OceanGate Expeditions founder and CEO Stockton Rush admitted last year that his biggest fear while conducting tourist trips to the Titanic was being stuck under the ocean aboard his own submersible.
Speaking with journalist David Pogue, whose TV feature went viral following Titan’s disappearance on Sunday, Rush claimed there are no safety concerns regarding his sub.
However, that didn’t mean the CEO was fearless when it came to the nearly 13,000-foot dives to the shipwreck.
“What I worry about most are things that will stop me from being able to get to the surface,” he said. “Overhangs, fish nets, entanglement hazards. And, that’s just a technique, piloting technique.
“It’s pretty clear — if it’s an overhang, don’t go under it. If there is a net, don’t go near it. So, you can avoid those if you are just slow and steady.”
It remains unclear if the very thing Rush feared befell the Titan, which disappeared less than two hours after it submerged on Sunday morning. OceanGate said the sub is equipped with 96 hours of oxygen, with the supply expected to run out on Thursday.
During the December 2022 interview with CBS, Rush also defended his assertion that the sub was safe despite Pogue’s repeated questions about the issue.
“You know, at some point, safety just is a pure waste. I mean, if you just want to be safe, don’t get out of bed,” Rush said. “At some point, you’re going to take some risk, and it really is a risk/reward question. I think I can do this just as safely by breaking the rules.”
In the report, Pogue noted that before embarking on the trip, the waiver included language that made it clear that Titan was an “experimental vessel” that had not been “approved or certified by any regulatory body, and could result in physical injury, emotional trauma or death.”
Along with the CBS reports, previous interviews with Rush have surfaced where he appeared to downplay safety concerns about trips to the Titanic with his company’s vessel.
He told the Smithsonian Magazine in 2019 that the US submarine industry’s “obscenely safe” regulations had been holding back his “innovations.”
And in 2018, members of the Marine Technology Society collectively warned OceanGate that its experimental designs could lead to “catastrophic” results that could impact the entire industry.
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