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Stockton Rush, who is one of five people aboard his own company’s lost and likely doomed submersible which lost contact with the surface while diving to see the Titanic, said in 2022 that “safety just is pure waste.”
Rush, the CEO and founder of OceanGate Expeditions, spoke with CBS News reporter David Pogue on his podcast “Unsung Science” about a prospective trip to see the legendary shipwreck some 12,500 feet below the Atlantic surface off of Newfoundland.
“My whole life I wanted to be an astronaut,” Rush stated. “I went and got an aerospace engineering degree. I wanted to be a fighter pilot but my eyesight wasn’t good enough for that. That was when I had this epiphany that it wasn’t about going into space; it was about exploring. It was about finding new life forms.”
“I realized that the ocean is the universe,” he continued. “That is where life is, and it fit very well. It turns out that an aerospace engineering degree actually has helped me do things in the submersible world that people who don’t understand compressible fluid flow didn’t quite figure out.”
“Once you’re certain it’s not gonna collapse on everybody, everything else can fail. It doesn’t matter. Your thrusters can go; your lights can go; all these things can fail, you’re still gonna be safe,” he said. “You just have to be very careful that the life-support systems, the sub itself, the oxygen system, carbon dioxide scrubbing, all that stuff, that needs to be buttoned down.”
Rush spoke of the dangers involved in his work, saying, “There’s a limit. At some point, safety just is pure waste. If you just want to be safe, don’t get out of bed, don’t get into your car, don’t do anything. At some point, you’re gonna take some risk and it really is a risk-reward question. … I think I can do this just as safely by breaking the rules.”
He said what worried him was not going underwater with the submersible but the trip on the ship getting to the area of the dive, saying, “What worries us is not once you’re underwater; what worries me is when I’m getting you there.”
“What I worry about most are things that will stop me from being able to get to the surface,” he said. “Overhangs, fish nets, entanglement hazards. And, that’s just a technique, piloting technique. It’s pretty clear — if it’s an overhang, don’t go under it. If there’s a net, don’t go near it. So, you can avoid those if you are just slow and steady.”
Pogue wound up staying on the mothership while another team submerged but didn’t find the Titanic, ultimately surfacing but never losing contact with the surface.