Titanic submersible maker faced dire warnings. Experts urged OceanGate to have its craft certified, an advice it refused to take.

YEARS before OceanGate's submersible craft went missing in the Atlantic Ocean with five people aboard, the company faced several warnings as it prepared for its hallmark mission of taking wealthy passengers to tour the Titanic's wreckage.

It was January 2018, and the company's engineering team was about to hand over the craft - named Titan - to a new crew who would be responsible for ensuring the safety of its future passengers.

But experts inside and outside the company were beginning to sound alarms.

OceanGate's director of marine operations, David Lochrifge, started working on a report around that time, according to court documents, ultimately producing a scathing document in which he said the craft needed more testing and stressed ''the potential dangers to passengers of the Titan as the submersible reached extreme depths.''

Two months later, OceanGate faced similar dire warnings from more than three dozen people -industry leaders, deep-sea explorers and oceangraphers - who wrote in a letter to its chief executive, Stockton Rush, that the company's ''experimental'' approach and its decision to forgo a traditional assessment could lead to ''catastrophic'' problems with the Titanic mission.

A spokesman for OceanGate declined to comment on the five-year-old critiques from Mr. Lochridge and the industry leaders. Nor did Mr. Lochridge respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Lochridge reported learning that the viewport that lets passengers see outside the craft was certified to work in depths only up to 1,300 meters, or 4,300 feet.

That is far less than would be necessary for trips to the Titanic, which is nearly 4,000 meters below the ocean's surface.

The World Students Society thanks authors Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jenny Gross and Anna Betts.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!