Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 26, 2023 ·  4 min read

Ocean Gate’s Stockton Rush Had Safety Concerns Before Accident

Fears Realized

Ocean Gate’s CEO, Stockton Rush, made a surprising confession about the safety of their submarine, Titan, before it disappeared. The sub took five passengers on an exciting journey to explore the wreckage of the famous ship that sank in 1912.1 Unfortunately, about an hour and 45 minutes into the trip, the Titan lost contact with the US Coast Guard. Ships from all around the world were called in to search for the missing sub. Sadly, the Coast Guard later confirmed that all the passengers had died after debris from the ship was discovered.

Even before it went missing, there were concerns about the safety of the Ocean Gate vessel. The submarine carried British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood, and his son Suleman Dawood, French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and Ocean Gate’s CEO and founder Stockton Rush. Surprisingly, Rush had previously admitted that he was afraid of the submarine getting stuck underwater and not being able to reach the surface.2

In an interview on the Unsung Science podcast, Rush shared his worries, saying that his greatest fear was encountering obstacles that would prevent him from returning home, with overhangs, fishnets, and entanglement hazards getting in the way.

“Overhangs, fish nets, entanglement hazards. And, that’s just a technique, piloting technique.” Rush said. “It’s pretty clear – if it’s an overhang, don’t go under it. If there is a net, don’t go near it. So, you can avoid those if you are just slow and steady.”

Despite his concerns, Rush defended the company’s vessel’s safety, stating that taking risks was necessary at some point.

“You know, at some point, safety is just pure waste. I mean, if you just want to be safe, don’t get out of bed, don’t get in your car, don’t do anything. At some point, you’re going to take some risk, and it really is a risk-reward question,” Rush said.  

Ocean Gate: All Aboard

Tickets for the tour to the famous shipwreck cost $250,000. The trip was supposed to last eight days and include dives to the wreck at a depth of 3,800 meters. Debris from the Titan submarine, including the tail cone, was found about 1600 feet from the Titanic wreck. The Coast Guard reported discovering five major pieces from the Titan among the wreckage.

An ongoing investigation aims to determine what happened to the vessel. Rush had previously noted that he had broken some rules with the design of the Titan.3 He used carbon fiber, deviating from the typical use of solid metals like steel or titanium for submersible hulls. Rush believed that breaking these rules allowed for innovation and advanced the goal of exploring the ocean’s depths.

Rush expressed his excitement about the possibilities of exploring the deep ocean and discovering new life forms. He believed that the future of mankind lay underwater and that bases on other planets were a waste of funds. Before the incident, Rush faced other safety concerns. A former employee raised concerns about quality control and safety issues relating to the Titan, but he was fired shortly after. Experts in maritime regulation also noted that Ocean Gate was operating in a legal gray area by using a submersible without industry-standard certification.

Under Pressure

The Titan sub went missing in the North Atlantic, and the Coast Guard confirmed that it suffered a catastrophic loss of pressure, causing the vessel to implode and instantly killing all five passengers. Ocean Gate’s dives have faced scrutiny regarding safety, and a lawsuit was filed in 2018 claiming that the company did not adequately address quality control and safety issues. The lawsuit was eventually settled.

Ocean Gate CEO Stockton Rush had a vision for ocean exploration and believed that private enterprise was the key to advancing exploration. He saw the Titan as a breakthrough moment in submersibles and exploration. Rush had hopes of exploring 98% of the planet’s oceans and believed that private shareholders were the driving force behind ocean exploration.

In the aftermath of the incident, questions remain about the safety of Ocean Gate’s dives and the circumstances surrounding the implosion of the Titan. The search effort for the missing submersible has been one of the deepest and most challenging rescue missions attempted. Submersibles are vessels designed to travel underwater and have been used for research and exploration since the mid-1980s, and the Titan Sub is only about the size of a minivan – a minivan that can reach depths of about 13,100 feet.

Despite the tragedy, Rush’s ambition and innovative approach to ocean exploration will be remembered, famously or in infamy. His belief in breaking rules for the sake of progress and his excitement about the future of underwater discovery left a mark on the field of submersibles. The investigation into the incident will continue to shed light on the events that led to the implosion of the Titan and the loss of all five passengers.

Keep Reading: A Lot Of People Are Only Just Finding Out Where The Titanic Actually Sank


  1. Boss Of Titanic Submarine Made Astonishing Confession Before It Vanished.” IGV Official. Rosario Monachino. June 2023.
  2. CEO touted the Titan as ‘one of the great moments of submersibles’ in 2018.” Washington Post. Timothy Bella. June 22, 2023.
  3. OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush said in 2021 he knew he’d ‘broken some rules’ by making the Titanic submersible out of carbon fiber and not pure metal: ‘You’re remembered for the rules you break’.” Yahoo. Matthew Loh. June 23, 2023