The Titanic director and deep sea adventurer told ABC News that the OceanGates Expeditions vessel had on board warning systems that would likely have activated before the fatal blast.
Cameron has revealed that he knew top secret US Navy listening devices had detected an implosion near the search site on Monday, days before it was confirmed by defence officials.
He added that he had heard from “the community” that the Titan had dropped its ascent weights and was “trying to manage an emergency” when the implosion occurred.
“They probably had a warning that their hull was starting to delaminating and the hull was starting to crack,” Cameron told ABC News in an interview on Thursday.
“We understand from inside the community that they had dropped their ascent weights and they were coming up, trying to manage an emergency,” the filmmaker said.
“I think if that’s your idea of safety, then you’re doing it wrong.”
On Thursday, the US Coast Guard revealed that the five Titan crew members died in a “catastrophic implosion” soon after it lost contact with its support ship on a 4,000m dive to the Titanic shipwreck on Sunday morning.
OceanGate Expeditions CEO Stockton Rush, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, British billionaire Hamish Harding, and French adventurer Paul-Henri Nargeolet died in the tragedy. It’s unclear whether their remains will ever be recovered.
A US Navy confirmed on Thursday that acoustic detectors used to track enemy submarines had picked up the fatal blast on Monday.
“The U.S. Navy conducted an analysis of acoustic data and detected an anomaly consistent with an implosion or explosion in the general vicinity of where the Titan submersible was operating when communications were lost,” a senior official told The Wall Street Journal in a statement.
James Cameron explains why crew members were probably conscious of a crack in the submarine and tried to get back on surface moments before the implosion: #titan #titanic #Submersible pic.twitter.com/IIP1xgZXmM— Alessandra 🇮🇹 (@chi_seminavento) June 23, 2023
“While not definitive, this information was immediately shared with the Incident Commander to assist with the ongoing search and rescue mission.”
The US Coast Guard had emphasised that the mission was “100 per cent” a search and rescue mission throughout the week.
On Thursday morning, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) located pieces of debris from the Titan on the seabed 1,600ft (about 500m) from the bow of the Titanic wreck, Rear Admiral John Mauger, the First Coast Guard District commander, said.
Officials have not released any information about whether the Titan was trying to head back to the surface when it imploded.
In a separate interview with the BBC, Cameron described media focus on the submersible having 96 hours of oxygen supply, and that banging noises had been detected, as a “prolonged and nightmarish charade.”
“That was just a cruel, slow turn of the screw for four days as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “Because I knew the truth on Monday morning.”
Cameron, who became the first person to solo pilot a sub to the world’s deepest point, Challenger Deep, in 2012, has also raised safety concerns about the construction of the 22-foot Titan submersible.
In a 2021 interview, Mr Rush, the CEO and founder of OceanGate Expeditions, boasted about “breaking some rules” in order to build the sub.
“I think it was General MacArthur who said ‘You’re remembered for the rules you break’,” he told Mexican travel blogger Alan Estrada in the interview.
“You know I’ve broken some rules to make this (the Titan). I think I’ve broken them with logic and good engineering behind me.”
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