Multi-award-winning Hollywood film director, James Cameron, renowned for directing the 1997 movie Titanic, has opened up about the warning signs leading to the tragic Submersible expedition incident involving the company OceanGate. Cameron expressed a deep sense of loss, stating that he felt it “in his bones.”
On Thursday, June 22, the US Navy reported detecting “an acoustic anomaly consistent with an implosion” shortly after the Titan lost contact with the surface. This crucial information was shared with the US Coast Guard team, aiding in narrowing down the search area. Subsequently, the US Coast Guard confirmed the devastating news that everyone aboard the submersible had perished due to the vessel’s implosion.
As an experienced deep-sea explorer with 33 dives to the Titanic wreck, Cameron revealed that he was onboard a ship when the submersible went missing and only learned about the incident on Monday.
Upon discovering that the sub had lost both navigation and communication simultaneously, he immediately suspected a disaster. He conveyed his intuitive response, stating, “I felt in my bones what had happened. For the sub’s electronics to fail and its communication system to fail, and its tracking transponder to fail simultaneously – sub’s gone,” during an interview with the BBC.
Cameron further shared his actions following the news, saying, “I immediately got on the phone to some of my contacts in the deep submersible community. Within about an hour, I had the following facts. They were on descent. They were at 3500 meters, heading for the bottom at 3800 meters. Their comms were lost, and navigation was lost – and I said instantly, you can’t lose comms and navigation together without an extreme catastrophic event or high, highly energetic catastrophic event. And the first thing that popped to mind was an implosion.”
Reflecting on the past week, Cameron described it as a “prolonged and nightmarish charade,” where discussions revolved around banging noises, oxygen, and other details. He emphasized that the submersible was located exactly beneath its last known depth and position, which is precisely where it was eventually found after a remotely controlled underwater vehicle was deployed.
Cameron highlighted a poignant irony in the loss of the Titan and its crew, drawing a parallel to the tragic sinking of the Titanic in 1912. He expressed, “We now have another wreck that is based on unfortunately the same principles of not heeding warnings.” Cameron further revealed that OceanGate had been warned, mentioning internal staff departures without providing specific details.
According to Cameron, members of the deep submergence community, excluding himself, had sent a letter to OceanGate expressing their concerns and belief that the company was heading towards catastrophe. A letter from the Marine Technology Society (MTS) dated March 2018 and obtained by the New York Times outlined the potential negative outcomes, ranging from minor to catastrophic, resulting from OceanGate’s current “experimental” approach.
Additionally, US court documents revealed that a former employee of OceanGate had raised safety concerns about the vessel as far back as 2018.