James Cameron: I ‘Felt It in My Bones’ That Titanic Sub Suffered a Catastrophe

James Cameron: I ‘Felt It in My Bones’ That Titanic Sub Suffered a Catastrophe

OceanGate, the operator of the Titan submersible which imploded while journeying to the wreckage site of the Titanic, reportedly received numerous warnings that the vessel was unsafe. All five passengers, including the company’s CEO, are presumed dead. James Cameron, producer and director of the critically acclaimed film, Titanic, told BBC News he believed the worst when the U.S. Coast Guard reported that the submersible had lost communication and navigation on Sunday.

The Coast Guard said at a press conference on Thursday that an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) discovered debris from the Titan only 487.68 m from the bow of the Titanic. The debris was consistent with a “catastrophic implosion,” Paul Hankins, a director of the Salvage Operations and Ocean Engineering for the U.S. Navy, told reporters. Cameron said he saw it coming.

“I felt it in my bones,” Cameron told the BBC. “For me, there was no doubt. There was no search. When they finally got an ROV down there that could make the depth, they found it within hours. Probably within minutes.”

The U.S. Navy also saw it coming. The Navy disclosed Thursday that its audio equipment had picked up a massive underwater sound Sunday — what is now believed to be the Titan’s implosion — while conducting a secret underwater mission. The Navy reported the sound to the Coast Guard, which helped narrow the search. “The U.S. Navy conducted an analysis of acoustic data and detected an anomaly consistent with an implosion or explosion in the general vicinity of where the Titan submersible was operating when communications were lost,” a senior U.S. Navy official told The Wall Street Journal. “While not definitive, this information was immediately shared with the Incident Commander to assist with the ongoing search and rescue mission.”

OceanGate had reportedly received numerous warnings that the Titan was unsafe for passengers, including from a whistleblower who was fired in 2018 for “leaking confidential information” in a complaint to the OceanGate management and government regulators. The employee, David Lochridge, raised concerns that the company had not adequately tested the submersible at the same water depths it would be travelling to reach the Titanic.

“The paying passengers would not be aware, and would not be informed, of this experimental design, the lack of non-destructive testing of the hull, or that hazardous flammable materials were being used within the submersible,” he said in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

More than three dozen experts both inside and outside the company warned CEO Stockton Rush in a 2018 letter, about the possibility of a catastrophe. The experts told Rush, who was on the Titan when it imploded, that the company’s “experimental approach … could result in negative outcomes (from minor to catastrophic)… .”

Cameron told the BBC that he hadn’t known that OceanGate wasn’t certified, having not thoroughly looked into the matter, but said, “I was very suspect of the technology that they were using. I wouldn’t have gotten in that sub.”

He drew parallels between the horrific Titanic wreck in 1912 and the Titan implosion that killed all five crew members on board in the interview with BBC. “OceanGate was warned,” said Cameron, who has made more than 30 dives to the Titanic site and designed his own sub built in Australia in collaboration with the National Geographic Society and Swiss watchmaker Rolex. He used the vessel to dive at the Mariana Trench, located in the deepest part of the ocean at more than twice the depth of the Titanic wreckage site.

Speaking about the Titan’s implosion which killed all five people on board, Cameron told the BBC, “It’s not lost on me as somebody who studied the meaning of Titanic… it’s about warnings that were ignored.” He continued, “That ship is lying at the bottom of the ocean, not because of the nature of its steel or the nature of its compartments, but just because of bad seamanship. The captain was warned, there were icebergs ahead, it was a moonless night and he plowed ahead.”

Shahzada Dawood, who was on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) board of directors, boarded the Titan on Sunday with his son, Suleman, who expressed uncertainty about visiting the Titanic wreckage. Shahzada’s sister, Azmeh Dawood, told NBC News that Suleman was “terrified” leading up to the journey and “wasn’t very up to it.”

Azmeh told the outlet that her brother had always had a passion for the Titanic and she therefore was unsurprised when he bought tickets for him and Suleman, at $US250,000 ($347,050) each. Suleman had reportedly decided to board the vessel since it was departing on Father’s Day and he didn’t want to let Shahzada down, according to Azmeh.

Former French Navy Officer and expert on the Titanic, Paul-Henry Nargeolet, and Hamish Harding, who boarded the Blue Origin rocket in a trip to space in June 2022, were also among the five on board who perished in the implosion.

“I feel like I’ve been caught in a really bad film with a countdown, but you didn’t know what you’re counting down to,” Azmeh told NBC. “I personally have found it kind of difficult to breathe thinking of them. I never thought I would have an issue with drawing breath. It’s been unlike any experience I’ve ever had.”

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