On June 19, news outlets announced that a 21-foot submarine dubbed Titan – owned by OceanGate Expeditions – submerged on its way to the Titanic wreckage last Sunday morning. Unfortunately, the Polar Prince research ship's crew lost contact with the submersible an hour and 45 minutes later. It was carrying five passengers (two of whom were billionaires) who paid $250,000 for the voyage. The CEO of OceanGate, Stockton Rush, was also on board.
U.S. Coast Guard alerted mariners about the missing sub on Sunday night. The vessel was lost in a location approximately 900 miles off Cape Cod, at a depth of about 13,00 feet. But as of Tuesday afternoon, the sub had less than 40 hours of breathable air left. Unfortunately, the passengers would still be trapped even if the sub miraculously found its way to the surface.
CBS correspondent David Pogue said he traveled on this same submarine last year. He revealed that there is no way for individuals inside it to escape – they're sealed shut, and only an external crew has the ability to remove the bolts. To make matters worse, a modified video game controller controls the submersible. "There are a couple of touchscreen PC monitors on the floor of the sub, but there are no controls," Pouge tells BBC. "The multi-million sub is controlled with a games controller."
He later added, "There's no backup, there's no escape pod – it's get to the surface or die." Today, it was announced that the people on board only have about 20 hours of breathable air left. The U.S. Coast Guard reported that "noises" were heard yesterday and this morning. While the search crew is hopeful these sounds could be coming from the sub, others have stated that they could be anything. One expert described the ocean as "a very complex place," and Carl Hartscille of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution added, "It's really difficult to discern what the source of those noises are."
What Caused Titan To Disappear?
The deeper I look into this mess, the more morbid it gets. The Simpsons writer Mike Reiss, who also traveled aboard Titan last year, revealed that you have to sign a chilling waiver that apparently mentioned death three times. “You sign a waiver before you get on that mentions death three different times. They’re learning as they go along … things go wrong. I’ve taken three different dives with this company, and you almost always [lose] communication," Reiss explained.
CBS reporter Pogue echoed this, stating the waiver reads, "This experimental vessel has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body, and could result in physical injury, emotional trauma, or death." While I acknowledge that these documents exist as a means of self-protection for businesses, the implications of this particular waiver sound rather unsettling. The company in question seems to possess a certain level of awareness regarding the potential flaws or defects associated with their sub.
This theory is definitely plausible once you realize that the CEO of OceanGate – Stockton Rush – possibly hired inexperienced submarine operators. In an interview from two years ago, Rush disclosed the details of his organization and revealed that he hired younger individuals. "There are other sub-operators out there, but they typically have gentlemen who are ex-military submariners, so you'll see a whole bunch of 50-year-old white guys. I wanted our team to be younger, to be inspirational," he said.
It doesn't stop there. There are only 10 submarines in the entire world that can go 4,000m and deeper (the Titanic is at a depth of 3,800m), and all of these vessels are certified – except OceanGate. In 2018, leaders in the submarine industry wrote a letter from the Marine Technology Society to OceanGate to warn them of "catastrophic" issues with the vessel's development. The individuals who signed, including oceanographers, explorers, and executives, expressed "unanimous concern" with OceanGate's decision to disregard further evaluation and testing. Then, in 2019, the business defended its decision not to have it examined by an external evaluator. Their excuse was that the marine accidents were due to "operating error," not because of "mechanical failure."
“As a result, simply focusing on classing the vessel does not address the operational risks," the blog post reads. "Maintaining high-level operational safety requires constant, committed effort and a focused corporate culture – two things that OceanGate takes very seriously and that are not assessed during classification.”
That same year, Rush ironically proclaimed that there haven't been any injuries in the past three decades in the sub space. “There hasn’t been an injury in the commercial sub industry in over 35 years. It’s obscenely safe, because they have all these regulations,” he stated. “But it also hasn’t innovated or grown – because they have all these regulations.” Again, these glaring red flags existed for years and were ignored, and it's unfortunate Rush had to learn the hard way.
People Say the Passengers in the Submarine “Deserve To Die”
After people learned how expensive it is to trap yourself in an enclosed space to reach remarkable depths, they’ve given their most honest – and cruelest – opinions. “Billionaires deserve to die 2 miles under the sea, 5 feet in front of you, in space, over here, over there, anywhere,” wrote @Forever_noir on Twitter. “We don’t deserve the effects billionaires purposefully cause for profit yet we do.”
Imagine this: You’re nearly 4,000 meters from the surface, floating in an abyss. You and the other passengers in this small capsule realize that your submarine has gone missing. The first 24 hours feel dreadful, but the second day feels like an eternity. You’re hungry and thirsty. Feeling trapped is an understatement. Panic surges through your veins, and you find yourself frantically searching for a way out, only to realize that there is none. All your cries dissipate into the void, so you wrestle with the torrent of uncontrollable emotions until you’re sober enough to realize that the worst-case scenario is going to happen – that you’ll probably die soon. This is what I imagine these so-called "heartless billionaires" are experiencing at this moment.
It’s unfathomable to think that individuals could scoff at the Titan passengers who are going through what I can only describe as agonizing torment. These people have no empathy. They must not have any humanness left in them. I understand that the whole notion of “eating the rich” is representative of the class divide present in our society, but is it an excuse to lack empathy? Perhaps their behavior could be explained by our culture, which is undoubtedly a breeding ground for contempt.
I get why people who are struggling would despise the rich – it’s estimated that a little over 700 billionaires possess more wealth than the bottom half of American households. Yet, blaming them for personal circumstances, and laughing at their deaths, will not offer a solution or contribute to your personal growth. Say you did hate them; what will you do about it? The same people I’ve seen critique billionaires have yet to do something tangible; they just tweet all day and criticize their every move. The angry posts they write distract them from the actions they could be taking to improve their own lives. Let's be frank: Sitting down, tweeting, and getting dopamine hits from likes is much easier than creating a business or working hard. At the end of the day, all of this incessant vitriol against wealthy people is meaningless, and it only desensitizes others to cruel deaths.
People will make dumb decisions, I admit that – but they’re human, they make mistakes and misjudge situations. But those who have to face the consequences of their poor choices don’t necessarily have to be laughed at, especially when they’re already dead or dying. In the end, these passengers, they have names: Stockton Rush, Hamish Harding, diver Paul Henry Nargeolet, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman. They were curious, they wanted novelty, but they trusted a broken system. They flew too close to the sun and perished.
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