The search for the Titan, the submersible carrying five passengers down to the wreckage of the Titanic, ended today when the US Coast Guard found debris from the vehicle indicating it imploded. James Cameron, the director of Titanic who himself has traveled to the wreck site over 33 times, compared the two incidents in an interview with ABC News, pointing out that the team behind the Titan ignored warnings about the vehicle’s structure.

Cameron designed and built a submersible that traveled to the Mariana Trench, one of the deepest points in the ocean. He recalled a rigorous set of safety protocols he and his fellow engineers were required to follow in building the vehicle, revealing that his team designed the sphere on a computer for over three years before actually building it and testing it in real life.

The Titan, however, strayed from traditional deep sea diving construction and testing. It was driven with a PlayStation controller, and visitors recalled thinking the team behind the sub may have “cut corners” in building it. As Cameron pointed out, “Many people in the community were very concerned about this sub, and a number of the top players in the deep submergence engineering community even wrote letters to the company saying that what they were doing was too experimental to carry passengers, and it needed to be certified, and so on.”


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As such, the director-explorer compared the lost sub to the lost ship it dove down to visit. “I’m struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself — where the captain was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship, and yet he steamed at full speed into an ice field on a moonless night, and many people died as a result,” Cameron said. “And for a very similar tragedy, where warnings went unheeded, to take place at the same exact site — with all the diving that’s going on, all around the world — I think is just astonishing. I think it’s really quite surreal.”

At the time of its implosion, the Titan was being driven by Stockton Rush, the founder and chief executive of parent company OceanGate Expeditions. Also aboard the submersible were Hamish Harding, a British aviator; Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French maritime expert and friend of Cameron’s; Shahzada Dawood, a British-Pakistani businessman; and Dawood’s 19-year-old son, Suleman.


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