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HomeTechTitanic Submersible's Thruster Mishap Reveals Deep-Sea Dive Dangers

Titanic Submersible’s Thruster Mishap Reveals Deep-Sea Dive Dangers

You’re over two miles below the surface of the ocean, comfortably seated inside a state-of-the-art submersible on a mission to explore the legendary Titanic wreckage. Suddenly, the pilot loses control. The thrusters misfire, the vessel spins uncontrollably, and you find yourself only 1,000 feet from the massive shipwreck.

That’s exactly the nightmare scenario that played out last summer on OceanGate’s Titanic submersible, the Titan.

Scott Griffith, the man at the helm during this dive, saw his routine exploration mission morph into a terrifying ordeal as thruster issues led to the sub losing control and spiraling in circles. The shocking incident was captured on video for a BBC Travel Show episode, which provided an unprecedented glimpse into the risks that come with deep-sea exploration.

In the video, Griffith can be heard inquiring, “Am I spinning?” A simple, yet foreboding “yes” from another passenger confirms the unsettling reality. In a situation no pilot would envy, Griffith found himself trying to navigate with one thruster pushing forward and the other in reverse. This left him with no other option but to spin the sub in 360-degree circles.

Renata Rojas, a Mexican diver aboard the Titan at the time, recounted her chilling experience to the BBC: “You know I was thinking ‘We’re not going to make it.’ We’re literally 300 meters from the Titanic and although we’re in the debris field we can’t go anywhere but go in circles.”

Fortunately, the Titan’s troubles didn’t end in catastrophe. OceanGate CEO, Stockton Rush, was able to communicate with the beleaguered sub and eventually rectify its course toward the shipwreck.

The harrowing incident underscored the risks associated with deep-sea exploration, even with modern, high-tech equipment. It also foreshadowed an even graver incident. On June 18th, contact with the Titan was lost during a Titanic expedition, with subsequent wreckage suggesting a catastrophic implosion that claimed the lives of all five onboard.

In the wake of these incidents, questions have been raised about the operational safety measures at OceanGate. Some former employees and industry experts have openly expressed their safety concerns. Josh Gates, host of the Discovery Channel’s “Expedition Unknown,” even declined an opportunity to dive with OceanGate in 2021 due to such apprehensions.

“We had issues with thruster control,” Gates stated. “We had issues with the computers aboard, we had issues with comms. I just felt as though the sub needed more time, and it needed more testing, frankly.”

This disconcerting event underscores the precarious nature of deep-sea explorations and the importance of stringent safety protocols. It’s a stark reminder for entrepreneurs and investors in the submersible industry that pushing the boundaries of exploration often comes with considerable risks, and utmost caution should be practiced when navigating these uncharted territories.