The founder of the company whose submersible became lost on a dive to view the wreckage of the Titanic, sparking a frantic, deep-sea rescue effort that has riveted people around the world, once declared he didn’t want to hire “50-year-old white guys” on his team even if they were seasoned submariners.
Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, is aboard the submerged vessel along with billionaire explorer Hamish Harding, French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet, and British businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman. Since the 22-foot craft lost contact with the surface early Sunday, critics have come forward to blast the company’s safety practices. But Rush was previously adamant that he values youth over experience when it comes to assembling his crews.
“When I started the business, one of the things you’ll find, there are other sub operators out there, but they typically have gentlemen who are ex-military sub-mariners, and they — you’ll see a whole bunch of 50-year-old white guys,” Rush told Teledyne Marine representatives before the expedition began. Teledyne Marine made the sonar systems and the navigation systems for the vessel.
“I wanted our team to be younger, to be inspirational,” he continued. “And I’m not going to inspire a 16-year-old to go pursue marine technology, but a 25-year-old who’s a sub pilot or a platform operator, one of our techs, can be inspirational. So we’ve really tried to get very intelligent, motivated, younger individuals involved because we’re doing things that are completely new.”
“We’re taking approaches that are used largely in the aerospace industry as related to safety and some of the preponderance of checklists, things we do for risk assessments, things like that that are more aviation-related than ocean-related,” he declared. “We can train people to do that; we can train someone to pilot the sub. We use like game controller so anybody can drive the sub.”
Aaron Amick, founder of Sub Brief, who served as a U.S. Navy contractor and provided strategic and policy level consultation for domestic and international clients on cleared Navy projects, played the call from Rush in a video explaining some of the problems the beleaguered vessel may have faced as it has reputedly sunk to a depth of 12,000 feet below the surface.
“You don’t want to only hire young college graduates that you would then train to inspire the next generation,” Amick opined. “You have to have subject matter experts at some point in the chain. And I’m not talking about the vice-admiral that’s on the board of directors … but you don’t seem to have a subject matter expert that’s from the submarine community, that could maybe talk about some of the problems.”