint American-French expedition led by oceanographer Robert Ballard and Jean-Louis Michel made the breakthrough. The team used an unmanned submersible named Argo, equipped with powerful lights and cameras, to scan the ocean floor. After weeks of tense searching, they spotted debris that led them to the wreckage of the Titanic, 12,500 feet beneath the North Atlantic. The moment was thrilling and haunting as the ship’s ghostly remains appeared on their screens, lying in two sections about a half-mile apart. This expedition captured stunning, never-before-seen images of the Titanic, bringing its tragic story back into the public consciousness.
- Expedition 1986 – Ballard’s Return: Less than a year after his initial discovery, Ballard returned to the Titanic with a new vehicle, the Alvin. Equipped with a remotely operated vehicle called Jason Jr., they explored the wreck more thoroughly. They documented the ship’s luxurious interiors, including the teak handrails, the grand staircase, and the chandeliers, miraculously intact despite the ravages of time. The ghostly images of the doomed ship caught the world’s imagination and underlined the grave importance of preserving this underwater heritage site.
- Expedition 1991 – IMAX Filming Expedition: In 1991, an IMAX team led by Dr. Joe MacInnis embarked on the first filming expedition to the Titanic. Their groundbreaking documentary, “Titanica,” allowed the public to see the legendary ship in stunning detail. It was an exhilarating journey, fraught with danger, as they navigated the debris field surrounding the vessel. The chilling underwater footage of the wreck offered an unprecedented perspective on the Titanic’s scale and grandeur, forever etching its haunting beauty in viewers’ minds.
- Expedition 2000 – RMS Titanic Inc.: At the turn of the millennium, RMS Titanic Inc., the official salvor-in-possession of the wreck, conducted an extensive expedition. Using state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and sonar technology, they surveyed and documented the entire debris field, discovering thousands of artifacts. This expedition was tinged with melancholy as they observed the ship’s slow decay due to the corrosive effects of the sea, raising questions about the preservation of such historical sites.
- Expedition 2005 – History Channel Expedition: In 2005, a History Channel expedition led by John Chatterton and Richie Kohler discovered the remains of Titanic’s boilers, propellers, and some uncharted debris. During the expedition, they uncovered evidence that a design flaw might have contributed to the ship’s sinking, adding another dimension to the ongoing discussion about the disaster. This expedition provided fresh insights into the tragic event and gave viewers an unforgettable journey into the depths of the Atlantic.
- Expedition 2010 – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: In a 2010 expedition, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution created the first comprehensive map of the Titanic wreck site. The team spent weeks scanning and photographing the wreckage and debris field using sonar imaging and high-resolution optical imaging. Their efforts resulted in a detailed, 3D archaeological map of the site that revealed the full extent of the wreckage spread over 15 square miles. This map provided a unique spatial context to the Titanic wreck, giving scientists a new understanding of the disaster and its aftermath.
- Expedition 2012 – RMS Titanic’s Centenary: Marking the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, RMS Titanic Inc. launched an ambitious expedition to assess the ship’s condition and create a long-term preservation plan. Scientists used cutting-edge technology, including 3D cameras and remotely operated vehicles, to document the site extensively. The footage captured was converted into a 3D model of the wreck, providing an extraordinary view of the Titanic as it lies today. This expedition ignited public interest and sparked debates about salvage rights and conservation.
- Expedition 2019 – Atlantic Productions: In 2019, a team from Atlantic Productions conducted the first manned dive to the Titanic in nearly 15 years. The divers observed that the ship was rapidly deteriorating due to strong ocean currents, metal-eating bacteria, and salt corrosion. Using specially adapted cameras, the team captured 4K footage of the wreck, which was then used to create ultra-high-definition images for further study and documentation. This expedition was a stark reminder of the ship’s impermanence and the race against time to document and preserve its legacy.
