The nine so-called "mission specialists" allowed on each expedition—three on each dive—will pay $125,000 for an eight-day sail from St. John's, Newfoundland. Their single dive will take six to eight hours to reach the Titanic site, explore, and return to the surface ship.
If all goes as planned, they will be among the first guests to visit the wreck in 15 years, [OceanGate President Stockton] Rush says. Covid-19 has not dampened enthusiasm for the 2021 expedition, according to the company.
During the dives, paying passengers will be regarded as citizen scientists expected to assist in a technical survey of the wreck and what Rush says is the Titanic's debris field, which stretches 25 square nautical miles.
While it will cost you $125,000 to explore Leonardo DiCaprio's watery grave, you still need to apply as well. (Though I suspect that, if you're wealthy enough, they may be willing to overlook the meritocratic system.
Here's a few more details from the company's website:
The 2021 Titanic Survey Expeditions has space for a handful of guests to participate in one of six missions to the historic site.
Your presence aboard this monumental mission, along with world-renowned Titanic researchers, puts you at the forefront of essential research, and helps secure funding for the survey and its discoveries.
OceanGate is at the forefront of engineering and building the world's most advanced deep-diving 5-person submersibles on earth. Through the innovative use of materials, state-of-the-art technology and a streamlined design, OceanGate's subs not only deliver on comfort, but are equipped with multiple external cameras, multibeam sonar, 50 thousand lumens of external light, a laser scanner, and the largest transparent viewports of any deep-diving submersibles.
Our Mission Specialists, or citizen scientists are members of the public who engage in hands-on research. Aboard the surface supply ship, they will help with navigation, maintenance, and cataloguing our once-in-a-lifetime historical finds. Aboard the submersible, they will descend to the ocean floor and soar over the wreck, skimming the ship's deck as cameras and lasers create a detailed 3D model.
For Stockton Rush, the man behind the program, this is all essentially a means of subsidizing his Jacques Cousteau aspirations. It's basically The Life Aquatic as a luxury experience for the already-wealthy. Rush has an aerospace engineering degree from Princeton and an MBA from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, and has previously worked with both Boeing and NASA to design his "streamlined carbon-fiber sub," appropriately named Titan. While he comes from inherited wealth, he's also been supported in the past by angel investors and venture investors.
This isn't the first time he's tried to make it down to the Titanic, either. A 2018 trip — booked with the same 9 people who booked the first planned Virgin Galactic flight — was scrapped after lightning hit the sub during a test run in the Bahamas; a 2019 trip was also cancelled after "last-minute problems" with the vendor running the host ship. "If this was just another money-losing wealthy person's activity, I don't see how it scales," he told Bloomberg. "We don't take passengers, we don't do trips, we don't do rides. We're doing an expedition.
"There are better wrecks, maybe even more important wrecks, but people don't know what they are, and it's hard to sell something when somebody doesn't know."
Weekly Dives to the Titanic Will Begin in May [Fran Golden / Bloomberg]
Stockton Rush: Meet the Man Leading Tours of The Titanic [Beth Timmins / The Independent]
Image: Public Domain via NOAA/Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island (NOAA/IFE/URI)/Wikimedia Commons