It’s been two weeks since a submersible on a mission to visit the wreck of the RMS Titanic went missing, only to be later discovered to have imploded, killing five people, including a teenager who didn’t even want to go. the new yorker already has a long and comprehensive review of the design flaws, sketchy behavior and hubris that led to the tragedy. In short, a lot of corners were cut, including hiring college interns to design the doomed ship’s electrical system.
The piece unearths a 2018 article from the WSU Insider, the academic journal of Washington State University. In it, a former OceanGate intern brags about how his classmates were, while still in school, brought on board to work on a key part of a ship that should survive. to deep sea diving.
“The whole electrical system,” said the ex-trainee. “It was our design, we implemented it and it works.”
THE New Yorker the article painstakingly details how OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who died aboard the Titan, tried
to evade security measures by doing things like structuring the company’s operations so that they are outside US jurisdiction – and making sure they couldn’t be prosecuted if they accidentally killed people passengers:
In a legal filing, the company said the submersible was “under development and assembly in Washington, but will be owned by a Bahamian entity, registered in the Bahamas, and will operate exclusively outside United States territorial waters.” Although it’s illegal to carry passengers in an unclassified experimental submersible, “under US regulations you can kill the crew,” McCallum told me. “You get a little bit of trouble, in the eyes of the law. But, if you kill a passenger, you’re in big trouble. And so everyone was classified as “mission specialist”. There were no passengers – the word “passenger” was never used. Nobody bought tickets; they paid an amount of money set by Rush to one of OceanGate’s entities, to fund their own missions.
Throughout the development of the submersible that would later kill him, Rush stubbornly brushed off concerns that it was endangering lives, including his own.
“We have heard too often the unfounded cries of ‘you are going to kill someone,’” he wrote angrily to a colleague trying to prove him right. “I take that as a serious personal insult.”
Meanwhile, OceanGate is still announcing tours.
You can read the full New Yorker piece here.