Survivor of failed Titan trip recalls moment passengers had to 'rock from side to side' to get sub back to surface

27 July 2023, 12:52 | Updated: 28 July 2023, 09:51

Bill Price said he had survivor's guilt after his OceanGate Titan trip
Bill Price said he had survivor's guilt after his OceanGate Titan trip. Picture: YouTube/Handout

By Kit Heren

A survivor of a botched trip to the Titanic in OceanGate's Titan submersible has told of the moment passengers had to rock from side to side to get the vessel back to the surface.

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Bill Price was a passenger on the Titan's maiden voyage to the wreckage of the Titanic in 2021.

But the propulsion system on the vessel, which suffered a catastrophic implosion in June this year, killing all passengers, failed on the first trip down.

The Titan had several safety measures to get back to the surface if systems failed, including a mechanism to release weights from the vessel, which would make it float up to the surface.

But the weights failed to dislodge.

Read more: Close friend of Titan sub pilot tried to talk him out of fatal trip, fearing hull would collapse 'catastrophically and unexpectedly'

Read more: Simulation shows how Titan sub collapsed 'millisecond by millisecond' as crew heard ominous 'loud pops and creaks'

The Oceangate submersible Titan
The Oceangate submersible Titan. Picture: Alamy

Recalling his trip after this June's fatal disaster, Mr Price said: "There was some apprehension of how are we going to get back up".

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush and pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who were both on the first trip and died on the June 2023 voyage, told the passengers to rock from side to side to get the weights to dislodge themselves.

The passengers eventually heard the sound of the weights falling off - which Mr Price told the LA Times was "such a relief".

Despite his unnerving experience on the first trip, Mr Price readily went on the next available descent, and said he was delighted to see the Titanic wreckage.

The wreck of the Titanic
The wreck of the Titanic. Picture: Getty

"In terms of regret, I certainly don’t have any regrets," he said. "I do feel that maybe at the time I jumped into it without knowing everything."

But on learning of the June 2023 disaster, Mr Price said he was grieving the loss of Mr Rush and Mr Nargeolet.

"I do have survivor’s guilt," he said.

Expeditions on the Titan sub cost $250,000, and typically lasted around eight hours.

Five people died in the catastrophic implosion in June, including Mr Rush, British billionaire Hamish Harding, French explorer Paul Henry Nargeolet, businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman.

Stockton Rush
Stockton Rush. Picture: Alamy

Since the fatal Titan expedition, a number of people have spoken of their concerns about Mr Rush's attitude to safety, which he viewed as a barrier to innovation.

A number of cost-cutting measures and risky design choices may have also contributed to the catastrophic implosion of OceanGate's Titan submersible, experts have previously suggested. One major concern over the sub's design centres around the hull.

The Titan's hull was designed to be shaped like a pill, rather than a more standard sphere shape.

This was an attempt to fit more people inside to join the trip.

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