Titanic director and submersibles expert James Cameron said he predicted the Titanic’s explosion days before wreckage from the missing submersible was found, calling the search a ‘prolonged nightmarish charade’.
Mr Cameron, who has visited the world’s most famous sea wreck 30 times, said this week’s tragedy had parallels with the Titanic disaster, where the skipper repeatedly ignored warnings about an oncoming iceberg but continued at top speed.
The Titanic Five were killed instantly when they suffered a ‘catastrophic explosion’ just 1,600 feet from the bow of the doomed ocean liner, the US Coast Guard announced yesterday. A remotely operated submarine from a Canadian ship found the wreck on the sea floor.
But search and rescue officials said the men were likely dead on Sunday – before they thought military aircraft using sonar buoys could sound SOS ‘banging’ in the water. The U.S. Navy reported that they heard a sound consistent with an explosion when they lost contact about two hours after the dive. The Navy gave that information to the Coast Guard, an insider said.
Mr Cameron told BBC News that the Coast Guard search ‘felt like a protracted and nightmarish charade with people running around talking about banging noises and oxygen and all these other things’.
‘I knew the sub was sitting just below its last known depth and position. That’s exactly where they found it,’ he said.
According to court documents, safety concerns about the Titan submarine were previously raised by a former Oceangate employee. David Lochridge, OceanGate’s former director of marine operations, claimed wrongful dismissal after raising concerns about the company’s alleged ‘refusal to conduct critical, non-destructive testing of experimental designs’.
Mr Cameron said last night: ‘Some of the leading players in the deep-submersion engineering community even wrote to the company saying what they were doing was too experimental to carry passengers and it needed to be certified and so on.
‘I myself am struck by the analogy of the Titanic disaster, where the captain was repeatedly warned about the ice ahead of his ship and yet he steamed full speed into an ice field on a moonless night, and many died as a result. A very similar tragedy where caution is neglected — happening in the same exact location as all the diving going on around the world. I think it’s just amazing, it’s really quite surreal’.
Titanic director and submarine expert James Cameron says he predicted the Titanic’s explosion before the wreckage of the missing submarine was found, calling the search a ‘charade of prolonged nightmares’.
The Oceangate operations were allegedly repeatedly warned about security
Mr Cameron said: ‘I felt in my bones what had happened. I immediately got on the phone to some of my contacts in the deep immersion community. In about an hour I received the following information. They were descended. They were at 3500m, going down 3800m.
‘For the sub’s electronics to fail and its communications system to fail and its tracking transponder to fail simultaneously – the sub is gone.
‘We now have another wreck which unfortunately is based on the same principle of not heeding warnings.’
The dead were Oceangate CEO Stockton Rush, French Navy veteran Paul-Henri (Ph) Nargiolet, British billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleiman, who was only 19.
US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mager explained at a press conference, ‘The explosion would have produced a significant, broadband noise that would have been picked up by the sonar buoys.
The message directed by James Cameron comes after it was revealed that Oceangate boss Rush was warned years ago that his ‘experimental approach’ could lead to a disaster – and in another interview he spoke of ‘breaking the rules’ to build submarines.
It could have been an instant death for the men, some of whom paid $250,000 to see the famous shipwreck.
In a gut-wrenching blow to their families, experts say they are unlikely to recover any remains.
‘It’s an incredibly unforgiving environment out there. The debris is consistent with a catastrophic explosion of the ship.. We will continue to work and explore the area down there – but I don’t have an answer to the possibilities at the moment,’ Paul Hankin, a deep sea expert involved in the search, said.
Five people were on board, including British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding and Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleiman, who is just 19 years old.
Oceangate campaign CEO Stockton Rush (right) with French Navy veteran PH Nargiolet (left) on the sub
In a heartbreaking tribute, Richard Garriott, president of the Explorers Club, of which both Harding and Nargiolet were members, said the men were drawn to explore ‘in the name of meaningful science for the betterment of mankind’.
‘Our hearts are broken. I am sorry to share this sad news,’ Garriott announced. He said the club was ‘grateful to all our members and the scientific and research community worldwide who mobilized personnel and resources to assist in the search and rescue’.
Garriott described Harding as a ‘dear friend’ of himself and the club. ‘He holds several world records and has put dragons off the map both personally and by supporting expeditions and worthy causes,’ he wrote.
‘We are heartbroken for the families, friends and colleagues of those lost. Their memory will be a blessing and inspire us in the name of science and exploration,’ said Garriott.
In addition to the ship’s landing frame and rear casing being the first debris identified, the ROV also found pieces of the submarine’s pressure hull – the main body of the submarine.
The debris is consistent with catastrophic damage to the pressure chamber. We notify the family immediately after this determination is made.
‘On behalf of the Coast Guard and the entire Unified Command, I offer my deepest condolences to the family.
‘I hope this discovery will provide some comfort in these difficult times,’ said Rear Admiral Mager.
