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'Safer than crossing the street': OceanGate CEO's desperate bid to convince businessman to join doomed Titanic trip
23 June 2023, 13:21 | Updated: 23 June 2023, 16:04
An American businessman has revealed he was offered a spot on the doomed OceanGate Titanic submersible and the company's CEO insisted it was safer than "crossing the street".
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Jay Bloom, a Las Vegas financier, shared texts from Stockton Rush – one of the five passengers killed in the disaster – trying to convince him to book a $150,000 trip to see the ocean liner.
The Titan submersible is thought to have imploded as it fell out of contact on Sunday – some 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland.
So. I decided to share some of my texts with Stockton Rush, the CEO and founder of OceanGate, the company that built...Posted by Jay Bloom on Thursday, June 22, 2023
Mr Rush was killed alongside British billionaire Hamish Harding, French naval expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, 19, both of whom took Mr Bloom's spot.
Texts show how Mr Rush, who repeatedly tried to convince Mr Bloom it was safe, offered him a discount on the $250,000 fee and said it was safer than flying.
Mr Bloom said on Facebook: "In February Stockton asked me and my son, Sean, to go with him on the dive to Titanic in May.
"Both May dives were postponed due to weather and the dive got delayed until June 18th, the date of this trip.
"I expressed safety concerns and Stockton told me: 'While there's obviously risk it's way safer than flying in a helicopter or even scuba diving. There hasn't been even an injury in 35 years in a non-military subs.'
"I am sure he really believed what he was saying. But he was very wrong."
Texts show repeated contact from Mr Rush, who offers him the "last minute price" of $150,000.
When Mr Bloom texted him in February to say his son's friend had researched the dangers, including "stupid stuff" like whether a whale could attack it, Mr Rush replied: "Yeah very stupid. The pressure is over 100 million pounds, no sperm whale or squid is ever going to be able to mess with the sub.
"While there's obviously risk it's way safer than flying in a helicopter or even scuba diving.
"There hasn't been even an injury in 35 years in a non-military subs (sic)."
He later texted that the submersible, which has been scrutinised over its construction and safety concerns, was too big to fit in a whale's mouth.
Mr Rush added that whales don't swim lower than 3,000 metres – while the Titanic is about 3,800 metres.
"I'm really not concerned about getting eaten by a whale," Mr Bloom said.
In WhatsApp messages dating to March and May, Mr Rush tries to offer places and says the weather would be good for a May or June "mission".
Submersible lost on dive to Titanic suffered 'catastrophic implosion' – US Coast Guard
The trip ended in disaster, with US officials saying it was lost in a "catastrophic implosion" that killed the passengers.
Fragments were found on the sea floor, about 1,600ft (480m) below the waves.
It has led to questions about OceanGate's submersible's construction, especially surrounding claims about Nasa and Boeing's involvement and the games console controller used to pilot it.
Guillermo Sohnlein, a co-founder of OceanGate, who has left the business a decade ago, insisted it was tested rigorously.
Mr Bloom wrote on Facebook: "He [Stockton Rush] passionately believed in what he was doing.
"The last time I saw Stockton in person was March 1st. He took me through the Titanic Exhibit at Luxor.
"Then, at lunch in the Luxor food court we talked about the dive, including safety. He was absolutely convinced that it was safer than crossing the street.
"He gave me a book of photos (1 of 324 produced) signed by him and Paul Henri Nargeolet, two of the five onboard the sub.
"I told him that due to scheduling we couldn't go until next year. Our seats went to Shahzada Dawood and his 19 year old son, Suleman Dawood, two of the other three who lost their lives on this excursion (the fifth being Hamish Harding).
"One last time.. RIP Stockton and crew."