Titan tragedy 1 year on – no breakthrough, no justice, and no lessons learnt | World News - Hindustan Times
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Titan tragedy 1 year on – no breakthrough, no justice, and no lessons learnt

BySumanti Sen
Jun 19, 2024 12:35 PM IST

Tuesday, June 18, marks a year since the Titan submersible tragedy shook the world.

Tuesday, June 18, marks a year since the Titan submersible tragedy shook the world. The submersible, on the way to the Titanic wreckage, mysteriously vanished. A five-day search found that the vessel had been destroyed and all of the five passengers had died.

Titan tragedy 1 year on - no breakthrough, no justice, no lessons learnt (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press via AP, File)(AP)
Titan tragedy 1 year on - no breakthrough, no justice, no lessons learnt (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press via AP, File)(AP)

A high-level investigation was immediately launched by the US Coast Guard. Disturbing details surfaced, and it was revealed that there were previous concerns over the Titan’s unconventional design. Warnings were allegedly ignored by OceanGate Expeditions CEO Stockton Rush in the days leading up to the tragedy.

The five deceased passengers were Rush, British billionaire Hamish Harding, French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman.

No breakthrough, no justice, and no lessons learnt

However, one year on, the world knows nothing about where the investigation stands. There has been no breakthrough, and the deceased passengers have not found justice. Most of them tragically lost their lives due to the carelessness of authorities. 

Debris was discovered near the Titanic’s resting place days after the Titan disappeared. Following that discovery, it was officially declared that the submersible had suffered a “catastrophic implosion.”

The tragedy shattered the confidence of several explorers. In a recent interview with The Mirror, ocean explorer and adventurer Victor Vescovo said that Rush "ignored" the "collective experience" and kept diving the submersible even though it had an "inherently flawed design."

"The Marine Technical Society, MTS, wrote a letter to Stockton Rush imploring him to get the subclassed or else stop his operations. He ignored their great collective experience and kept diving into an inherently flawed design and operation,” Vescovo said. "I mean, on their last trip to Titanic, they actually towed the submersible to the dive location on the open water. Who knows what kind of beating the sub took in the North Atlantic on the way there that increased the risk of significant hull damage."

One-year-anniversary of the Titan tragedy: where do things stand?

The investigation into the incident is ongoing, but it is certainly taking longer than expected. Last week, the US Coast Guard officials said that they would not be able to release the results of the investigation by the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. They added that it will take at least two more months before a public hearing to discuss the findings could be held.

Marine Board of Investigation Chair Jason Neubauer said that investigators "are working closely with our domestic and international partners to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the incident,” according to CTV News. Neubauer further described the inquiry as a "complex and ongoing effort."

OceanGate, the company that owned the Titan, suspended its operations last July soon after the tragedy. A former adviser to OceanGate, David Concannon, said that he will mark the anniversary privately, along with a group of people who were involved with the company or the expeditions over the past few years. These people would include scientists, volunteers and mission specialists.

Richard Garriott, the president of The Explorers Club, of which Harding and Nargeolet were members, said last week, "Then, as now, it hit us on a personal level very deeply.” The professional society is dedicated to research, exploration and resource conservation. Garriott added that a remembrance celebration for the victims of the tragedy will be held in Portugal this week, at the annual Global Exploration Summit.

The fake log transcript

A few days ago, it was revealed that the log transcript of communications between the Titan submersible and its mothership was completely fake. The transcript was released last year and surfaced on social media with the claim that the logbook detailed the final communication between the submersible and the mothership before the implosion.

The New York Times reported that the head of the US government team investigating the disaster believes the log is completely fake. No evidence was found by authorities to suggest that the passengers on the submersible had any clue about the disaster they were going to face, although the transcript suggested that the passengers were in a state of panic.

Will the tragedy stop deep-sea exploration?

The tragedy did shake the world, but it could not break the determination of deep-sea explorers. Many of them told The Associated Press that the worldwide community of explorers remain committed to continuing the missions. Garriott said, addressing this, “Progress continues. I actually feel very comfortable and confident that we will now be able to proceed."

In fact, an Ohio billionaire and real estate investor named Larry Connor has decided to visit the Titanic wreckage to prove that the industry is safer now. He is planning to travel to the site in a submersible that carries two people, along with Triton Submarines co-founder Patrick Lahey.

Ocean explorer Vescovo, in his recent interview, stressed that “stringent safety checks must be done after every dive and before the next to ensure that the craft is safe, and that is not used if there are significant safety concerns by those maintaining the vehicle." “And never get into a submersible, aircraft, or any vehicle whose pilot is more afraid of failure than of dying," he added.

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