OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who was killed in the Titan tragedy, only launched the extreme tourism venture so he could fund his obsession with the Titanic, a person who nearly booked passage on the doomed sub claimed.
Las Vegas financier Jay Bloom told The Post in an exclusive interview Thursday that he backed out of paying $500,000 for two tickets aboard Titan over safety concerns raised by his son, whom he was planning to take on the voyage.
“[Rush] wasn’t really looking to build a tourism business to the Titanic,” Bloom said. “He wanted to research and document the decay of the ship over time.”
“Multiple dives to the site costs a lot of money. A way to finance his scientific observation was to bring observers down with him,” Bloom added.
Titan’s implosion on June 18 killed all five aboard: Rush, 61, British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58, French Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, as well as 48-year-old Pakistani billionaire Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son, Sulaiman.
Bloom shared text message conversations between himself and Rush on Facebook from back in February as he considered purchasing two seats on the sub for himself and his 20-year-old son, Sean.
Bloom shared with Rush that his son was “concerned about the danger” of the trip after researching the “perceived threats to the vessel.”
Bloom suggested a sperm whale or a giant squid could attack the sub and compromise the hull.
“Yeah very stupid the pressure is over 100 million pounds no sperm whale or squid is ever going to be able to mess with the sub,” Rush replied.
Another red flag for the dad was there was no training ahead of his scheduled sub trip.
“Just climb through the hatch and get in,” he told The Post.
As far as gear, passengers weren’t allowed to wear shoes inside the sub. .
Despite Bloom’s claims that Rush wasn’t interested in hosting extreme tourists, OceanGate’s website certainly touts the journey to the Titanic as a worthwhile investment.
“You’re invited to dive with us,” its website says, touting the $250,000 ticket price as inclusive of one submersible dive, private accommodations, all required required training, expedition gear and all on-board meals.
The submersible had made two previous voyages to the Atlantic Ocean seabed to observe the shipwrecked liner before its doomed final trip.
Rush used cost-effective shortcuts to build the 21-foot vessel, which became the target of much scrutiny after the disaster.
While Rush’s use of off-the-shelf components made it seem like OceanGate was strapped for cash, Bloom said Rush used bargain parts because he’s “of the mindset that his industry is extremely overengineered.”
“In the name of safety, [Rush believed] a lot of money is being wasted,” he added.
Thus, instead of upgrading Titan’s parts to pass manufacturers’ regulations, Rush rejected many of the safety concerns as “wrong” and “someone else’s opinion,” according to Bloom.
It has also been revealed that Rush was on a “predatory” hunt, looking for wealthy clientele to support his costly deep-sea sub trips to the Titanic, according to an industry expert Patrick Lahey, the president of Triton Submarines.
“He could even convince someone who knew and understood the risks … it was really quite predatory,” Lahey added.
In fact, when Rush was urging Bloom to partake in the voyage over text, he described Titan as “way safer than flying in a helicopter or even scuba diving.”
“One decision, and that would have been our picture,” he told The Post.
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