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OceanGate CEO last year addressed ‘worry’ of Titan submarine being unable to return to surface

The CEO of the company whose submersible craft has vanished with five people on board during a tourist dive to explore the wreckage of the Titanic revealed in a podcast interview late last year that he had a worry of objects preventing the vessel from returning to the surface. 

Stockton Rush of OceanGate addressed the concern during a November episode of “Unsung Science” titled “Back to Titanic Part 1,” which featured a discussion of his company’s now-missing Titan sub.

“So, once we’re down there, what are the things to worry about?” host David Pogue, a “CBS Sunday Morning” correspondent, asked Rush. 

“What I worry about most are things that will stop me from being able to get to the surface. Overhangs, fish nets, entanglement hazards,” Rush said. “And, that’s just a technique, piloting technique. It’s pretty clear — if it’s an overhang, don’t go under it. If there is a net, don’t go near it. So, you can avoid those if you are just slow and steady.” 


A man speaks in front of an OceanGate submersible

Stockton Rush, OceanGate’s chief executive, is seen speaking at a press conference in 2016 next to the Cyclops 1, a five-person sub that was used by OceanGate to capture detailed sonar images of the Andrea Doria shipwreck. (David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

When asked about safety in general, Rush said, “I don’t think it’s very dangerous.” 

“If you look at submersible activity over the last three decades, there hasn’t even been a major injury, let alone a fatality. What worries us is not once you’re underwater. What worries me is when I’m getting you there, when you’re on the ship in icy states with big doors that can crush your hands and people who may not have the best balance who fall down, bang their head, Rush said. “That’s, to me, the dangerous part. But, the scary part for most people is going down to 6,000 PSI [pounds per square inch].” 


OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush

Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate, poses in Times Square in New York City in April 2017. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

Rush also said during the interview, “You know, at some point, safety just is pure waste. I mean, if you just want to be safe, don’t get out of bed.”

“Don’t get in your car. Don’t do anything,” he added. “At some point, you’re going to take some risk, and it really is a risk/reward question. I think I can do this just as safely by breaking the rules.” 

The port bow railing of the Titanic

The port bow railing of the Titanic lies in 12,600 feet of water about 400 miles east of Nova Scotia as photographed during a joint scientific and recovery expedition sponsored by the Discovery Channel and RMS Titantic. (Reuters/File photo/File Photo)


The podcast mentioned the various safety features onboard the Titan, such as numerous weights that can be detached to help it gain buoyancy and return to the surface, and scuba oxygen tanks in its storage under the floor. 

The company lost contact with Titan on Sunday, and it is burning through a 96-hour oxygen supply. As of Tuesday, the sub remained missing.

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