OceanGate’s CEO Stockton Rush was warned by experts in the submersible industry about the potential for disaster years before the company’s vessel, the Titan, went missing during a dive to the Titanic’s wreckage.

The New York Times obtained a letter from the Manned Underwater Vehicles committee of the Marine Technology Society, in which they urged Rush to exercise caution due to concerns about the company’s “experimental” approach. The letter stated that this approach could lead to problems ranging from minor to catastrophic, but did not provide specific details about the perceived dangers.

It is unclear whether Rush or any employees of OceanGate responded to the warning letter. The letter was sent by a 60-year-old trade group, the Marine Technology Society, which aims to promote ocean technology and educate the public about it. The absence of a response raises questions about the level of attention given to the concerns raised by the experts.

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The search and rescue operation for the missing Titan and its five occupants is currently underway. The submersible lost communication during its dive to the Titanic’s wreckage, prompting a frantic search effort. Time is of the essence as the submersible’s oxygen supply is running out, with only 40 hours remaining before it is depleted.

Officials involved in the search have expressed the possibility that even if the submersible is located, it may not be possible to rescue the individuals on board. The challenging conditions at a depth of 12,500 feet pose significant obstacles to recovery efforts. The search area already covers a vast expanse of 7,600 square miles, equivalent to the size of Connecticut.

These recent developments shed light on concerns raised in 2018, when OceanGate fired a director who had requested more rigorous safety tests for the submersible. The company also opted against seeking classification for the vessel, which would have involved independent inspections to ensure compliance with industry-wide safety standards.

Also Read: Who is David Lochridge? OceanGate fired ex-Marine ops director after he demanded safety checks for Titan submersible

OceanGate argued that seeking classification would be time-consuming and hinder rapid innovation.

The tragedy involving the Titan underscores the importance of adhering to established safety practices and standards in the submersible industry. As the search and rescue operation continues, the focus remains on locating the missing submersible and its occupants and understanding the factors that contributed to its disappearance.