US investor was offered cut-price seat on Titan sub, told it was ‘safer than crossing the street’

A US-based investor named Jay Bloom has revealed that he was offered a discounted seat on the submersible Titan, for its journey to the wreckage of the storied ship Titanic. The submersible, operated by OceanGate, went missing on June 18, soon after its dive, and it is now confirmed that the vessel imploded, killing all five passengers inside.

The hull of the Titan submersible, operated by OceanGate, may have have suffered damage during previous dives, and therefore, the hull imploded this time under the water pressure. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@Sprinter99880

The Guardian reported that Bloom shared online a conversation between himself and Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate who was killed during the implosion, an event where the hull of the submersible could not withstand the huge pressure in deep water. Rush had offered to cut the seat price from USD250,000 to USD150,000 for Bloom as a last-minute discount. The investor and his son were to take two seats, but backed out because the dive dates did not suit them, and they had safety concerns as well.

These two seats then were taken by the wealthy British-Pakistani passenger Shahzada Dawood and his young adult son, Suleman Dawood, who both perished in the implosion. The other two passengers killed in the accident were British businessman Hamish Harding and former French Navy diver and explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet.

Also read: Titanic misadventure: Missing Titan submersible had suffered implosion soon after dive; passengers feared dead

Even though the implosion of the Titan is technically an accident, it is more than likely that the submersible was not in the best shape for this trip. Bloom has shared on social media the details of conversations between himself and Rush, where the investor was told that deep-diving in the submersible would be perfectly safe.

Bloom wrote on Facebook: “I expressed safety concerns and Stockton told me: ‘While there’s obviously risk – it’s way safer than flying in a helicopter or even scuba diving’. He was absolutely convinced that it was safer than crossing the street. I am sure he really believed what he was saying. But he was very wrong.”

Since the CEO himself went down with Titan, he probably did fully believe in the sub’s sturdiness, but as the events have proved, his safety assessment was off by a mile.

The high risk of hull integrity failure was apparently known long before the sub’s doomed trip to the wreckage of the doomed ship.

Once the sub went missing, credible information surfaced that Rush had been warned at least five years ago that there were serious problems with the way Titan was developed. The word “experimental” has been used with regard to Titan’s design.

Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron, who personally knew Nargeolet and who had himself dived down to the Titanic’s wreckage dozens of times while making his iconic 1997 film, talked about “microscopic damage” caused by every dive to the composite carbon fibre body of the submersible. “Each dive adds more and more microscopic damage. So yes, they operated the sub safely at Titanic last year and the year before, but it was only a matter of time before it caught up,” he said on a TV interview.

Announcing its excitement over the planned dive to the Titanic wreckage — the one that has now ended in a disaster — the company OceanGate had shared this photograph on Twitter on May 9, 2023, saying: “One of our Mission Specialists took this photo through Titan’s viewport on a dive in 2021.” Photo courtesy: Twitter/@OceanGateExped

Talking about how the captain of the Titanic, despite being warned of ice ahead, “steamed full ahead into an unknown ice field on a pitch dark night with no moon”, Cameron said, “Here you have the people that were designing and operating the sub who were warned both internally — apparently there was an engineer that walked off the project because he didn’t believe in it — and a number of people in the… deep submergence engineering community, including people that I’m very close with, warn the company [OceanGate] that this could lead to… literally, the term was catastrophic failure. And that’s exactly what happened.”

The search for the missing Titan sub went on for nearly a whole week even though the US Navy detected sounds “consistent with an implosion” soon after its dive. It was well-known that an implosion would kill everyone almost instantly. But the extremely resource-intensive search continued in order to “make every effort to save the lives on board”, said the US Navy, which passed on the information to the US Coast Guard.