Did ‘cavalier’ Titanic sub boss Stockton Rush lie about craft’s safety to persuade French dive expert to join trip?

30 June 2023, 14:40

The sub is reported to have been built with 'expired' carbon fibre
The sub is reported to have been built with 'expired' carbon fibre. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Asher McShane

The Titanic Foundation is investigating claims made by OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush about the safety of the doomed Titan sub.

Mr Rush, who died with four others on the submersible craft, has already been described as having a ‘cavalier’ approach by the president of the foundation.

Jessie Sanders, who heads up RMS Titanic Inc, has announced a review into whether Paul-Henri Nargeolet should have been let on board.

Ms Sanders told the New York Post that they are looking back at the veracity of Mr Rush’s statements, including his claim that the sub was ‘way safer than flying in a helicopter or even scuba diving.’

She said: “We have now our own internal questions about the representations OceanGate made that we made the basis on giving PH the OK to go.

“We're going back and looking at that now ourselves internally, because there were representations not only made to us, but made to the court, that now we have to go back and verify because of these stories that are coming up that question them.”

It comes after new evidence emerged about the sub suggesting it was unfit for the treacherous expedition ahead.

Arnie Weissmann, editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly, has revealed the haunting conversation he had with OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush before the day of the fatal expedition.

Mr Weissmann was originally set to join the June expedition but was forced to back out due to schedule clashes.

But Mr Weissmann has now revealed more evidence that CEO Mr Rush cut corners when developing the vessel.

According to the Travel Weekly editor, he boasted about how he had bought carbon fibre for the sub “at a big discount” because “it was past its shelf life use in airplanes”.

Read More: Bodies of Titan sub victims unlikely to be found as deep sea dive firm 'completes off-shore operations'

Speaking to the Washington Post, Mr Weissmann went on: “I responded right away, saying, 'Don’t you have any concerns about that?’

“He was very dismissive and said: 'No, it’s perfectly fine. Having all these certifications for airplanes is one thing, but the carbon fibre was perfectly sound.'"

Experts have already stressed how carbon fibre was a poor choice of material for the sub – but materials past their expiry date could have made the sub even more susceptible to vulnerabilities, some have claimed.

Experts have even suggested that water may have seeped into the spaces where the carbon fibre met pieces of titanium.

It comes after a series of other reports about how the CEO cut corners when developing the sub.

Read more: OceanGate Expeditions is still advertising $250,000 trips to the Titanic wreckage - despite implosion that killed five

CEO Stockton Rush reportedly cut some corners to make the sub.
CEO Stockton Rush reportedly cut some corners to make the sub. Picture: Alamy

Read more: OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush believed 'anomalies' could be detected in sub 'before critical pressure', 2020 Q&A reveals

Read more: First photos show Titanic sub debris brought ashore after craft imploded killing all five aboard

In a 2022 interview with journalist David Pogue on the ‘Unsung Science’ podcast, the CEO said: “At some point, safety is just 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. 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 while breaking the rules,” he added.

Meanwhile in a video posted to Youtube last year, where the Oceangate CEO tells Mexican actor Alan Estrada about the sub’s seven-inch thick acrylic window, Rush admits in the clip he had “broken some rules to make this”.

It comes after it emerged on Wednesday that "presumed human remains" of the five passengers on board the Titan sub had been recovered from the wreckage, the US Coast Guard has said.

The US Coast Guard said in a statement: "United States medical professionals will conduct a formal analysis of presumed human remains that have been carefully recovered within the wreckage at the site of the incident."

Debris from the sub was brought ashore on Wednesday.
Debris from the sub was brought ashore on Wednesday. Picture: Alamy

Jason Neubauer, a captain with the Marine Board of Investigation, said: "The evidence will provide investigators from several international jurisdictions with critical insights into the cause of this tragedy.

"There is still a substantial amount of work to be done to understand the factors that led to the catastrophic loss of the Titan and help ensure a similar tragedy does not occur again."

Pictures released on Wednesday showed workers moving a panel with a complex set of wiring and tubes as the debris was brought in at a Canadian Coast Guard pier at St John's in Newfoundland.

An investigation into what happened to the OceanGate Expeditions vessel has since been opened, with experts believing it imploded.

British billionaire Hamish Harding was aboard, along with Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French explorer, Shahzada Dawood, a UK-based Pakistani businessman who was a board member of the Prince's Trust charity, his 19-year-old son Suleman Dawood, who went to Strathclyde University in Glasgow, and Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate.