A British diver who was involved in the successful rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand has heaped scorn on Elon Musk‘s offer of a miniature submarine for the mission, describing the billionaire entrepreneur’s idea as a “PR stunt.”
Vern Unsworth told CNN that the submarine “had absolutely no chance of working” because Musk “had no conception of what the cave passage was like.”
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO had floated a number of high-tech ideas to assist with the rescue, including an underwater air tunnel and an inflatable tube, before settling on the mini submarine, tweeting videos of the contraption being tested. He even traveled to the Tham Luang cave complex and presented the vessel.
The Thai provincial governor overseeing the rescue operation passed on Musk’s sub, however, saying that while he appreciated the offer, the submarine simply wasn’t suitable for the cave rescue mission. Musk responded by saying the Thai official was “not the subject matter expert.”
Unsworth was asked about Musk’s intervention on CNN, and made his thoughts clear.
“He can stick his submarine where it hurts.”
The submarine was “about 5-foot-6 long, rigid, so it wouldn’t have gone round corners or around any obstacles,” Unsworth continued. “It wouldn’t have made the first 50 metres from the dive start point.
“Just a P.R. stunt.”
Unsworth, who lives in Chiang Rai province and spent six years exploring the Tham Luang caves, said authorities were right in asking Musk “to leave very quickly” after he turned up at the cave site on July 10.
WATCH: Elon Musk posts footage from inside Thai cave
Musk has since mooted other potential uses for the contraption, tweeting that it could be used to rescue people trapped in dangerous environments where exposure to toxic gases or waterborne viruses and bacteria may be a concern.
The 12 Thai boys and their 25-year-old coach will be discharged from hospital next week, the country’s health minister said on Saturday.