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RMS Titanic Inc. is looking into claims made by OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush about the safety of his submersible after one of the foundation’s leaders died when the sub imploded last week.
On June 19, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, the director of underwater research for RMS Titanic Inc., boarded the 22-foot Titan submersible with four other passengers, including Rush, on a voyage to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean to view the Titanic wreckage. All five aboard the Titan likely died hours after the underwater trip began, and Nargeolet’s foundation is seeking answers.
“We have now our own internal questions about the representations [OceanGate] made that we made the basis on giving PH the OK to go,” Jessica Sanders, the president of RMS Titanic Inc., told The New York Post. “We’re going back and looking at that now ourselves internally, because there were representations not only made to us, but made to the court, that now we have to go back and verify because of these stories that are coming up that question them.”
Rush reportedly told passengers that the Titan was “way safer than flying in a helicopter or even scuba diving,” but red flags surrounded the submersible years before the disaster. Those wishing to squeeze into the submersible roughly the size of a minivan had to sign waivers accepting the possibility of injury or death, and before Titan’s latest trek, OceanGate faced multiple warnings from people inside and outside the company, as well as a lawsuit from an employee flagging what he saw as massive safety issues.
Rush proudly used off-the-shelf items and “discounted” parts when he built the Titan and steered the vessel with a game controller. The OceanGate CEO also once said he didn’t want to hire “50-year-old white guys” on his team even if they were seasoned submariners.
Sanders said Nargeolet joined the OceanGate expedition as a guest, and not for research purposes, according to the Post. Nargeolet approached the foundation, asking for approval to join OceanGate’s voyage to the Titanic, and after careful consideration, RMS Titanic Inc. said yes. The 77-year-old Frenchman was one the first people to visit the Titanic wreckage in 1987, and he went on to re-visit the Titanic wreckage roughly 35 times.
“If you didn’t get a chance to meet PH, it really is your loss,” Sanders said. “You ever meet somebody that always has a really great story that’s always semi-unbelievable? … That was who he was.”
Those aboard the Titan likely died “in milliseconds,” according to experts who spoke after pieces of the vessel were discovered. Rush and Nargeolet were joined by billionaire explorer Hamish Harding and British businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman.