Doomed OceanGate Titan's Poor Pre-Mission Trial Results Revealed

By Jason Hall

July 10, 2023

Photo: Getty Images

The "experimental" OceanGate Titan submersible was reported to have only reached the depth of the Titanic wreckage it was intended to observe during 14% of its trial attempts, according to a waiver obtained and reviewed by Insider.

The vessel, which imploded and killed all five passengers last month, was reported to have reached 3,800 meters "as few as 13" of the 90 attempted dives, according to a four-page liability waiver signed by a would-be passenger, which referred to the submersible as "experimental" three times.

Last week, documentary cameraman Brian Weed, who was present during a test dive, told that CEO Stockton Rush gave a chilling comment regarding death prior to his own eventual demise when he and another colleague joined the billionaire aboard the submersible during a test dive in Puget Sound while working on Expedition Unknown for Discovery Channel in May 2021 when. Weed said he asked Rush what would happen if they had to surface due to an emergency and weren't near the vessel's mother ship.

"Well, there's four or five days of oxygen on board," Weed claims Rush told him. "And I said, 'What if they don't find you?' And he said, 'Well, you're dead anyway."

Rush was among five people killed after the Titan submersible imploded last month. A probe has been launched by the Titanic foundation into whether the billionaire misled French diver Paul-Henry Nargeloet about the safety of the submersible the New York Post reported last month.

RMS Titanic Inc. president Jessica Sanders described Rush as a "cavalier guy" after reviewing whether the organization should have allowed Nargeolet to board the submersible, which Rush claimed was "way safer than flying in a helicopter or even scuba diving" or "crossing the street" prior to his demise. The foundation is currently reviewing records related to the Titan submersible -- which was used during a mission to explore the wreckage of the Titanic -- and is now questioning whether Rush intentionally lied about its safety.

“We have now our own internal questions about the representations [OceanGate] made that we made the basis on giving PH the OK to go,” Sanders told the Post. “We’re going back and looking at that now ourselves internally, because there were representations not only made to us, but made to the court, that now we have to go back and verify because of these stories that are coming up that question them.”

The first photos of the wreckage from the OceanGate 'Titan' submersible were obtained and shared by TMZ on June 28.

The photos were taken as crews unloaded pieces of the ship from the Horizon Arctic ship in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, and appear to include the black landing gear from the base of the submersible. OceanGate Expeditions had previously confirmed that all five passengers onboard "have sadly been lost" in a statement released June 22.

“We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost,” the company said in a statement obtained by CNN. “These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans. Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time. We grieve the loss of life and joy they brought to everyone they knew.”

A debris field was discovered by a remote-operated vehicle in the search for the submersible, the United States Coast Guard's Northeast branch announced prior to the company's statement.

"A debris field was discovered within the search area by an ROV near the Titanic. Experts within the unified command are evaluating the information," the agency tweeted.

OceanGate Expeditions' 'Titan' sub was reported to only have 96 hours of oxygen prior to exceeding that total last month. The Coast Guard confirmed that a remote-operated vehicle used in the search had "reached the sea floor" and looking for the vessel.

“The French vessel L’Atalante is preparing their ROV to enter the water,” the Coast Guard added via the New York Post.

On June 21, a reported "banging" sound in the search for the missing submersible led to a "cause for hope," according to Richard Garriott, president of The Explorers Club.

A Canadian airplane aiding in rescue efforts for the submersible that disappeared while on a mission to explore wreckage of the Titanic reportedly detected "banging" in 30-minute intervals in the last area in which the vessel was reported to be when it lost radio contact with its surface ship, according to internal emails sent by the Department of Homeland Security's National Operations Center obtained by Rolling Stone.

“RCC Halifax launched a P8, Poseidon, which has underwater detection capabilities from the air,” the DHS e-mails read. “The P8 deployed sonobuoys, which reported a contact in a position close to the distress position. The P8 heard banging sounds in the area every 30 minutes. Four hours later, additional sonar was deployed and banging was still heard.”

The submersible -- which differs from a submarine as it relies on outside support, rather than renewing its own power and breathing air -- offered passengers an up-close experience to explore the Titanic wreckage in the Atlantic Ocean for $250,000 and was only the third mission hosted by OceanGate Expeditions since initially being offered in 2021.

The sub was reported to have less than 40 hours of oxygen remaining during an update on June 20.

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