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HomeEconomyInside the Deep Dive: OceanGate's Risky Submersible Tactics Come into Focus

Inside the Deep Dive: OceanGate’s Risky Submersible Tactics Come into Focus

The undersea exploration company OceanGate has recently come under scrutiny for allegedly exposing its paying customers to conditions that it may not expose media or celebrity personalities too. The claims come from Arnie Weissmann, a travel editor, whose trip on the company’s submersible, Titan, was canceled a month prior to the tragic incident in which the submersible imploded, leading to the unfortunate demise of all five people on board.

Weissmann was on track to dive into the remains of the legendary Titanic in May. His journey got as far as the mothership and into the Titan, but was abruptly canceled, with OceanGate attributing the decision to adverse wind, swells, and fog. However, Weissmann has expressed doubts about these reasons, questioning the company’s readiness for the trip.

OceanGate’s protocol, as explained by Weissmann, suggested that the company would automatically cancel trips if a set of specific conditions were met. The list of conditions intriguingly included factors such as wind exceeding 10 knots, new team members on the staff, or the presence of a celebrity or a media member. Weissmann’s concerns arise from the implication that, in his absence, the company might have proceeded with a dive that was otherwise borderline unsafe.

Paying customers were charged a hefty $250,000 per head, although some reports suggest discounted rates were also offered. With such high stakes involved, Weissmann’s concerns throw into sharp relief the company’s approach to managing risk and safety during its undersea expeditions.

Weissmann, in his account, praised OceanGate’s seeming risk-averse operation. He noted the careful planning, the thorough preparations for dives, and his interactions with the CEO, Stockton Rush, who was among the casualties in the Titan’s disastrous final trip. He observed a commitment to safety procedures, such as pausing for five minutes after any complex repairs to reflect on the work done and ensure no steps were missed.

His report also includes conversations with the late Paul-Henry Nargeolet, a Titanic expert and another victim of the Titan’s implosion. Despite the chillingly casual acknowledgment of the risks involved in deep-sea diving, Nargeolet seemed to express unwavering trust in the submersible’s durability.

Weissmann’s account paints a picture of mixed signals. On the one hand, a significant discount on the carbon fiber used in Titan’s construction – sourced from Boeing due to its being past its shelf life for use in airplanes, according to Rush. On the other hand, three successful Titanic trips prior to the disaster. Delayed voyages, aborted attempts due to lost communications, and safety warnings all blend into a backdrop of mounting concern about the safety of the Titan submersible.

OceanGate and its CEO, the late Stockton Rush, have repeatedly reassured the public and stakeholders about the submersible’s safety. However, these reassurances contrast sharply with Rush’s past dismissal of many safety regulations as overbearing constraints on innovation. As this story continues to unfold, the deep-sea exploration community and its investors are left grappling with the balance between safety, risk, and the relentless drive for discovery.

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