- Expedition 2023 – The Virtual Titanic Project: In a daring and unprecedented project in 2023, a multinational team of scientists, archaeologists, and virtual reality experts embarked on a mission to bring the Titanic back to life. The project aimed to create a full-scale, immersive V.R. experience of the ship, using footage captured during the expedition. The thrill of seeing the Titanic ‘revived’ and virtually ‘intact’ once again was unmatched. This novel approach allowed millions worldwide to explore the historic ship in its former glory, making the Titanic more accessible than ever before.
The Outcome is Looking Bleak
It is always best to remain positive and hopeful in situations like these. It’s also important to be realistic. Many former navy seals have reported to New outlets that only three things could have realistically happened at this point. Those three things include:
The OceanGate vessel reached its last depth, and once communication was lost, there may have been a leak in the vessel. If a vessel leaks at that depth, the craft and all human life in it will essentially implode. This is also why safety and standards are paramount when creating a vessel like the submersible vessel OceanGate.
The OceanGate vessel made it to the Titanic and got stuck inside. The vessel may have also gotten stuck on something, such as a large fishing net or anything obstructing the ocean’s depths.
They either made it to the surface and are floating, awaiting rescue, or at the bottom of the ocean floor awaiting rescue. When the vessel became lost it only had 72 hours of reserved oxygen before it would be void of breathable air. They have approximately 38 hours left of breathable air as of the time of writing this.
Remember that this vessel is quite literally bolted from the outside. They couldn’t get out if they were floating on top of the ocean if they wanted to. There is no fail-safe, so it’s been even more imperative to find them promptly. And unfortunately, there aren’t even many submarines or rescue boats in the world that can even reach the depth of the Titanic.
Often the fantastic videos we have now on YouTube of the sunken ship are from a remote-operated vehicle being handled by a submarine or ship higher in the ocean. It is not people at that depth getting those images with a camera.
An Avoidable Tragedy
As we draw this discussion to a close, the poignant and alarming events unfolding in the deep waters of the Atlantic act as a stark reminder of the human quest for exploration, thrill, and understanding. This quest is undoubtedly noble but should never come at the cost of human lives.
The deep sea has an inherent allure, mysteries, and secrets that have been captivating us for centuries. The ill-fated Titanic exemplifies this allure, and now again, with the tragic disappearance of OceanGate’s vessel. It is a tale of two tragedies separated by time but linked by a common thread—the ocean’s unfathomable depths. But, as we delve deeper into this latest catastrophe, it brings to light serious concerns about the sanctity of human life, the ethics of high-risk adventure tourism, and the unchecked pursuit of commercial advantage at the expense of safety.
In the most unfortunate way, OceanGate’s shortcomings in adhering to industry-standard safety measures have been brought to the fore. A preventable tragedy has been allowed to occur, underlining the urgent need for stringent regulation and oversight in deep-sea exploration. These industries must prioritize human lives over profits and safety over the thrill of exploration.
This incident also bears the stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots. The sheer audacity of spending $250,000 for a potentially life-threatening experience, juxtaposed with the desperate fight for survival by refugees braving treacherous seas for a shot at a better life, is a glaring commentary on our world today.
The value of life is not a commodity to be exchanged based on wealth or status. While the rescue efforts for the OceanGate vessel continue, it is disheartening to note the discrepancy in attention and resources compared to the migrant boat tragedy in Greece. We must remember that every life holds equal value, whether a billionaire on an adventure or a refugee seeking sanctuary. Ultimately, the sea doesn’t differentiate between the wealthy thrill-seekers and the desperate migrants. It treats all with the same unyielding power and unpredictability. It is up to us, as a society, to prioritize safety, equity, and value for all lives.
The case of OceanGate serves as a cautionary tale, a somber reminder of the need for responsible exploration and the unforgiving nature of the deep sea. We still hope all five passengers and crew aboard OceanGate’s Titan will be found and rescued. As we venture further into the unknown, let us remember to prioritize safety and human lives above all else. Because, in the end, every life matters.
Stay tuned for updates.