MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Concerns about sub’s ‘potential extreme danger’ to passengers raised years before it vanished

Jun 21, 2023, 6:41 AM | Updated: 8:44 am

Sub that carried people to Titanic was not certified. (Photo from KIRO 7)

(Photo from KIRO 7)

 The disappearance of a submersible in the North Atlantic with five people aboard is bringing earlier safety concerns to light.

Everett-based OceanGate faced a 2018 complaint filed by a former employee.



According to court documents, David Lochridge claimed he was fired for expressing concerns about the vessel’s safety. The company sued Lochridge, accusing him of disclosing confidential information.

Lochridge responded with a court filing, saying he advised OceanGate to conduct more tests on the vessel’s hull.

The document added that Lochridge believed the company could “subject passengers to potential extreme danger in an experimental submersible.”

OceanGate has said the vessel can dive about 13,000 feet with a comfortable safety margin. The wreckage of the Titanic, which the missing sub, Titan, was touring, is nearly 13,000 feet below the surface.

Also in 2018, the trade group Marine Technology Society wrote to OceanGate with its reservations about the sub’s safety.

According to the New York Times, the group was concerned that OceanGate’s “experimental” approach could have potentially “catastrophic” effects that could impact their industry.

In addition, OceanGate CEO Rush Stockton was sued for fraud this year by a couple who had their expedition aboard the Titan canceled several times due to safety concerns and equipment failure.

The structure of Titan has also come under scrutiny, with a clip from last year’s CBS Sunday Morning feature about the vessel now going viral. It’s received almost 20 million views as of Tuesday evening.

CBS science correspondent David Rogue went onboard Titan in 2022, and at the time, he questioned the safety of the vessel, and read aloud the disclaimer he had to sign for the voyage.

“An experimental submersible vessel that has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body, and could result in physical injury, disability, emotional trauma, or death,” Rogue read aloud.

The piece also showed a game controller that was being used to navigate the vessel.

“I couldn’t help noticing how many pieces of this sub seemed improvised,” Rogue said in his report.

“We run this whole thing with this game controller,” Rush said.

But Rush stressed that critical safety elements were “buttoned down” – like the pressure vessel, which he said OceanGate worked on with Boeing, NASA, and the University of Washington.

Our reporter Deedee Sun spoke with marine salvage expert Bob Mester on Tuesday about what may have happened to the submersible and his thoughts about whether those on board can survive.



MyNorthwest News

Listen to the discussion from KIRO Newsradio's John & Shari show....

Bill Kaczaraba

John & Shari video: Training for local firefighters ‘destructive’

Local fire departments have suspended their Diversity Equity Inclusion training.

13 hours ago

Image: Seattle Police Department dashcam video shows officers' pursuit of two juveniles who carjack...

Kate Stone

Boys, ages 12 and 13, who led police on car chase given different outcomes after court appearances

Seattle detectives believe the woman was reporting her two children, but she did not provide their names or indicate she knew them.

14 hours ago

A Seattle Police Department vehicle....

Steve Coogan and Sam Campbell

Seattle police officers given 9 hour suspensions after slow shooting response

A new report has revealed two Seattle Police Department officers took over 20 minutes to get to a shooting scene a mile away in late 2022.

15 hours ago

Food delivery biker...

Heather Bosch

Delivery apps adding a side dish of ‘worry’ for restaurants, customers

This should be a joyous time for entrepreneurs, but Seattle's new delivery driver pay standards - and the app-based companies that use them - have served up a side dish of worry.

15 hours ago

cap rent criminal background checks...

Bill Kaczaraba

Survey: Washingtonians ‘unhappy’ with the lack of affordable housing

Washington residents are more "unhappy" than others in the nation about the price of housing.

16 hours ago

kent trooper shot...

Kate Stone

Man faces multiple charges after WSP trooper shooting in Kent

A man accused of shooting a Washington State Patrol trooper multiple times in Kent last Friday has been charged.

16 hours ago

Concerns about sub’s ‘potential extreme danger’ to passengers raised years before it vanished