I Was Warned in 2018: 'Do Not Get Into That Sub'

Susan Casey shares the years of concerns she heard about OceanGate's Titan
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2023 8:50 AM CDT
I Was Warned in 2018: 'Do Not Get Into That Sub'
This undated image provided by OceanGate Expeditions in June 2021 shows the company's Titan submersible.   (OceanGate Expeditions via AP, File)

"But like screaming at the screen, nothing that came out of anyone's mouth made any difference to the ending." So writes Susan Casey in her in-depth look for Vanity Fair about what happened to the Titan submersible. It's a fate, she explains, that she feared since 2018, when she began reporting her book The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean and was party to frequent concerned discussions about it within the deep-sea community. One veteran sub pilot gave it to her straight: "Do not get into that sub." One issue was the hull itself, which was made of filament-wound carbon fiber, "an unpredictable material that is known to fail suddenly and catastrophically under pressure."

Casey writes that OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush hired the highly experienced David Lochridge as his director of marine operations; he'd be the one who would declare the Titan good to go. He did anything but. A 10-page report he produced in early 2018 listed a series of problems, none greater than his major qualms about the hull. Casey explains the manufacturing process: "Interwoven carbon fibers are wound around a cylinder and bonded with epoxy, then bagged in cellophane and cured in an oven for seven days. The goal is perfect consistency; any mistakes are baked in permanently." Lochridge said a scan of the hull to reveal weak spots was a must. Stockton opted not to scan it—and to fire and sue Lochridge instead. (Read the full piece, which explains how Rush skirted certain regulations and passenger protections by sailing his unclassed sub in international waters and calling those aboard "mission specialists.")

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