OceanGate, the company that owned and operated the submarine that sank the Titanic wreck, received $447,000 in government loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, records show.
The government loan was issued in April 2020, in the first round of the Emergency Pandemic Program, and was used to cover Oceangate’s salary costs during the COVID-19 shutdown, according to records published by ProPublica.
The entire loan amount was eventually forgiven under the terms of the program, which required companies to use the funds for the stated purpose and refrain from layoffs. Records show Oceangate had 22 employees at the time.
OceanGate founder and CEO Stockton Rush was killed last weekend on the company’s Titan submarine, along with passengers Shahzada Daoud and his son Suleiman Daoud, British explorer Hamish Harding and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargiolet.
In October 2020, Rush said that during the pandemic the company spent most of the business break developing a new hull for the Titan, after deep water tests raised concerns that it was not strong enough for repeated stress cycles.
Oceangate founder and CEO Stockton Rush was killed on the company’s Titan submersible last weekend. His company received PPP loans during the pandemic
In October 2020, Rush said that during the pandemic the company spent most of the business break building a new hull for the Titan, seen above.
Rush told GeekWire at the time that the Titan’s new hull was being built at Washington state firms ElectroImpact and Janicki Industries.
Janicki Industries did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement to Newstimesuk.com, ElectroImpact chief operating officer Austin Clarke said: ‘Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives on Titan. At this time, we have no further comment.’
In July 2021, the carbon-fiber and titanium submersible completed its first 3,800-meter dive to the Titanic’s wreck site, according to an Oceangate press release.
Rush said in a statement at the time, ‘We had to overcome tremendous engineering, operational, business and ultimately COVID-19 challenges to get here, and I’m very proud of this team and grateful for the support of our many partners.’
Rush was piloting the Titan on Sunday, when the submarine exploded while diving at the wreck site of the Titanic, killing five people on board instantly.
On Thursday, officials confirmed there were no survivors, bringing a tragic end to a five-day saga that included an around-the-clock search for an urgent but ultimately futile sub.
An investigation into what happened is already underway and will continue in the area around the Titanic where the diver’s wreckage was found, said Rear Adm. John Mager of the First Coast Guard District.
‘I know there are also many questions about how, why and when it happened. These are questions we will now collect as much information as possible,’ Mager said.
Magar said it was a ‘complex case’ that took place in a remote part of the ocean and involved people from different countries.
US Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mager, commander of the 1st Coast Guard District, speaks to the media Thursday at Microphone Center, Coast Guard Base Boston.
The Titanic is set to dive into the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday to view the wreckage of the Titanic
The first hint of a timeline came Thursday evening when a senior US Navy official said that after the Titan disappeared on Sunday, the Navy went back and analyzed its acoustic data and found an ‘anomaly’ that was consistent with an explosion or explosion. In the general vicinity of where the vessel was operating when communication was lost.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive acoustic detection system commonly used to hunt military submarines.
Titan launched at 6 a.m. Sunday and began traveling about 435 miles south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Sunday afternoon. Rescuers take ships, aircraft and other equipment to the site of the disappearance.
Any hope of finding the crew alive was dashed early Thursday, when the submarine’s 96-hour air supply was expected to run out and the Coast Guard announced that wreckage had been found about 1,600 feet from the Titanic.
‘The debris is consistent with catastrophic damage to the pressure chamber,’ Mager said.
The Coast Guard said Thursday that sounds detected during the search — which gave rescuers some hope that people might be alive — were likely generated by something other than the Titan.
The Navy official who spoke about the ‘inconsistency’ on Sunday said the Navy had passed the information on to the Coast Guard, which was continuing its search because the information was not considered conclusive.
Tributes to the victims and praise for the searchers who tried to save them came from around the world.
Harding’s family said in a statement: ‘He was one of a kind and we adored him… What he achieved in his lifetime was truly remarkable and if we can take any small comfort from this tragedy, we have lost. He was doing what he loved.’
In a statement beginning with a Quranic verse, the Dawood family thanked the rescuers: ‘Their tireless efforts have been a source of strength for us at this time, we are also indebted to our friends, family, colleagues and well-wishers from around the world. Those who stand by us in our need.’
A longtime friend and colleague of Nargiolet told French media that when contact was lost on Sunday, he quickly feared the worst.
‘Unfortunately, I immediately thought of an explosion,’ diver and retired underwater filmographer Christian Petron told broadcaster France-Info on Friday. At the depths at which the submarine was operating, the pressure was intense and unforgiving, he noted.
‘Of course, the slightest problem with the hull and its explosion is immediate,’ said Petron.
Director James Cameron, who made multiple dives on the wreck of the Titanic, told the BBC that he knew an ‘extremely catastrophic event’ had occurred when he heard that the submersible had simultaneously lost navigation and communication.
‘For me, there was no doubt,’ said Cameron. ‘There was no trace. When they finally got an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) there that could probe the depth, they found it in a few hours. Perhaps in a few minutes.’
He said the 96-hour briefing and scrambling of oxygen supplies was a ‘protracted and nightmarish event’ that had given false hope to the crew members’ families.
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