OceanGate Suspends All Operations in the Aftermath of Titan Implosion

OceanGate Suspends All Operations in the Aftermath of Titan Implosion

OceanGate, the owner of the Titan submersible, is suspending “all exploration and commercial operations” following the fatal implosion of its vessel, which killed all five crew members on board. The suspension comes only weeks after the Titan deployed to the Titanic wreckage site, located about 3,810.00 m below the ocean’s surface.

The company had listed three additional trips to the Titanic in the wake of the Titan implosion, both of which were scheduled for 2024, but the notice does not say if or when the suspension will lift. However, despite the fine print at the top of OceanGate’s site, the three expeditions in May 2024 are still listed for deep-sea diving to the corals located off the coast of Portugal’s Azores Archipelago.

The submersible disappeared roughly an hour and 45 minutes after it began its descent on June 18, losing communication with the command centre above, prompting a frantic four-day search for the passengers on board. The search covered more than 1,813 as the 96-day oxygen supply dwindled, but when an ROV was sent to the ocean floor, it found two debris sites of wreckage from the Titan, located 487.68 m from the bow of the Titanic.

Pelagic Research Services, the owner of the ROV, retrieved the wreckage t a Canadian Coast Guard pier in St. John’s, Newfoundland last week and hoped to find the remains of the crew members including OceanGate’s former CEO and co-founder, Stockton Rush, Former French Navy Officer and expert on the Titanic, Paul-Henry Nargeolet, Hamish Harding, who boarded the Blue Origin rocket in a trip to space last year, and Shahzada Dawood and his teenage son, Suleman.

The Coast Guard confirmed that it had discovered “presumed human remains” on the wreckage, but has not released additional information. The Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) said in a news release that it would transport the evidence to a port in the U.S. for medical professionals to analyse the “remains that have been carefully recovered.”

An investigation into how and why the Titan exploded is still underway. Following the disaster, a damning 2018 video of Rush surfaced on OceanGate’s official YouTube channel. In the video, Rush is seen comparing the glue that held the Titan submersible together to “peanut butter.” He said it was “very thick, so it’s not like Elmer’s glue,” saying instead “It’s like peanut butter.” He added, “If we mess it up, there’s not a lot of room for recovery.”

OceanGate was reportedly warned that its submersible was not safe for passengers from a whistleblower in 2018, who was later fired for “leaking confidential information” after he filed a complaint to OceanGate management and government regulators. The employee, David Lochridge, told management he was concerned that not enough was done to ensure passenger’s safety, saying OceanGate had not followed protocols to test the Titan at the same water depths it would be traversing 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. The company charged each person $US250,000 ($347,050) to board the Titan but reportedly made them sign a waiver acknowledging there was the risk of death.

OceanGate did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for information about when the notice was added in the small, red print at the top of the site, and did not respond when asked if the suspension means the company is going out of business.

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