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'I'm worried he kills himself and others in quest to boost his ego': Ex-OceanGate worker's email about CEO Stockton Rush
4 July 2023, 09:01 | Updated: 4 July 2023, 15:19
A former OceanGate employee who was fired after raising safety concerns sent an email saying he was worried the company’s boss, Stockton Rush, would end up dead along with others ‘in a quest to boost his ego’.
David Lochridge, formerly OceanGate’s director of marine operations, was fired after repeatedly raising concerns about the safety of the Titan sub.
The craft suffered a ‘catastrophic implosion’ on a dive to the Titanic, killing all five on board, including the firm’s boss, Mr Rush.
Mr Lochridge emailed project associate Rob McCallum to say he was worried Mr Rush would die on the sub.
Mr McCallum also went on to quit over safety concerns.
The new claims emerged in The New Yorker who said Lochridge wrote: “I don’t want to be seen as a Tattle tale but I’m so worried he kills himself and others in the quest to boost his ego.
“I would consider myself pretty ballsy when it comes to doing things that are dangerous but that sub is an accident waiting to happen.
“There’s no way on earth you could have paid me to dive the thing.”
Lochridge had previously noted that his primary safety concern was the sub’s carbon fibre core which was responsible for keeping passengers alive at extreme depths. He raised fears over the fact that carbon fibre was not used on any other deep ocean submersible.
Several other experts have slammed Rush’s use of the material - which is strong under tension but is less tested under compression.
The sub was also not certified by a recognised safety standard.
Lochridge had pressed for more testing of the sub - according to a lawsuit filed in the Seattle District Court.
OceanGate countersued Lochridge, accusing him of breaching a non-disclosure agreement and disputing that he was wrongfully fired for raising questions about testing and safety.
OceanGate has not commented on the Lochridge lawsuit, or its refusal to seek classification.
In a blog post titled “Why Isn't Titan Classed?', OceanGate offered its stance on neglecting to seek classification, suggesting the process would take too long.
The post said: “While classing agencies are willing to pursue the certification of new and innovative designs and ideas, they often have a multi-year approval cycle due to a lack of pre-existing standards…
“Bringing an outside entity up to speed on every innovation before it is put into real-world testing is anathema to rapid innovation.”
Stockton Rush dismissed concerns about a “really loud bang” during a previous dive, it also emerged today.
He was filmed speaking to passengers for an episode of the BBC’s The Travel Show in 2022 when he mentioned that a crew member had heard a troubling sound coming from the sub while it was on the surface.
He said the noise was “not a soothing sound” but downplayed the danger adding that “almost every deep-sea sub makes a noise at some point.”
“We want everyone going into this fully informed. This is an experimental sub, this is a dangerous environment,” Mr Rush said.
In a 2021 interview, he appeared to boast about ‘bending the rules’ in the construction of the Titan.