Missing Titan submersible sparks safety concerns

Oxygen deadline passes for Titanic sub lost in Atlantic
No trace of the submarine has been discovered ( Image: OceanGate)

The Titan submersible, a vessel that can take five people to the depths of the ocean, has gone missing after diving to see the Titanic wreck with tourists on board.

The vessel was operated by OceanGate Expeditions, a company based in Everett, Washington, that offers deep sea exploration trips. According to its website, the Titan is a 6.7-meter (22-foot) long vessel that can reach 4,000 meters (13,100 feet) below the surface.

It first dived to that depth in December 2018 and visited the Titanic site, which is about 3,800 meters under the Atlantic, in 2021. The company planned to do 18 more dives this year.

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However, some experts in the industry and a whistleblower employee questioned the safety of the vessel. They pointed out that OceanGate did not seek certification from third-party organizations such as the American Bureau of Shipping or the European group DNV, which are respected groups that evaluate the safety and standards of submersibles.

Will Kohnen, the chairman of the Marine Technology Society’s committee on manned submersibles, sent a letter dated March 27, 2018, to Stockton Rush, the founder and CEO of OceanGate, who was also piloting the missing vessel.

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In the letter, Kohnen expressed the widespread worries about the Titan. He later had a talk with Rush about the worries, saying it was an honest conversation where they agreed to disagree, as he told Reuters in an interview.

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