100% Knew This Was Going To Happen': Previous Passengers Recall Horrors Of Ill-Fated Titan
The Titan was touted as a groundbreaking submersible that could give tourists the extraordinary chance to visit the deep-sea grave of the Titanic — but past passengers have shared chilling accounts of safety issues, communication failures and design concerns.
Chilling accounts of previous Titan passengers
Some described Stockton Rush, the OceanGate Expeditions CEO who died on the fatal trip this week, as a meticulous planner, while some called him an overconfident pioneer.
In the wake of the Titan’s fatal implosion near the Titanic shipwreck on Sunday, some people who embarked on the company’s deep-sea expeditions described experiences that foreshadowed the tragedy and look back on their decision to dive as “a bit naive.” But others expressed confidence and said that they felt they were “in good hands” nearly 13,000 feet (3,962 meters) below the ocean’s surface.
"100% knew this was going to happen"
“I 100% knew this was going to happen,” said Brian Weed, a camera operator for the Discovery Channel’s “Expedition Unknown” show, who has felt sick to his stomach since the sub's disappearance last Sunday.
Weed went on a Titan test dive in May 2021 in Washington state's Puget Sound as it prepared for its first expeditions to the sunken Titanic. Weed and his colleagues were preparing to join OceanGate Expeditions to film the famous shipwreck later that summer. They quickly encountered problems: The propulsion system stopped working. The computers failed to respond. Communications shut down.
Rush, the now deceased OceanGate CEO, tried rebooting and troubleshooting the vessel on its touch screens. “You could tell that he was flustered and not really happy with the performance,” Weed said. “But he was trying to make light of it, trying to make excuses.”
Following the aborted trip, the production company hired a consultant with the U.S. Navy to vet the Titan. He provided a mostly favorable report, but warned that there wasn’t enough research on the Titan’s carbon-fiber hull, Weed said. There also was an engineering concern that the hull would not maintain its effectiveness over the course of multiple dives.
“I felt like every time (the vessel) goes down, it’s going to get weaker and weaker. And that’s a little bit like playing Russian roulette.”
"You even know you could die"
Mike Reiss, a writer for “The Simpsons” television show, also dived with OceanGate to view the Titanic wreck site.
“You just become a different kind of person. You even know you could die and it doesn’t bother you.” Reiss said he did notice some issues with the Titan, although he wasn’t sure everything was a glitch.
For instance, the communications didn’t always work, like a cellphone losing service. The Titan’s compass also started “acting frantically” when they got to the ocean floor near the sunken Titanic.
“I don’t know if that’s an equipment failure or because magnetism is different two and a half miles down,” he said.
"Rush was a I’m going to do it my way sort of guy"
Arnie Weissmann, editor in chief of Travel Weekly, never rode in the Titan despite spending a week aboard its support ship in late May, waiting for the weather to clear. He briefly climbed into the submersible, but the dive was ultimately cancelled.
Over cigars one night, Rush told Weissmann that he got the carbon fiber for the Titan’s hull at a big discount because it was past its shelf-life for use in airplanes, Weissmann said.
But Rush reassured him it was safe. “I really felt there were two Stockton Rushes,” Weissman said. “There was the one who was a good team leader and efficient and getting the work done. And there was this cocky, self-assured, others be damned, ‘I’m going to do it my way’ sort of guy. And that’s the one I saw when we went out the back of the boat and had our cigars.”