The Simpsons writer who went on Titanic submarine says he’s ‘not optimistic’ about rescue mission

Mike Reiss went on three expeditions with Titan’s owners and ‘almost always lost communication’ on the submarine

Tom Murray
Wednesday 21 June 2023 08:08 BST
Janet Street-Porter questions 'morality' of Titanic submarine tourism

Mike Reiss, a writer and former showrunner on The Simpsons, has said he’s “not optimistic” about the ongoing mission to rescue the missing tourist submarine after taking the trip himself last year.

The submersible known as Titan, which is intended to explore the wreckage of the sunken ship Titanic, has been missing with five people on board in the Atlantic Ocean since Sunday (18 June).

It was expected that the emergency oxygen supply on the vessell would run out by 1pm on Thursday (22 June).

Follow live updates here.

“I know the logistics of it and I know how vast the ocean is and how very tiny this craft is,” he told BBC Breakfast on Monday (19 June).

“If it’s down at the bottom I don’t know how anyone is going to be able to access it, much less bring it back up,” he added.

Reiss explained that he had gone on three different dives with the company OceanGate Expeditions, which owns Titan, and that they “almost always lost communication”.

“I got on the sub and at the back of my mind was ‘well, I may never get off this thing,’ that’s always with you,’ he said.

Reiss said that Titan is “a beautifully designed craft”; however, the nature of the expedition makes problems possible.

Titan submarine and Mike Reiss on ‘BBC Breakfast’

“This is not to say this is a shoddy ship or anything, it’s just that this is all new technology and they’re learning it as they go along,” he said.

Amazon Prime logo

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up
Amazon Prime logo

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

“You have to just remember the early days of the space programme or the early days of aviation, where you just make a lot of mistakes on the way to figuring out what you’re doing.”

The five people onboard the Titan are British billionaire explorer Hamish Harding, renowned French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Sulaiman Dawood, and Stockton Rush, the founder of OceanGate Expeditions.

A ticket for the Titanic experience costs around £195,000 ($250k).

The Titan is equipped with a four-day emergency oxygen supply, which is thought to have run out at around 1pm on Thursday (22 June).

On Tuesday’s edition (20 June) of the ITV chat show Loose Women, Janet Street-Porter questioned the “morality” of submarine tourism.

“I don’t want to appear heartless, but I do think that the people who are on board will have understood the risks,” she said.

“Because this kind of trip is a new kind of tourism which we’ve seen in space trips and now underwater trips and people scaling the highest mountains in the world. Only the richest people in the world can afford this kind of tourism.

“... Let’s hope that people don’t put their lives in danger trying to rescue them too, because they’re people doing a job that they’re paid a lot less money for doing,” she said.

You can follow along with the latest updates on the rescue here.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in