'Titanic' Director and Diving Expert James Cameron Says OceanGate Catastrophe Was 'Preventable' The renowned Hollywood director is also a deep sea diving enthusiast and has been to the Titanic wreckage site 33 times.
Academy Award-winning director of Titanic, James Cameron, is giving his thoughts to several media outlets in the wake of the OceanGate Titan tragedy.
After four days of searching for the submersible that lost contact an hour and forty-five minutes into its journey, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that debris discovered near the search area was consistent with a "catastrophic implosion," resulting in the tragic loss of the five passengers on board.
During interviews with several outlets following the tragedy, Cameron says OceanGate failed to heed warnings.
In 2018, industry experts sent a letter to OceanGate's CEO, Stockton Rush (who was one of the five onboard the Titan), calling for the company to reconsider its decision to opt out of the traditional assessment and certification of its submersibles.
"Our apprehension is that the current 'experimental approach' adopted by OceanGate could result in negative outcomes (from minor to catastrophic) that would have serious consequences for everyone in the industry," the letter, obtained by The New York Times, states.
"One of the saddest aspects of this is how preventable it really was," Cameron told the BBC.
Cameron is an experienced diver and deep sea exploration enthusiast — he's been down to the Titanic wreckage site 33 times and is very much involved in the deepsea diving community.
"Many people in the community were very concerned about this sub," Cameron told ABC News, saying that several "top players" in the deep sea engineering circuit were concerned that OceanGate's Titan was "too experimental" and should be certified before taking passengers down to such extreme depths of the sea.
The director and diver added to BBC that he believes OceanGate "cut corners," which led to the catastrophe that resulted in the fatalities of five passengers. "[OceanGate] didn't get certified because they knew they wouldn't pass," he told the outlet.
Cameron also has a personal connection to the Titan tragedy, having known one of the passengers lost on the submersible, Paul-Henri "P.H." Nargeolet.
"P.H., the French legendary submersible dive pilot, was a friend of mine. It's a very small community, I've known P.H. for 25 years," Cameron told ABC. "For him to have died tragically in this way is almost impossible for me to process."
In 2018, OceanGate's former director of marine operations, David Lochridge, raised concerns about the Titan, saying it needed more testing because of the "potential dangers to passengers," the NYT reported. Following his warnings, Lochridge was fired, and he later sued the company for wrongful termination, which was settled in late 2018.
In the court documents, Lochridge states that after stressing the Titan be inspected and certified by an agency, OceanGate was "unwilling to pay" for the assessment.