"Safety is just pure waste": Lost Titanic sub’s creator made chilling comment in 2022 interview as search becomes "bleak"

22 June 2023, 16:28

Stockton Rush spoke about his concerns on overregulation in interviews in 2019 and 2022
Stockton Rush spoke about his concerns on overregulation in interviews in 2019 and 2022. Picture: Getty/OceanGate/Social Media

By Asher McShane

The boss of the firm that created the missing Titanic submarine gave an interview last year in which he said “at some point, safety is just pure waste”.

As the search efforts for the missing submersible, Titan, become increasingly desperate, the 2022 interview with boss Stockton Rush re-emerged.

He was discussing the design and mechanics of the crafty on the ‘Unsung Science’ podcast on CBS.

He told journalist David Pogue: “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." 

Read more: ‘I’ve broken some rules’: OceanGate boss revealed window on Titanic sub would get ‘squeezed’ under pressure

Read more: What happens when oxygen runs out on Titanic sub? Crew may 'just fall asleep' - but hypothermia 'could be their friend'

Stockton Rush previously complained about strict passenger-vessel regulations
Stockton Rush previously complained about strict passenger-vessel regulations. Picture: YouTube

"I think I can do this just as safely while breaking the rules,” he added.

In a separate interview in 2019, Mr Rush said the industry was “obscenely safe” and that regulations were holding back innovation.

He said there had been no injuries in the field for decades, saying: "It's obscenely safe because they have all these regulations. But it also hasn't innovated or grown — because they have all these regulations."

He had previously been described as a “daredevil inventor” in a profile in Smithsonian Magazine.

The final picture of the Titan submersible before it was lost
The final picture of the Titan submersible before it was lost. Picture: Social media

In a blog post in 2019 on OceanGate’s website, the firm explained why the Titan submersible isn’t classed by standard regulatory processes.

It said the company met standards “where they apply” but that classifying the vessel was an “anathema to innovation.”

The US Coast Guard is still treating the hunt for the missing Titan submersible as an "active search and rescue”.

More ships have been scrambled to help find the missing deep-sea vessel, which lost communication on Sunday while about 435 miles south of St John's, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Missing: Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, Stockton Rush, Hamish Harding (inset) and French navy veteran PH Nargeolet
Missing: Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, Stockton Rush, Hamish Harding (inset) and French navy veteran PH Nargeolet. Picture: Social Media/handout

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7m (22ft)-long vessel, which has British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding on board, would last the crew of five 96 hours, running out at around midday today.

But Rear Admiral John Mauger confirmed the main focus of the US Coast Guard and the unified command in charge of the operation was to retrieve the vessel in what is still being seen as an active search and rescue.

He told Sky News: "We continue to keep the crew members and the families in our thoughts as we proceed with this search and rescue while we're cognisant of the time and we've factored in a lot of data and information into the search.

"This is still an active search and rescue at this point and we're using the equipment that we have on the bottom right now, the remote operated vehicles to expand our search capability, and then also to provide rescue capability as well."

When questioned about the noises detected by the sonar buoys dropped into the ocean, he revealed initial reports found that it was "ocean background noise".

United States Coast Guard make statement about ongoing search for Titan

He said: "We've taken that information and shared it with top leading experts from the US Navy and the Canadian Navy, and they're working on the analysis of that information, they're continuing to work on the analysis of that information.

"The initial reports is that there's a lot of the sounds that were generated were from background ocean noise, but they continue to ... look for all available information there.

"What's important to me, and what's important as the unified command, is that we've continued search in the areas where noise was detected with the ROVs that we have from the time of that detection, so we're not waiting for this analysis to take action.

"The analysis is really helpful to our overall search-and-rescue efforts, but we're not waiting on it, we've moved the remote operated vehicles that we've had on site to those areas where noise was detected."

In a statement published online Guillermo Sohnlein, co-founder of OceanGate, thanked the people involved in the search and rescue, as well as confirming the pilot to be his "co-founder and friend".

He also claims that the time window the people on board have is larger than the estimated 96 hours.

In the statement, he said: "Today will be a critical day in this search and rescue mission, as the sub's life support supplies are starting to run low.

"I'm certain that Stockton and the rest of the crew realized days ago that the best thing they can do to ensure their rescue is to extend the limits of those supplies by relaxing as much as possible.

"I firmly believe that the time window available for their rescue is longer than what most people think.

"I would encourage everyone to remain hopeful for getting the crew back safely."

Also in the craft are UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, a student at the University of Strathclyde, OceanGate's chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, and French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.