This past week, the world was riveted by the Titanic Sub rescue efforts which ultimately ended with the tragic loss of five people in the Atlantic. A submissible craft called the Titan attempted to reach the wreck of the Titanic. The Titanic was an oceanliner which famously sank on its maiden voyage in 1912. The submersible dove a week ago on Sunday, but soon lost communication with its support vessile on the surface.
Over the course of a few days, the internet was full of oxygen calculations for those on board, armchair sleuths digging up information about the company who ran this particular tour, as well as diagram after diagram demonstrating just how deep the ocean is at that point. 12,500 feet below the surface. The Coast Guard joined the multi-nation search for the sub. Strangers worried about the safety of the crew.
A Tragic Outcome
Unfortunately after several days, search crews found debris. The submersible was lost and the crew had passed.
Experts in the submersibles and submarine exploration field are now speaking out about the event. Some explain that the materials used in the Titan may not have been safe or practical for the mission. Still others claim that leaders in the industry spoke out against the design even prior to the fateful dive. The Titan, referred to as the ‘Titanic Sub’ by news reports, was made from materials including carbon fiber. Some experts are now saying that this material was not rated for the repeated pressurization that the dive required. This means, that some concluded the material would fail over time.
According to CNN, the CEO of the company, Stockton Rush had a record of being annoyed by regulation. “At some point, safety is just pure waste.” CNN reported Rush to have said.
What do Industry Standards do?
It is likely that the next few weeks and months will bring more discussion about industry standards for undersea travel. However, every industry has it’s own regulations and industry standards. These are particularly important in situations where products, experiences, locations are open to the public. Ski resorts, hotels, the manufacture of automobiles, dental procedures, etc all have specific industry standards to keep people safe and to avoid unnecessary risk.
Although a deep dive, the dive the Titan was attempting was by no means the deepest. For example, director James Cameron (who also visited the wreck of the Titanic) descended into the Mariana Trench. Approximately 35,000 feet.
Deep sea exploration remains an area of fascination.
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