OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush said in 2021 he knew he'd 'broken some rules' by making the Titanic submersible out of carbon fiber and not pure metal: 'You're remembered for the rules you break'

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush said in 2021 he knew he'd 'broken some rules' by making the Titanic submersible out of carbon fiber and not pure metal: 'You're remembered for the rules you break'
Rush said he knew he was breaking rules with the Titan's design, but wanted to forge ahead in the name of innovation.Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS and OceanGate/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush acknowledged in 2021 that his Titan submersible had "broken some rules."
  • Rush deviated from the norm when he created the now-imploded sub with carbon fiber and titanium.

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who died on the Titanic submersible that went missing on Sunday, acknowledged two years ago that the vessel's design had "broken some rules."

But he said this was part of the point of his experimental submersible, which he described as an innovative new way to explore the ocean's depths.

Rush was one of the five people on board the Titan, a submersible that reportedly imploded deep in the Atlantic Ocean and instantly killed all passengers. The US Coast Guard confirmed Thursday that it found debris "consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber" following a massive search-and-rescue effort for the vessel.

Years before the tragedy, Rush said in a 2021 interview with the Spanish YouTuber alanxelmundo that he hoped to be remembered as an innovator.

"I think it was General MacArthur who said: 'You're remembered for the rules you break,'" Rush said, smiling.


The CEO acknowledged that he'd "broken some rules" with the Titan's manufacturing but was confident that his design was sound.

"I think I've broken them with logic and good engineering behind me. Carbon fiber and titanium? There's a rule you don't do that," he told alanxelmundo. "Well, I did."

The Titan's hull, which was made to withstand crushing deep-sea pressure, was constructed with aerospace-grade carbon fiber that OceanGate said was designed under an agreement with NASA.

But submersible hulls are typically made using solid metals like steel or titanium. In 2017, Rush told the magazine CompositesWorld that he used carbon fiber for the Titan — then called the Cyclops 2 — because it would eliminate the need for syntactic foam, an expensive but durable material often used to make submersibles.

In his 2021 interview with alanxelmundo, Rush said the choice of material was more about pioneering ocean exploration.


"It's picking the rules that you break that are the ones that will add value to others and add value to society," Rush said. "And that really, to me, is about innovation."

Rush expressed excitement about the possibilities that his submersible could offer humanity in the deep ocean.

"Because this is where we're going to find strange new lifeforms, and the future of mankind is underwater. It's not on Mars, we're not going to have a base on Mars or the moon," he said, saying that bases on other planets were a "waste" of funds.

Instead, humanity would likely have bases on the ocean floor, Rush said. "If we trash this planet, the best lifeboat for mankind is underwater," he told alanxelmundo.

Rush was warned multiple times about safety, but forged on

The CEO was confronted in 2018 with multiple concerns about the Titan's safety, including one from a now-fired company executive who warned that OceanGate didn't have the right systems to detect weaknesses in the hull.


The executive warned that any risk of a coming implosion would only be detected "milliseconds" before disaster. But he said in a lawsuit that he was fired immediately after raising these issues in an official report.

The same year, Rush was sent a letter from the Marine Technology Society, a leading group of experts who expressed "unanimous concern" about the "experimental approach" of the Titan.

And in 2017, a consultant for OceanGate told Bloomberg that he left the company in its early years because he felt Rush was a "full-speed-ahead, damn-the-torpedoes kind of guy" in an industry that required absolute precision.

It's unclear whether any of these concerns were addressed by OceanGate later, but Rush has previously complained about safety measures and regulations.

In 2021, OceanGate launched its first annual expedition for customers to see the Titanic shipwreck, which utilizes the Titan for dives of up to 13,000 feet. Each passenger is typically charged $250,000.


Rush was piloting the Titan when it made its final dive on Sunday, during which it lost contact with its mother ship about an hour and 45 minutes into its journey.

Its implosion meant the five people inside, including Rush, would have died instantaneously, likely not knowing anything had gone wrong. Rush was 61 when he died.

OceanGate did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside regular business hours.