The Titan submarine disaster was years in the making, new details reveal

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The Titan submarine disaster was years in the making, new details reveal

Vanity Fair reviews OceanGate’s many warning signs Titan submarine before an implosion on June 18 that killed all five passengers on board.

A professional expedition leader tells their reporter that “This tragedy was foreseen. It could have been avoided. It was inevitable.”

As the world already knows, Stockton Rush advertises itself as a maverick, a disruptor, a rule breaker. So far off the visionary curve that safety regulations were mere suggestions to him. “If you’re not breaking things, you’re not innovating,” he said at the 2022 GeekWire Summit. To me, the more things you’ve broken, the more innovative you’ve been.” But in the deep ocean, the price of admission is humility – and it’s non-negotiable…

In December 2015, two years ago Titan was built, Rush had lowered a one-third scale model of his future 4,000-meter submarine into a pressure chamber and watched it implode at 4,000 psi, a pressure equivalent to only 2,740 meters. The stated purpose of the test was to “confirm that the pressure vessel’s construction is capable of withstanding an external pressure of 6,000 psi – which corresponds to…a depth of about 4,200 meters.” He may then have changed course, stepped back for a moment and thought. But he didn’t. Instead, OceanGate issued a press release stating that the test was a huge success because it “demonstrates that the benefits of carbon fiber are real.”
OceanGate’s director of marine operations later issued a quality control report replete with caveats:

These include missing bolts and improperly secured batteries, components zipped to the outside of the submarine. O-ring grooves machined incorrectly (which may allow water ingress), seals loose, highly flammable petroleum-based material lined TitanThe interior of the… Yet even these flaws pale in comparison to what Lockridge notices on the hull. The carbon fiber strand was visibly disintegrating, riddled with air gaps, delaminations and swiss cheese holes – and there was no way to fix this other than to throw the body in a dumpster…

Rush’s response was to immediately fire Lockridge, sue him and his wife (even though Carol Lockridge did not work at OceanGate or even in the submarine industry) for breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and misappropriation of trade secrets; jeopardize their immigration status; and are seeking to make them pay OceanGate’s legal fees.
The article also tells a story about OceanGate’s 240-foot dive to the wreck of the Andrea Doria in 2016. The article alleges that Rush ignored safety instructions, then “landed too close, got caught in the current, managed to wedge the submarine under the Andrea Doria’s crumbling bow, and went into a complete panic …”

The author of the article wonders that five years ago “I still did not know how reckless, how careless, how crazy on Titan it was.” They had once even considered booking a trip on OceanGate’s submarine—until they got this tip from the chief pilot of the University of Hawaii’s two deep-sea submarines. no enter this sub. He’s going to have a big crash.”

Thanks to Slashdot reader AleRunner for sharing the article.

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