Titan submersible would have ‘collapsed in milliseconds’ and killed passengers instantly, expert says

Former Oceangate consultant left company after raising concerns at ‘reckless’ approach

William Mata
Saturday 22 July 2023 13:51 BST
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Missing Titanic submarine: What happened to the Titan tourist submersible?

The Titan submersible, which imploded on a deep sea mission last month, is likely to have “collapsed in milliseconds” and killed its five member crew instantly, an expert has said.

Former OceanGate consultant Rob McCallum said the blast on June 18 would have been so powerful that the crew would not even have known they were in danger.

Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood, Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and Stockton Rush were onboard the OceanGate craft, which was on a trip to explore the Titanic wreckage.

Mr McCallum worked with Mr Rush’s company OceanGate early on in the development of the project but had concerns the Titan was a “ticking time bomb”.

“The whole volume of a submersible collapses in about two milliseconds,” said Mr McCallum of the likely effects on the craft at 12,500ft.

“And it takes 25 milliseconds for the human brain to detect a threat… It’s not so much that you die, it’s that you cease to exist. It’s almost the perfect end.”

Five people were killed when the submersible imploded last month
Five people were killed when the submersible imploded last month (PA Media)

The Titan lost contact with its mothership, the Polar Prince around 9.45am and around eight hours after losing contact, OceanGate Expeditions reported it missing to the coast guard.

Mr McCallum told Sixty Minutes Australia that he left OceanGate after becoming alarmed at what he saw as the “completely reckless” approach to its missions.

Shahzada Dawood, Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Stockton Rush, and Hamish Harding
Shahzada Dawood, Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Stockton Rush, and Hamish Harding (AP)

“[They] were diving in something which really was a ticking time bomb,” he said

“I can’t say that from a technical standpoint I was surprised. That’s why we tried so hard to prevent it.

The site of the submersible launch
The site of the submersible launch (PA/WEF/AP)

“They were so proud of flaunting the accepted norms, and if you’re going to flaunt an accepted norm you really need to know what you’re doing and I wasn’t convinced that that level of expertise was there.”

He added that it was “great fun” for OceanGate to break world records but these “don’t count” if the crew does not make it back.

Inside the submersible
Inside the submersible (BBC)

“That is such a toxic culture when it comes to safety and it’s the reverse of everything I know in the maritime industry.”

Karl Stanley, a former friend of Mr Rush - who was interviewed by 60 Minutes Australia on Sunday, added that the craft was a “mousetrap for billionaires”.

OceanGate has suspended its operations.

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