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23rd Jun 2023

James Cameron found out Titanic sub had imploded on Monday

Steve Hopkins

‘This entire week has felt like a prolonged and nightmarish charade’

Director James Cameron knew the submersible carrying five people to the Titanic had imploded on Monday and has called out the “prolonged and nightmarish charade” of the race against time to find the Titan.

Five people aboard the OceanGate vessel are believed to have been killed instantly in a “catastrophic implosion” during its dive to the Titanic on Sunday. Communications were lost with the Titan one hour and 45 minutes after it set off, sparking a massive international search as emergency oxygen supplies were due to expire around midday Thursday.

The US Coast Guard later announced that debris had been found on the seabed, 1,600 feet (488 meters) from the bow of the Titanic, leaving experts to determine “a catastrophic implosion of the vehicle” that has claimed the lives of everyone on board: British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, 61, French navy veteran Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his son Suleman, 19.

Titanic director, Cameron, has since told how he had been told a “loud bang” had occurred at the moment that the submersible lost contact with the surface.

“We got confirmation within an hour that there had been a loud bang at the same time that the sub comms were lost,” he has been quoted as saying.

“A loud bang on the hydrophone. Loss of transponder. Loss of comms. I knew what happened. The sub imploded.”

He added that he’d told colleagues in an email: “We’ve lost some friends. It’s on the bottom in pieces right now.”

Cameron also lamented the focus on the emergency oxygen supply, that dominated news coverage this week. The vessel had 96-hours of oxygen, which sparked a grim countdown as the rescue mission was underway.

“This entire week has felt like a prolonged and nightmarish charade where people are running around talking about banging noises and talking about oxygen,” he said.

“We now have another wreck that is based on unfortunately the same principles of not heeding warnings. OceanGate were warned.”

Cameron went on to say that he knows of a letter written by others in the deep submergence community which told OceanGate that they believed it was “on a path to catastrophe:”. He did not say if he was included on that letter.

“People in the community were very concerned about this sub. 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 that needed to be certified and so on.”

The Avatar director added that he was also “struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself”, when the captain of the ship “was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship”, but still “steamed at full speed into an ice field on a moonless night”. The disaster on 15 April 1912, claimed over 1,500 lives.

“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 it’s just astonishing. It’s really quite surreal,” he told ABC News.

Cameron’s comments come as the host of Discovery’s ‘Expedition Unknown’, Josh Gates, revealed he took a trip on the Titan, but refused a second journey out of concerns that haven’t yet “been made public.”

The 45-year-old said earlier this week – before the wreckage was found – that the Titan, “did not perform well” while he was aboard, so he turned down a chance to film the legendary shipwreck site.

“I had the unique opportunity to dive in the @Oceangate #Titan sub with Stockton at the helm in preparation for its maiden mission to Titanic,” Gates tweeted, referencing OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who is among the casualties.

Gates later tweeted his reasons for not accepting the offer: “To those asking, #Titan did not perform well on my dive. Ultimately, I walked away from a huge opportunity to film Titanic due to my safety concerns w/ the @OceanGate platform.”

He also hinted at potentially dangerous design flaws and past problems. “There’s more to the history and design of Titan that has not been made public — much of it concerning,” he wrote.

When asked on Twitter why anyone would set foot on the tiny tourist vessel, Gates replied that the trip was a thrilling chance to see history.

“To those questioning why people would dive to Titanic: the ship has fascinated the world since the night she sank. It’s a time capsule to another era of our history. It takes courage to make a trip like this. Admiration and prayers for the passengers aboard,” he tweeted.

“I pray for a positive outcome to the rescue efforts of those aboard.”

In a statement, OceanGate hailed the sub’s passengers as “true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans”.

It added: “We grieve the loss of life and joy they brought to everyone they knew.”

Harding’s family remembered a “dedicated father” who was “a guide, an inspiration, a support and a living legend” following the news of his death.

In a statement, the family of the 58-year-old explorer said, according to a report in the Guardian: “He was one of a kind and we adored him. He was a passionate explorer – whatever the terrain – who lived his life for his family, his business and for the next adventure.

“What he achieved in his lifetime was truly remarkable and if we can take any small consolation from this tragedy, it’s that we lost him doing what he loved.”

Harding’s family said his death had left a “gap in our lives that can never be filled”, and that they were “united in grief” with the families of the others who had died.

“We know that Hamish would have been immensely proud to see how nations, experts, industry colleagues and friends came together for the search and we extend our heartfelt thanks for all their efforts.”

Related links:

Discovery Channel explorer refused seat on Titanic sub due to ‘safety concerns’

Student on board Titanic sub was ‘terrified’ about the trip and only agreed to go as a Father’s Day gift

Doctor describes hell Titanic submarine passengers are going through

Gaming controller used to pilot lost Titanic submarine has received hundreds of negative reviews online

Loose Women star Janet Street-Porter calls missing Titanic explorers ‘selfish billionaires’

Submarine expert gives grim prediction on survival chances of those on board