In 2022, CBS correspondent David Pogue was invited onboard the OceanGate submersible — the one that is currently lost with five passengers on board — for a visit to the Titanic with paying passengers. But, although it ended well, his account of the trip upon his return wasn't all that rosy.
In fact, he said that during his underwater adventure "communications somehow broke down," and the sub — which has no underwater GPS — got lost for 2 1/2 hours. He also described the sub parts as seemingly "improvised," including a video game controller that piloted the vessel.
Before Pogue boarded the craft he admitted he was nervous — especially, I assume, after he was given papers to sign that warned, "This experimental vessel has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body, and could result in physical injury, emotional trauma, or death."
Today The New York Times reports that four years before that, in 2018, OceanGate was warned by leaders in the submersible industry that the "experimental" craft could run into potential "catastrophic" problems. More than three dozen experts who signed the letter "had 'unanimous' concern" that OceanGate wasn't following "existing classification safety guidelines."
From the New York Times:
Leaders in the submersible craft industry were so worried about what they called the "experimental" approach of OceanGate, the company whose craft has gone missing, that they wrote a letter in 2018 warning of possible "catastrophic" problems with the submersible's development and its planned mission to tour the Titanic wreckage.
The letter, obtained by The New York Times, was sent to OceanGate's chief executive, Stockton Rush, by the Manned Underwater Vehicles committee of the Marine Technology Society, a 60-year-old trade group that aims to promote ocean technology and educate the public about it.
The signatories — more than three dozen people, including oceanographers, submersible company executives and deep-sea explorers — warned that they had "unanimous concern" about OceanGate's development of the Titan submersible, the same craft that is now missing in the North Atlantic with five people on board.
The letter said that OceanGate's marketing of the Titan had been "misleading," because it claimed that the craft would meet or exceed the safety standards of a risk assessment agency known as DNV, yet the company had no plans to have the craft assessed by the agency.
"This letter was basically asking them to please do what the other submarines do, especially the passenger ones," said Mr. Kemper, a forensic engineer who works on submarine designs…
But there was pushback to the letter from OceanGate's CEO Stockton Rush, who said that following the guidelines would slow down innovation. "Bringing an outside entity up to speed on every innovation before it is put into real-world testing is anathema to rapid innovation," his company said. And so he continued to rapidly innovate.
As of now search and rescue teams are still looking for the lost passengers, with presumably less than two days of oxygen left.