A former Oceangate consultant said the doomed Titan sub ‘collapsed within two milliseconds’, killing five passengers before they knew their immediate deaths.
Submersible expert Rob McCallum, who worked with Stockton Rush’s company early in its development, said the sheer impact of the implosion at 12,500ft meant the passengers ‘ceased to exist’ before their brains could detect it.
The experimental submarine crashed into the Titanic wreckage last month, killing five people on board, including the CEO.
The former Oceangate contractor also said he became increasingly concerned with the experimental nature of the ship and left the company when Rush announced he was going to start commercial tours of the Titanic wreck.
McCallum branded the initiative a ‘ticking time bomb’ and said he was ‘not surprised’ by the tragedy.
Rob McCallum, who worked early on in the company’s development of Stockton Rush, said the doomed Titan sub would ‘collapse in two milliseconds’.
The Oceangate Titan submarine crashed into the Titanic wreckage last month, killing five people on board, including the CEO.
Explaining to 60 Minutes Australia what he believes would have happened to the ship, McCallum said: ‘The entire volume of a submarine collapses in about two milliseconds.
‘And the human brain takes 25 milliseconds to detect a threat.
‘It’s not so much that you die,’ he concluded, ‘it’s that you cease to exist. It’s almost the perfect ending.’
Tourists Hamish Harding, 58, Shahzada Daoud, 48, and his son Suleiman Daoud, 19, French Navy pilots Paul-Henri Nargiolet and Rush all drowned on June 18 after capsizing in the mid-Atlantic.
Five passengers began disembarking as Rush piloted the ship. At 9:45 it lost contact with its mothership, the Polar Prince.
It took eight hours for the US Coast Guard to report the sub missing after OceanGate Expeditions lost contact.
As a result, there was a huge international response to the rescue of the five passengers. As the hours and estimated oxygen ticked down ships from around the world began to trek in to aid in the search for the missing sub.
Days later, it was announced that five people aboard the sub were believed to have been killed in a possible explosion.
Tourists Hamish Harding (top left), 58, Shahzada Daoud, 48, and his son Suleiman Daoud (bottom right), 19, French Navy pilots Paul-Henri Nargiolet (bottom left) and Rush (top right) all died after sinking in the mid-Atlantic on June 18.
Pictured: File photo of the inside of the OceanGate Expeditions sub that exploded last month
McCallum adds to the mountain of scrutiny that has piled on Rush and his methods since the horrific disaster that captured the world’s attention last month.
The deputy expert claimed the passengers were ‘dive into what was really a ticking time bomb.’
‘I can’t say I’m surprised from a technical point of view. That is why we have tried so hard to prevent it.’
He said he left the company after becoming concerned about the experimental system and was not satisfied with the experimental system. He said the desire to ‘break the rules’ was ‘absolutely reckless’.
‘They were very proud of flaunting accepted norms, and if you’re going to flaunt an accepted norm you really have to know what you’re doing and I wasn’t sure that level of expertise was there.’
McCullum further scolded the experimental sub. He said he thought it was ‘great fun breaking the world record’ but ‘if everyone doesn’t take it home, they don’t count’.
McCallum was not the only one to raise serious concerns. David Lochridge, the company’s then chief pilot and director of marine operations, was fired and sued after raising a number of serious concerns about the vessel.
Carl Stanley suggested that Stockton Rush (pictured) was willing to risk his life and that of his clients to ‘go down in history’
Lochridge wrote an engineering report in 2018 saying the ship needed further testing and passengers could be endangered if it reached ‘extreme depths’, according to a lawsuit filed that year in US District Court in Seattle.
The company emphasized that Lochridge was ‘not an engineer and was not employed or asked to perform engineering services on Titan’. The company also said the vessel under development was a prototype, not the now-defunct Titan.
The Marine Technology Society, which describes itself as ‘a professional group of marine engineers, technologists, policy-makers and academics’, expressed concern in a letter to Rush that year.
The society said it was important for the company to submit its prototype to an expert third-party-supervised test before launch to protect passengers.
Addressing the number of concerns, McCallum said: ‘If someone raised safety concerns, as the chief pilot did, they were not only listened to, they were silenced.
‘It’s a toxic culture when it comes to safety and it’s the opposite of what I know in the maritime industry,’ he concluded.
Reflecting on the whole event, MacCallum considered that the Titanic was ‘a turning point in maritime history’ but that recent tragedies show that despite technological advances, ‘nature is very much in control’.
He said of the Titanic, ‘Here was a machine that was the biggest, the fastest ever built – the pride and joy of human engineering.
‘And Mother Nature changed our attitude and told us in one fell swoop that we are not the masters of the universe.’
David Lochridge (pictured), formerly Oceangate’s director of marine operations for Project Titan, wrote an engineering report in 2018 that said the craft under development needed further testing.
Rush’s friend claims he warned the CEO about an area of the ship that was cracked
But after McCallum’s comments, Oceangate co-founder Guillermo Sohenlein said he had to ‘stand up’ and say ‘what we were doing was right and going in the right direction’.
Söhnlein said OceanGate’s initiatives are about advancing people’s understanding of the ocean and ‘giving humanity access to these resources that can bring everyone down to the ocean.’
The co-founder – who left the company ten years ago but remains a shareholder – dismissed Rush by labeling him ‘reckless’ and portraying him as a ‘risk taker’ and ‘maverick’. He said that during the time they worked together he never saw his ex-partner take unnecessary risks.
Asked whether paying passengers on an unclassified sub on the Titanic was a risk, Sohnlein said: ‘I know two of the other four crew members were lost and would have cried if they were identified as tourists or passengers.
‘They considered themselves explorers, they considered themselves part of the crew. They considered that their financial investment was going towards a scientific research and ocean exploration.’
It comes after a friend of Rush’s claimed the Oceangate CEO designed ‘mouse traps for billionaires’ and accused him of killing his clients.
In the same recent documentary, submarine operator Carl Stanley, a close friend of Rush and one of the first passengers on the Titan, said the Oceangate CEO ‘definitely knew it was going to end this way’ as he recalled hearing noises during his dive.
‘He went out with quite literally and figuratively the biggest shock in human history that you can go out with,’ he said.
‘Who was the last person to kill two billionaires at once, and pay them for the privilege?’
Stanley also suggested that Rush was willing to risk his and his clients’ lives to ‘go down in history’.
Submarine operator Carl Stanley says Oceangate CEO Stockton Rush designed ‘mousetrap for billionaires’
Stanley shares the frantic emails he sent Rush warning him about Hull
He shared how he heard a ‘loud gunshot sound’ during the 2019 Titan with Rush landing in the Bahamas.
Stanley told 60 Minutes, ‘It’s a sound to hear when you go under the sea in a craft that once went down that deep.
The submersible expert recalled telling Rush that he believed there was an area of the hull that was collapsing.
Stanley sent frantic emails warning Rush about the hull and said he even ‘drew a picture of his wrecked sub below’.
Even this was not enough to convince his friend that the ship was not safe.
Stanley said he was shifting between grief and anger because the tragedy, he explained, was both preventable and inevitable.
He had ‘no doubt’ that the explosion was caused by ‘carbon fiber tubes’ – the area he had warned Rush about.
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