'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

The OceanGate CEO tried to convince Jay Bloom the submarine was safer than crossing the road
The OceanGate CEO tried to convince Jay Bloom the submarine was safer than crossing the road. Picture: Alamy/Facebook

By Will Taylor

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.

Stockton Rush sent messages trying to persuade him to come aboard
Stockton Rush sent messages trying to persuade him to come aboard. Picture: Facebook

Read more: Titanic sub crew's poignant last moments on land as cafe worker recalls how 'excited' they were for trip

Read more: Coastguard finds multiple parts of destroyed Titanic sub after all five passengers die in 'catastrophic implosion'

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.

In one message he wrote: "Curious what the uninformed think the danger is"
In one message he wrote: "Curious what the uninformed think the danger is". Picture: Facebook

"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."

He tried to explain away the dangers in a series of texts
He tried to explain away the dangers in a series of texts. Picture: Facebook

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.

He suggested a 'last minute' price of $150,000 per person
He suggested a 'last minute' price of $150,000 per person. Picture: Facebook

Read More: Teenage son killed in Titanic sub was 'terrified' about trip and 'only agreed to please his dad for Father's Day'

Read More: ‘It took far too long’: Family of Hamish Harding hit out at missing Titanic sub owner for not raising alarm fast enough

"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)."

Mr Bloom said he was offered a last minute price to join the expedition
Mr Bloom said he was offered a last minute price to join the expedition. Picture: Facebook

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".

Stockton Rush died on the expedition
Stockton Rush died on the expedition. Picture: Alamy

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."

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