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Ohio man plans to take a 2-person submersible to Titanic depths to show the industry is safe after the OceanGate tragedy

May 27, 2024, 20:21 IST
The Titan submersible.Reuters
  • A submersible imploded as it descended to view the wreck of the Titanic last year.
  • All five passengers on board the OceanGate vessel were killed in the incident.

An Ohio real-estate investor is planning to take a two-person submersible down to Titanic-level depths to prove that the journey can be carried out safely following the Titan sub implosion last year.

The investor, Larry Connor, told The Wall Street Journal: "I want to show people worldwide that while the ocean is extremely powerful, it can be wonderful and enjoyable and really kind of life-changing if you go about it the right way."

He is working with Patrick Lahey, the cofounder and CEO of submersible manufacturer Triton Submarines.

The pair aims to show that such an expedition can be carried out repeatedly and safely despite the implosion of the OceanGate sub last June, which killed all five people on board, including the company's CEO, Stockton Rush.

Stockton Rush.AP Photo/Bill Sikes

Lahey said that Connor rang him a few days after the implosion and said: "'You know, what we need to do is build a sub that can dive to [Titanic-level depths] repeatedly and safely and demonstrate to the world that you guys can do that, and that Titan was a contraption.'"


Connor, who has previously been to the Mariana Trench, the deepest oceanic trench on Earth, said they plan to do the journey in a two-person vessel called the Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer, named "4000" for the depth in meters it can reach. He did not say when the trip will take place.

Lahey was one of the many industry figures who criticized OceanGate before and after the disaster, accusing it of questionable safety standards.

After the implosion, he described Rush's approach to convincing people to get on board as "quite predatory."

Others in the industry and the company also voiced their concerns.

An OceanGate tourist submersible descending from the surface.Ocean Gate / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A former chief submersible pilot for the company said years before the fatal incident that he was worried Rush would get himself and others killed in a "quest to boost his ego."


Filmmaker and Titanic explorer James Cameron also weighed in, saying he and some engineers had warned OceanGate officials that the Titan could lead to "catastrophic failure."

The waiver that Titan passengers were required to sign mentioned multiple ways that passengers could die and described the vessel as "experimental" three times.

Previous passengers had also described errors, failed trips, and feeling unsafe.

CBS News' David Pogue said his trip on the submersible was canceled after the Titan reached 37 feet due to an equipment malfunction, while one diver who made it to the wreckage said there were multiple aborted attempts, calling it a "suicide mission."

Nevertheless, Rush and his company repeatedly defended the submersible and its design.

The Titan sub.OceanGate

The subsequent disaster raised concerns about the industry, with some experts calling on the industry to reassess taking people to such a remote location.

But Lahey said he believed that OceanGate's problems weren't reflective of the wider industry, saying that classed submersibles are considered to be very safe due to the extensive testing they undergo.

Rob McCallum — a former OceanGate consultant who had warned Rush about the safety of the Titan — agreed with that assessment.

"In that sense, OceanGate didn't make the industry look bad," McCallum told the Journal. "It made us look good."

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