Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Defiant Stockton Rush Tested the Doomed Titan in Abaco, Bahamas

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The overconfident CEO of the doomed submersible Titan, Stockton Rush tested his vessel in the Bahamas 5 years before he and four adventurers met their fate in the North Atlantic Ocean on a quest to see the wreckage of the legendary passenger liner the Titanic.

Rush is seen peering through the only porthole of the vessel during a test dive in Abaco, Bahamas, boasting that it is “the largest viewport of any private deep-diving submersible.” In May 2018 while on the island, he tested the computer equipment and posed near the vessel on the deck of a ship as he prepared to launch his newest adventure which was not certified.

Underwater photographer Emmy Award Winner Becky Kagan Schott took the photo of the ill-fated, disastrous minivan-sized vessel which was made of carbon fibre composite, which many argued could not withstand the immense pressure and cold of the great depths of the ocean.

Emmy underwater photographer Becky Kagan Schott
Stockton Rush peers through the view port of the doomed Titan in the Bahamas in 2018

This was one of two images taken by the acclaimed photographer who in 2019 believed the Titan “was going to the Titanic and would be used for other scientific missions.”

In another photo taken in the island-nation, Schott said, “My image of the OceanGate Submersible Titan descending into the depths during a test dive in 2019 in the Bahamas.”

But the craft, operated with a handheld PlayStation controller, was domed from its conception as Rush too acknowledged the risk saying “at some point, safety just is pure waste” during an interview with CBS correspondent David Pogue last year.

“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. 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.”

Experts from the Marine Technology Society sent a letter to Rush, warning him of “catastrophic” consequences if he continued to ignore “the safeguards that protect all submersible occupants,” but OceanGate opposed outside safety testing of its submersible in a 2019 blog post, asserting that it would be “anathema to rapid innovation,” as the company claimed that its “real-time hull health monitoring” would be able to determine “if the hull is compromised well before situations become life-threatening.”

The vessel’s discovery on Thursday proved just that as debris found on the ocean floor was “consistent with catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber” in the submersible, said Rear Admiral John Mauger of the U.S. Coast Guard during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

After a five-day intense search for the wealthy crew of explorers who spent over $250,000 for a seat on the doomed craft, investigators still have not found the bodies of OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush  nor passengers British businessman Hamish Harding, Pakistani investor Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman nor French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

Photo credit: Becky Kagan Schott

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