A former friend of Stockton Rush has raised startling new allegations against the late OceanGate CEO.
The catastrophic implosion of Titan on June 18 remains under investigation by various maritime authorities, including the US Coast Guard, as well as the Canadian Transportation Safety Board and the French Marine Casualty Investigation Board.
The Coast Guard convened a Marine Board of Inquiry last month and said it will hold a public hearing once it determines what caused the submersible to malfunction during a 12,000-foot dive toward the Titanic wreck.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, OceanGate and its CEO have been criticized for ignoring a litany of safety warnings from industry experts and passengers who took the plunge from the Titan. Rush’s former friend Karl Stanley, owner of a diving expedition company in Honduras, has made new allegations about an episode of 60 Minutes Australia which aired over the weekend.
“I think Stockton was designing a mousetrap for billionaires,” Stanley said. “I definitely knew it was going to end like this. He literally and figuratively came out with the biggest bang in human history that you could ever go out with. Who was the last person to kill two billionaires, at once, and make them pay for the privilege?
Rush, British billionaire Hamish Harding, renowned French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and her 19-year-old son Suleman were aboard the Titan when it imploded.
Before getting into a fight with Rush, Stanley toured aboard the Titan off the coast of the Bahamas in 2019. In emails first discovered by The New York Times from an exchange between the two deep sea enthusiasts, Mr. Stanley told Mr. Rush that he had heard a loud crack during the dive.
“Every three or four minutes, there were loud gunshot-like noises,” Stanley recalled at the 60 minutes interview. “That’s a great sound to hear when you’re that deep in the ocean in a ship that’s only been that deep once before.”
Stanley said he believes the sound was the Titan’s carbon-fiber hull breaking apart, but when he raised those concerns with Rush, the OceanGate CEO dismissed them.
“I literally painted a picture of his wrecked submarine on the bottom, and even that wasn’t enough,” Stanley said. “I have no doubt that it was the carbon fiber tube that was the mechanical part that failed.”
Maritime authorities investigating the implosion have not revealed what caused the tragedy.
Carbon fiber is an unusual material for a deep-sea submersible because it is weaker than the solid steel or titanium that these boats are usually made of. While widely used in aircraft, it is commonly understood within the maritime industry that carbon fiber is not used in deep sea diving.
“They were so proud to flaunt accepted standards… You really need to know what you’re doing and I wasn’t convinced there was that level of expertise,” Rob McCallum, who advised OceanGate in 2009 before leaving over concerns. that Rush was accelerating development of the vessel, he also said 60 minutes.
McCallum, the founder of deep-sea research and travel company EYOS Expeditions, told Rush in a 2018 email that he was “potentially placing you and your clients in a dangerous dynamic.”
“I implore you to be very careful in your trials and sea trials and to be very, very conservative,” he wrote in emails obtained by the BBC. “As much as you appreciate entrepreneurship and innovation, you are potentially putting an entire industry at risk.”
In an ominous warning, McCallum added: “In his career for [the] Titanic you’re reflecting that famous catchphrase: ‘She’s unsinkable.’”
McCallum said during his interview with 60 minutes he tried to do everything in his power to dissuade Rush, to no avail.
“They were diving into something that was really a time bomb. I can’t say from a technical point of view that I was surprised,” she said.
Everett, Washington-based OceanGate announced earlier this month that it was suspending all operations. Company co-founder and Rush friend Guillermo Sohnlein denied Stanley’s allegations, saying he believes the media has portrayed the wrong image of Rush.
“I felt like what we were doing was right and going in the right direction,” Sohnlein said. 60 minutes.