It’s been more than 72 hours since contact was lost with OceanGate’s Titan submersible during its dive to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean to see the wreck site of the Titanic.
There was hope Wednesday that it could be located, after a Canadian military aircraft with underwater sonar capabilities picked up underwater sounds, described as banging, in the search area, though no other signs of the Titan were detected.
There are many questions about how the search is unfolding and the challenges faced in trying to find the Titan before its oxygen supply runs out. CBC News can provide some of the answers.
A submarine gone missing tends to be a gripping tale, as we can imagine almost anything happening. Maybe the hull perforated and it killed the passengers in microseconds. Maybe there was a fire onboard. Maybe they’re trapped at the bottom desperately awaiting help. Maybe they made a break for Mexico in coordination with the cartels.
Because we can’t find the sub, we can’t find the evidence either way. But in this case it’s pretty safe to say that they’re dead. That’s the conclusion that Aaron “Sub Brief” Amick, a retired USN sonar operator, came to.
I really feel terrible for all the families involved, because your family members are dead. And it hurts me to say that, but it’s the truth. And I hope this video helps give you some closure. Helping you know what probably happened.”
The video is eye opening in how poorly constructed the sub was. Carbon Fiber was chosen, despite having very unsafe stress characteristics (namely, it doesn’t slowly strain, then crack, like steel, but shatters suddenly). There did not appear to be any way to deal with a sudden fire onboard. The sub was controlled by a wireless game controller for some insane reason. There didn’t appear to be any way to scrub CO2 and other poisons out of the air, nor was the air system rigourously tested for the claimed endurance.
Perhaps most damaging of all was the CEO’s hiring philosophy.
Stockton Rush, Teledyne CEO:
When I started the business one of the things you’ll find, there are other sub operators out there that they typically have uh gentlemen who are ex military submariners. And you’ll see a whole bunch of fifty year old White guys.
I wanted our team to be younger, be inspirational. And I’m not going to inspire a sixteen year old to pursue marine technology. But a 25 year old who’s a sub-pilot or a platform operator, one of our techs, can be inspirational. So we’ve really tried to get, uh, very motivated intelligent individuals involved.
Because we’re doing things that are entirely new. We’re using approaches that are largely in the aerospace industry as related to safety and uh, some of the preponderance of checklists and things we do for risk assessments and things like that that are more aviation related than ocean related.
Gee, it’s almost like the other submarine corporations and government bodies hire those fifty year old ex-military White guys because competence is more important than inspirational ability. And it’s almost like the typical safety standards are different in aviation and submarining because you have an entirely different set of problems for when your submarine compresses like a tin can at the bottom of the ocean, versus losing an engine midflight.
Having an “uninspiring” White man like Aaron Amick involved with the company would probably have saved the sub from catastrophic failure. Amick says as much in his video, since at least some major flaws with the sub were obvious with a cursory glance from an experienced eye. What he didn’t know is that Teledyne had previously worked with an experienced former USN sub operator, but had fired him because he demanded that they do rigorous safety testing, and had told them that their design wouldn’t work.
Former OceanGate director of marine operations David Lochridge — one of those “50-year-old white guys” Rush wanted to avoid hiring for not being “inspirational” enough — was fired by Rush in 2018 after he reportedly blew the whistle on OceanGate by raising safety concerns over their first-of-a-kind carbon fiber hull and other systems.
They reference this TechCrunch piece.
David Lochridge was terminated in January 2018 after presenting a scathing quality control report on the vessel to OceanGate’s senior management, including founder and CEO Stockton Rush, who is on board the missing vessel.
According to a court filing by Lochridge, the preamble to his report read: “Now is the time to properly address items that may pose a safety risk to personnel. Verbal communication of the key items I have addressed in my attached document have been dismissed on several occasions, so I feel now I must make this report so there is an official record in place.”
The report detailed “numerous issues that posed serious safety concerns,” according to the filing. These included Lochridge’s worry that “visible flaws” in the carbon fiber supplied to OceanGate raised the risk of small flaws expanding into larger tears during “pressure cycling.” These are the huge pressure changes that the submersible would experience as it made its way and from the deep ocean floor. He noted that a previously tested scale model of the hull had “prevalent flaws.”
The issues with carbon fiber construction are valid and serious. However, the claim that the viewport was only rated to a depth much less than the rest of the submersible is, if true, astonishing.
A day after filing his report, Lochridge was summoned to a meeting with Rush and company’s human resources, engineering and operations directors. There, the filing states, he was also informed that the manufacturer of the Titan’s forward viewport would only certify it to a depth of 1,300 meters due to OceanGate’s experimental design. The filing states that OceanGate refused to pay for the manufacturer to build a viewport that would meet the Titan’s intended depth of 4,000 meters. The Titanic lies about 3,800 meters below the surface.
In fairness to Teledyne, the manufacturer refusing to certify the forward viewport to a much lower depth upon learning of the sub’s overall experimental design is somewhat ambiguous in terms of its meaning. We know that the sub had previously descended to around 4,000 meters, so clearly it could at least occasionally get much deeper than 1,300 meters. Nevertheless, it’s not a good look to be covering this up and firing your experienced employees for blowing the whistle on this.
The filing also claims that hazardous flammable materials were being used within the submersible.
Lochridge, who claimed he was discharged in retaliation for being a whistleblower, made his filing after OceanGate sued him in federal court in Seattle that June. OceanGate has accused him of sharing confidential information with two individuals, as well as with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In the lawsuit, OceanGate characterized Lochridge’s report as false, and accused him of committing fraud by manufacturing a reason to be fired.
First, a cute little CBC video on Teledyne, and the Titan Sub. Interesingly, this Stockton Rush CEO fag has the exact same voice as Ben Shapiro.
Here he is playing with the video game controller while talking about the sub’s safety. Thanks for the uncritical puff piece on this, CBC. Very cool.
Information Liberation found TikTok videos of the “inspirational” employee talking about dragging her coworkers to AIDS parades while they were at port. I have taken the liberty of combining these all into one collage.
Four of the five passengers on board, Shahzada and Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and Hamish Harding, didn’t deserve to die like this. Stockton Rush on the other hand…
Credit to Shadowman311‘s Manic Musings for at least finding these memes, if not creating many of them.