In its own statement, Oceangate said this afternoon: ‘We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Daoud and his son Suleiman Daoud, Hamish Harding and Paul-Henri Nargiolet are sadly missing.
‘These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans.
‘Our hearts go out to these five souls and each member of their families at this difficult time. We mourn the loss of life and joy for all who knew them.’
The company added: ‘This is a very sad time for our dedicated staff who are exhausted and deeply saddened by this loss.
‘The entire Oceangate family is deeply grateful to the countless men and women from multiple organizations in the international community who have mobilized vast resources and worked very hard on this mission.
‘We appreciate their commitment to finding these five explorers and their tireless work day and night in support of our crew and their families.
‘This is a very sad time for the whole adventure community and for the family members of everyone lost at sea.
US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mager announces the men’s deaths at a news conference in Boston. The debris is consistent with catastrophic damage to the pressure chamber. We notify the family immediately after this determination is made. ‘On behalf of the Coast Guard and the entire Unified Command, I offer my deepest condolences to the family.’
In this US Coast Guard handout, a Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina HC-130 Hercules aircraft flies over the French research vessel, L’Atalante, about 900 miles east of Cape Cod during its search for the 21-foot submersible, Titan. , June 21, 2023 over the Atlantic Ocean
Flotilla of hope: Ten ships from the US, Canada and France rushed to the Titanic wreck earlier this week to help in the search.
‘We respectfully ask that this family’s privacy be respected at this most painful time.’
Earlier, David Mearns, who was a friend of the two men on board, said the ‘only saving grace’ for the men was how quickly they would have died.
The world was praying for a ‘miracle’ on Thursday at 7.08am EST (12.08pm UK time, 9.09pm Sydney) after rescuers speculated.
Officials said the field was found by the Odysseus 6k, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) deployed by the Canadian vessel, Horizon Arctic, which can dive below 20,000 feet of water.
A glimmer of hope came yesterday when the Coast Guard confirmed that a series of ‘banging’ sounds had been detected by P-3 aircraft, but search teams could not find the source of the sounds, or confirm that they were the world’s SOS signals. Hope for.
The families of the five people on board the sub have yet to publicly respond to news of the discovery of the wreckage.
Experts have warned for days of the possibility that Titan has sprung a leak and exploded at pressures 400 times greater than those experienced at sea level.
‘They’ll be dead before they know anything happened,’ L. David Marquette, a retired Navy nuclear submarine commander, said earlier this week.
Earlier on Thursday, before the wreckage was found, Rear Admiral John Mager, who coordinated the effort from Boston, said during an appearance on NBC’s Today show: ‘Human will to survive has to be accounted for.’
The submersible’s oxygen should theoretically have run out at 8am EST (1pm BST) on Thursday, according to the 96-hour limit listed in the ship’s OceanGate specs.
The Titan sank at 8am (1pm BST) and lost contact at 9.45am (2.45pm) but was not reported missing to the US Coast Guard until 5.40pm (10.40pm). The sub was scheduled to return to Polar Prince at 3pm EST (8pm BST) on Sunday.
Since Sunday night, a frantic, international effort has been underway to find it and save the men on board.
The French ship could have saved the Titan in this way if it had been tactfully found. Experts now say it likely exploded before any help arrived
A Royal Air Force A400M Atlas aircraft prepares for take off at RAF Lossiemouth
Kathleen Cosnett, cousin of UK businessman Hamish Harding, 58, who was on the sub, said the eight-hour delay before authorities were contacted was ‘too long’.
He told the Telegraph: ‘It’s so terrifying. It took so long to go to their rescue, it was too long. I would have thought three hours would be the minimum.’
The Titanic lost contact about 435 miles south of St. John’s, Newfoundland during its voyage off the coast of Canada on Sunday. The last ‘ping’ of its homing device was heard on Sunday afternoon – directly over the world’s most famous wreck.
A Canadian Navy ship carrying doctors specializing in the treatment of health problems related to deep sea diving arrived at the scene this morning at HMCS Glace Bay. They also brought a hyperbaric chamber – which can be used to decompress divers after returning to the surface.
Above the wreckage was a flotilla of at least ten ships, two robot subs and several aircraft scanning the Atlantic for any sign of the Titan as a rumble was heard from the golden depths. A Royal Navy submarine as well as equipment from a British company were sent to assist in the search.
Oceanographer and water exploration expert Dr David Gallo said on Thursday: ‘It’s going to be almost impossible. We need a miracle – but miracles will happen’.
But a former Royal Navy officer, Chris Parry, said as midday approached: ‘I’m afraid time is up – I don’t think there’s any chance of getting these men out alive now’.
Rescuers insisted they would continue to search for the men after the 96-hour oxygen window expired.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Capt. Jamie Frederick, Coast Guard response coordinator for the First Coast Guard District, said: ‘This is a search and rescue operation, 100 percent.’
A door with signage removed is seen at the Ocean Gate headquarters in the Waterfront Building within the Port of Everett complex in Everett, Washington.
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