James Cameron, the famous director of the hit film Titanic and a deep-sea explorer, said Thursday that the diving community raised the alarm about the tourist submersible Titan long before authorities announced the likely deaths of five people aboard the vessel.
On the same day authorities said everyone aboard the submarine was presumed dead after a “catastrophic implosion,” Cameron reacted to the announcement in an interview with ABC News.
“A lot of people in the community were very concerned about this sub,” Cameron said. “A number of the top players in the deep submergence engineering community even wrote letters to the company saying what they were doing was too experimental to carry passengers and needed to be certified, etc.”
Related story: Missing Titanic sub described as ‘Jerry-Rigged’ in CBS segment resurfaces (video)
The filmmaker drew parallels between the Titan and the Titanic tragedy, pointing out disregard for warnings in both.
“I am struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself, where the captain was repeatedly warned of ice ahead of his ship, and yet he steamed full speed across an ice field on a moonless night. and many people died as a result,” Cameron said.
“For us, a very similar tragedy where the warnings went unheeded, to take place in exactly the same place with all the dives taking place around the world, I think is just amazing. It’s really quite surreal “, he continued.
Cameron added that he was a long-time friend of one of the Titan passengers and that sensors likely alerted the passengers that something was wrong just before tragedy struck.
“This OceanGate submarine had sensors inside a hull to warn them when it was starting to crack,” he said. “And I think if that’s your idea of security, then you’re wrong. They had probably been warned that their hull was beginning to peel, to crack.
The filmmaker himself made 33 trips to the site of the wreckage of the Titanic and claimed he spent more time on the ship than the man who ran it in 1912.
There were 2,200 passengers and crew on the Titanic and around 1,500 died during the voyage, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The wreck was discovered in 1985 at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
In addition to his 1997 feature film TitanicCameron directed the 2003 documentary Ghosts of the Abyssat the ship’s final underwater resting place – further deepening his connection to the ship.
The Titan submarine was operated by OceanGate Expeditions. The Everett, Wash.-based company began operating trips to the Titanic wreck site in 2021 and charged passengers up to $250,000.
On Thursday afternoon, the US Coast Guard said a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) had identified a “debris field” near the wreck site.
Coast Guard First District Rear Admiral John Mauger told a news conference that the debris “is consistent with a catastrophic implosion” of the Titan submarine.
The five people aboard the vessel have been identified as Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate Expeditions; British billionaire Hamish Harding; French diving expert Paul Henry Nargeolet; and prominent Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman.
Following news of the presumed death of the crew, the company operating the submersible issued a statement on Twitterhonoring passengers as “true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure”.
The Titan disappeared off the coast of Canada on Sunday June 18, after beginning a voyage to view the Titanic 13,000 feet below the surface of the North Atlantic.
The search for the submersible lasted four days.
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