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Exploring the Depths: OceanGate's Submersible Incident and the Nexus of Science, Corporations, and Public Trust


     On June 18th, 2023, OceanGate, a renowned deep-sea exploration company, faced a significant setback when their 5-person submersible, the Titan, lost communication with its surface vessel, an hour and 45 minutes into its descent during an expedition to explore the wreckage of the Titanic, which caused a spur all over the world and across the internet for information about the safety of the five men. It was confirmed that the Titan submersible imploded as they concluded after finding debris and discovering the end cap piece with the viewport unloaded in St Johns, Canada. This was found on June 22nd, four days after the debacle. This unfortunate incident raises important questions about the broader implications for science, the relationship between the general public, and large corporations involved in such ventures. It calls for reflecting on the delicate balance between scientific progress, corporate responsibility, and public trust. While science is a primary source of practical solutions, it also creates foundational problems. In this opinion piece, we will delve into OceanGate's past expeditions, explore the interplay between science, the general public, and powerful corporations, and shed light on the complexities of this dynamic relationship.





Setting the Stage:

    Some of our generation's scientific and technological achievements have been in the sea; since there are no human inhabitants, humans are more susceptible and curious to want to discover. The idea of a machine that can be used underwater is not very “modern” as the first-ever recognised submersible or submarine, called the Turtle also known as Bushnell’s Turtle, credited the American engineer David Bushnell who invented the submarine in  1775 during the American Revolutionary War. The Turtle was a one-man wooden submarine designed to attach explosives to British warships. That was for a military purpose. We have developed and evolved as a generation where certain survival practices are now used for leisure and recreational activities, such as submarines. Oceangate has been partaking in deep-sea explorations since 2010 and is just one example of this evolution.   OceanGate Expeditions is a marine exploration company founded in 2009 by two American businessmen, Guillermo Söhnlein and the recently late Stockton Rush.


OceanGate's Past Expeditions:

     OceanGate has a track record of conducting successful deep-sea expeditions, contributing to scientific knowledge and exploration. Their previous missions include exploring deep-sea hydrothermal vents, studying marine life in uncharted territories, and conducting archaeological surveys of sunken ships. These expeditions have provided valuable insights into the ocean's mysteries and have pushed the boundaries of human understanding. One notable achievement of OceanGate was its participation in exploring the RMS Titanic wreckage. This iconic shipwreck has captivated the public's imagination for decades, and OceanGate's involvement generated significant interest worldwide. Their aim was not only to document and study the remains of the Titanic but also to advance deep-sea exploration technologies and capabilities.

The Interplay Between Science, the General Public, and Powerful Corporations:

The Titan submersible incident has brought to light the complex relationship between science, the general public, and powerful corporations. Deep-sea exploration and scientific research in remote and challenging environments often require substantial financial investments, technological expertise, and logistical support. Corporations like OceanGate play a crucial role in facilitating these endeavours. However, with such partnerships comes the responsibility to ensure those involved's safety and maintain transparency with the public. The loss of communication with the Titan submersible and the subsequent implosion raises concerns about the safety protocols and precautions taken by OceanGate. This incident has undoubtedly eroded public trust in their ability to conduct safe and reliable deep-sea explorations.

      The incident also highlights the tension between scientific progress and corporate interests. Scientific advancements require funding and support, often provided by large corporations. While these collaborations can accelerate research and development, they may also introduce conflicts of interest and compromises in scientific integrity. It is crucial to strike a balance between the pursuit of knowledge and the financial motivations of corporations to ensure that scientific exploration remains ethical and accountable.


The Complexities of the Dynamic Relationship:

The incident involving OceanGate's submersible serves as a stark reminder of the complexities inherent in the relationship between science, corporations, and the general public. On one hand, scientific exploration pushes the boundaries of human knowledge and has the potential to benefit society in numerous ways. Through such ventures, we discover new species, understand geological processes, and gain insights into the history of our planet.

However, the involvement of powerful corporations introduces commercial interests and profit motives into the equation. This dynamic can sometimes compromise safety, transparency, and public trust. To navigate this delicate balance, corporations like OceanGate need to prioritize their personnel's safety, maintain open communication lines with the public, and adhere to rigorous scientific standards.


Moving Forward:

The incident involving OceanGate's submersible should catalyse introspection and improvement within the scientific and corporate communities. It is essential for companies engaged in deep-sea exploration to reassess their safety protocols, conduct thorough investigations into the incident, and implement measures to prevent similar accidents in the future.Furthermore, corporations must prioritize public engagement and education to rebuild trust and foster a better understanding of the risks and benefits associated with scientific exploration. Open and transparent communication will help dispel misconceptions, address concerns, and ensure that the public remains informed about the progress and challenges of deep-sea expeditions.


In conclusion, the incident involving OceanGate's submersible brings to light the intricate dynamics between science, corporations, and the public. It underscores the need for robust safety measures, ethical conduct, and open communication in deep-sea exploration. By reflecting on this incident and taking proactive steps, we can strive for a more harmonious and responsible relationship between science, corporations, and public trust.


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