OceanGate’s attempt to save costs during the construction of the Titan tourist submersible may have contributed to its tragic implosion last month. Engineers have pointed out several flaws in the design, which were likely made to maximize profitability for the vessel’s tourist expeditions to the wreckage of the Titanic. One significant cost-cutting measure involved renting a mothership, the Polar Prince, that was too small to carry the Titan on deck. As a result, the submersible was dragged through rough ocean waters for three days, potentially causing damage and instability.
Straying from Industry Standards
The Titan diverged from industry standards in various ways, raising concerns among experts. Its hull, shaped like a pill, aimed to fit more passengers at a premium price of $250,000 per head. However, this unconventional design departed from the standard sphere, known to be more suitable for deep-sea voyages.
Additionally, the central cylinder of the Titan was constructed using carbon fiber instead of the commonly used titanium. The combination of carbon fiber and titanium created joints with dissimilar materials, which experts say could have compromised the submersible’s structural integrity under high water pressure.
Skirting Testing and Certifications
OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush’s approach to testing and certifications has come under scrutiny. Rush opted to skip standard testing and inspections by reputable marine organizations, arguing that obtaining certification would hinder innovation. This decision raised concerns among experts who emphasize the importance of thorough testing for safety and reliability.
Rush’s controversial stance was rooted in his ambition to turn the vessel into a tool for deep-sea mining, using the Titanic expedition as a means to showcase the submersible’s design and capabilities.
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Tragic Implosion of the Titan
On June 18, tragedy struck as the Titan imploded during its dive to the wreckage of the Titanic. The fatal accident claimed the lives of OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, British billionaire Hamish Harding, French Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, and his son Sulaiman Dawood. The implosion has sparked a critical examination of the cost-saving measures, design choices, and lack of proper testing and certifications that may have led to the submersible’s catastrophic failure.
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While innovation is essential, it should not come at the expense of compromising crucial safety measures. As investigations into the Titan’s implosion continue, the industry is reminded of the significance of responsible engineering and the adherence to established safety protocols in submersible design and operation.