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Experts share all 'red flag' signs that Titan sub was set for failure from the beginning

Experts share all 'red flag' signs that Titan sub was set for failure from the beginning

It's been one year since the five men took the fateful trip in the Titan sub

It has already been 12 months since the Titan submersible disaster.

On 18 June, 2023, five men embarked on a fateful voyage to visit the Titanic crash site which lies at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and never returned - and we can all remember where we were when we heard the news.

A massive search and rescue operation ensued shortly after communication from the OceanGate sub stopped - yet there was still some hope that it might have simply been unable to surface.

Rhythmic banging which appeared to take place every 30 minutes fuelled this optimism - but sadly it was too late.

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, 61, British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58, Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, British-Pakistani billionaire Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his 19-year-old son Suleman were those onboard.

The Titan suffered a catastrophic 'implosion' as a result of both enormous water pressure and failed materials during the group's descent, killing the five men and dually shocking the world.

A year on from the tragedy, a slew of details have emerged which suggest that the sub - masterminded by Rush - was an 'accident waiting to happen' and that several people had warned him it was unsafe.

Video game controller

Arguably many thought Rush's most questionable decision when creating the Titan submersible was to pilot it with a Logitech G F710 Wireless Gamepad, which is usually used to play video games.

The OceanGate CEO stated that steering the vessel 'shouldn't take a lot of skill'.

The controller, which can be powered by two AA batteries, was regarded as an unreliable bit of kit by experts - although some pointed out that manned and unmanned aircraft sometimes use similar devices.

Steve Wright, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of the West of England, told CBS News that a proper steering mechanism would have been a much safer bet.

"I would expect the 'real' submersible controller to have a reliability of about one thousand times that of the games handset," he said.

It's been a year since the tragic Titan sub disaster (OceanGate/Becky Kagan Schott)
It's been a year since the tragic Titan sub disaster (OceanGate/Becky Kagan Schott)

Lack of space

Despite intending to head off on a dive to the Titanic wreckage which would take around eight hours, the OceanGate submersible wasn't built with comfort in mind.

The five men had to slot themselves within the vessel - which measured just 670cm x 280cm x 250cm - for the doomed deep sea exploration, with only a single window to look out of.

There were no seats inside, so the group had to sit on the floor while having little room to move around.

It is claustrophobic to say the least - and passengers were advised to restrict their diet before and during the dive so that it would 'reduce the likelihood that they needed to use the bathroom facilities'.

This wasn't a private en suite, but rather a small box which those onboard would use behind a privacy curtain.

Materials

The submersible was controversially made from carbon fibre, which raised the eyebrows of some experts who reckoned it was 'experimental' before the craft had suffered the fatal implosion.

A year on, and research conducted at the University of Houston has suggested that this may have been a fatal mistake.

A study in the journal of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) explained that imperfections in thin-walled structures, such as the Titan sub's hull, could do serious damage when out in the depths of the ocean.

Research lead and professor of civil and environmental engineering, Roberto Ballarini, explained that the impact of previous dives may have also made it more prone to 'micro-buckling' under intense pressure.

However, the official cause of the implosion has not been determined.

Others have also pointed out many of the components used for the sub were 'flimsy and fragile', with former Royal Navy admiral Chris Parry saying you could get most of the stuff 'from Amazon'.

The five men were cramped inside the submersible in darkness (KING 5 Seattle/PA)
The five men were cramped inside the submersible in darkness (KING 5 Seattle/PA)

Lighting

Imagining the five men's final moments on board is terrifying enough, but thinking of them likely being sat in complete darkness makes it all the more horrifying.

Christine Dawood, the wife and mother of Shahzada and Suleman, spoke out shortly after learning the fate of her loved ones explaining that they were informed the vessel would be in the dark to save battery life.

With the floodlights and interior lights turned off, the only illumination would have come from computer screens, the light-up pens used to keep track of the descent on paper, and any bioluminescent creatures outside.

But according to CBS journalist David Pogue, who also went on a descent to the Titanic site, the interior was only lit up by 'camping lights' which were positioned on the ceiling.

He also claimed that budget security cameras were used as well as construction pipes as ballast.

Pogue admitted that he 'had some qualms' about boarding the sub, saying that 'a lot of components were off-the-shelf' and 'improvised'.

Missed signs

Although Rush had every faith in the dive in June 2023 being successful, experts reckon he should have taken heed of errors and issues which has occurred on several previous voyages.

Arthur Loibl climbed on the Titan to visit the Atlantic wreck site 12,500 feet beneath the surface in August 2021 and said he was 'incredibly lucky' to survive it - and claimed that the vessel was 'not safe'.

He alleged that it entered the water five hours behind schedule due to electrical problems before parts of the sub started crumbling off during the dive.

YouTuber Alan Estrada was on the Titan in July 2022 when it's battery life suddenly depleted, forcing the group to ditch their voyage and head back to the surface prematurely.

Josh Gates, who visited the Titanic wreckage in 2021, also claimed that the sub 'did not perform well' when he was onboard and said that he 'walked away from a huge opportunity to film Titanic due to my safety concerns with OceanGate'.

Stockton Rush was warned that the sub was an 'accident waiting to happen' (OceanGate)
Stockton Rush was warned that the sub was an 'accident waiting to happen' (OceanGate)

Lack of inspections

OceanGate decided against having the Titan 'classed' by independent inspectors to ensure it met technical standards amid concerns it would set them back by years.

The company, founded by Rush and Guillermo Söhnlein in 2009, explained that doing so would not 'ensure that operators adhere to proper operating procedures and decision-making processes - two areas that are much more important for mitigating risks at sea' in a blog post in 2019.

It continued: "While classing agencies are willing to pursue the certification of new and innovative designs and ideas, they often have a multi-year approval cycle due to a lack of pre-existing standards.

"Bringing an outside entity up to speed on every innovation before it is put into real-world testing is anathema to rapid innovation."

Many experts believe that bringing in a set of independent adjudicators to assess the vessel and making sure that it was fit for purpose could have prevented last year's tragedy.

Featured Image Credit: OceanGate/Becky Kagan Schott

Topics: Titan Submersible, Titanic, Technology, Science