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OceanGate: 2018 letter warns potential for Titan mission problems

A 2018 letter, obtained by the New York Times, warned OceanGate Expeditions of potential ‘negative outcomes (from minor to catastrophic)’ during the development of the Titan submersible and its planned expedition to the Titanic wreckage.


The letter which was addressed to the late CEO Stockton Rush, who was one of the dubbed Titan Five stuck on the sub, was sent by the Marine Technology Society. The experts urged OceanGate to test prototypes via third-parties and described the Titans marketing as ‘at minimum, misleading to the public and breaches an industry-wide professional code of conduct’.


According to promotional material, the manned submersible was capable of reaching depths of 4,000 metres ‘for site survey and inspection, research and data collection, film and media production, and deep sea testing of hardware and software’.


This follows the confirmations from both the US Coast Guard and OceanGate of the deaths of the five passengers on the missing sub, the youngest of which was 19-year-old University of Strathclyde student, Suleman Dawood.


Suleman boarded the sub at 8am on Sunday alongside his father Shahzada Dawood, British billionaire explorer Hamish Harding ,French navy veteran Paul-Henri Nargolet and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush.


The sub lost communications with its mothership on the surface, the Polar Prince, one hour and forty-five minutes into the deep sea tour. This was reported to the coast guard 8 hours later.


Sean Leet, the co-founder and Chairman of Horizon Maritime Services, who own the Polar Prince from which the Titan launched, claims the $250,000 per person expedition is ‘an extremely safe operation’.


The Titan is narrow, carrying a crew of five people which includes the captain and the trip reportedly takes eight hours and includes a scientific objective. This also involves studying the Titanic wreck’s decay.


‘We’re in constant contact with the crew of the Polar Prince’. Mr Leet adds.

‘Our emergency room is staffed 24/7 with a group of extremely capable people and there's live communication with the vessel at all times’.


Experts speaking to the BBC worried that a catastrophic implosion may have occurred as a result of a hull failure, explaining the debris found.


The US Coast Guard announced on Thursday that the debris located just 1,600 feet away from the Titanic wreckage is ‘consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber’. 


The families of the five men who were on board are yet to speak publicly on news surrounding the debris discovery, however, the family of British billionaire Hamish Harding, have expressed anger that it took eight hours for the mothership to report the missing sub.


In November 2022, CBS reporter David Pogue tried the submersible and said the vessel got lost for up to five hours during a similar dive. 


He was not onboard, however, he was in the control room of the submersibles mothership and said the ship’s crew turned off the internet so he couldn't tweet about it.


‘They could still send short texts to the sub, but did not know where it was’. Pogue continues.


Allegedly OceanGate told Pogue and its passengers that it shut off the WiFi to free up bandwidth should the situation develop into an emergency.


‘If one were cynical, one could also interpret that gesture as a way to prevent the passengers, and reporters, from tweeting about an unfolding problem’. has been inaccessible since the unfortunate incident.

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Tags: #TitanSub #Titanic #OceanGate #Titan


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