OceanGate sub a "monstrosity" say industry experts

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Credit: Getty Images

OceanGate submarine a "monstrosity" say industry experts

20 July 2023

The OceanGate submersible, which imploded in June on a descent to the Titanic killing all five passengers, has been called an "experimental monstrosity that should never have carried people" by Patrick Lahey, co-founder of Triton Submarines, in his first public comments on the disaster.

Speaking on this special episode of the Big BOAT Interview, alongside Rob McCallum, co-founder of EYOS Expeditions, Lahey recalls pleading with his long-time friend and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who was killed in the incident, not to dive with OceanGate. "I tried to do everything I could to discourage him from going out there. I know many people that knew him did the same thing."

Rob McCallum, EYOS Expeditions
Credit: Reeve Jolliffe

McCallum also discusses his now well-publicised email exchange with OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who also died on the dive, warning him that he was courting disaster by taking the uncertified Titan submersible to such extreme depths.

"He was completely dismissive," McCallum says. "The minute I found out it was going to be an unclassed vehicle, that's when the alarm bells rang. But perhaps the biggest red flag of all was when a senior member of the OceanGate team wrote a report laying out the 26 or 27 things wrong with the sub and suggested solutions to those problems and he was silenced. He was fired on the spot and taken to court to keep him quiet."

McCallum also relates the final time he met Rush, at a dinner, when "I told him in no uncertain terms that he was doing the wrong thing".

Lahey also met Rush, and toured the OceanGate submersible while it was being tested in the Bahamas. "There were glaring defects. I made this list of things for them to address. But when I looked at it, I thought I didn't have to worry too much as there was no way it was ever going to see the light of day."

Patrick Lahey, Triton Submarines
Credit: Reeve Jolliffe

An investigation is now underway into the incident, led by the US Coast Guard, with an aim to "prevent similar accidents in the future". Both Lahey and McCallum underline the point that to prevent similar incidents, all submersibles should be subject to third-party certification.

"It's essential," says Lahey. "If people insist on [accreditation] you can be assured that the craft that you're getting in has been reviewed independently by a group of professionals and according to a set of rules, it will be safe. If you look at the track record of certified craft, it is without peer – 50-plus years of absolute safety."

You can listen to the full interview with Lahey and McCallum on the BOAT Briefing podcast. A new episode is released every week, and you can listen via Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Don't forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode of the superyacht industry's biggest podcast.


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