Old Interview Lands Boss Of Titanic Sub Company In Hot Water
The massive, multinational effort to rescue the OceanGate Expeditions submersible, which became lost during a dive to view the wreckage of the Titanic, has sparked a conversation about the safety of such deep-sea explorations. In particular, many have raised questions about Stockton Rush’s avowed decision to neuter experience from his team in favor of youth.
"When I started the business, one of the things you'll find, there are other sub operators out there, but they typically have gentlemen who are ex-military submariners, and they — you'll see a whole bunch of 50-year-old white guys," Rush told representatives from Teledyne Marine before the expedition began.
"I wanted our team to be younger, to be inspirational," he continued. "And I'm not going to inspire a 16-year-old to go pursue marine technology, but a 25-year-old who's a sub pilot or a platform operator, one of our techs, can be inspirational. So we've really tried to get very intelligent, motivated, younger individuals involved because we're doing things that are completely new."
Aaron Amick, the founder of Sub Brief, who served as a U.S. Navy contractor and provided strategic and policy-level consultation for domestic and international clients on cleared Navy projects, played the call from Rush in a video explaining some of the problems the beleaguered vessel may have faced as it has reputedly sunk to a depth of 12,000 feet below the surface.
"You don't want to only hire young college graduates that you would then train to inspire the next generation," Amick opined. "You have to have subject matter experts at some point in the chain. And I’m not talking about the vice-admiral that’s on the board of directors … but you don’t seem to have a subject matter expert that’s from the submarine community, that could maybe talk about some of the problems."
These words are echoed by Rush's critics, who cite the importance of experience and expertise in such high-stakes operations. Rush himself appears to understand this now, as he stands aboard the seemingly-doomed vessel with billionaire explorer Hamish Harding, French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet, and British businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman. Nonetheless, these experienced submarine veterans have yet to be assigned to the recovery mission.
For now, the rescue operation rests in the hands of international authorities, as they coordinate satellite-supported search-and-rescue operations and helicopters from various countries. Many worry that without experienced submariners onboard the rescue mission, the odds of a successful recovery are slim.
Though it remains unclear if OceanGate Expeditions learned any lessons from this disaster, let us hope that they someday come to realize the importance of combining young minds and experienced mariners in their operations. Until then, we will wait in limbo, hoping for good news from the depths of the Atlantic.