In an interview with ABC News, Cameron — who designs submersibles himself, some able to dive to depths three times below the Titanic site — said OceanGate Expedition’s vessel should not have been constructed from carbon fiber.
OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who was one of five passengers killed onboard the Titan submersible that disappeared on Sunday, defended the use of carbon fiber in 2017, claiming the material was lighter, cheaper and easier to transport while still being durable under pressure. Traditionally, submersibles are constructed using titanium, steel or other materials that can withstand immense pressure underwater.
Cameron, 68, told the news outlet that members of the “small” deep-diving community had been warning about safety flaws in the Titan’s design since Rush boasted about the use of carbon fiber in the hull.
He claimed many “very concerned” engineers and deep-sea divers wrote letters to OceanGate insisting the Titan was too experimental to carry human passengers.
The Titan launched on Sunday and was reported overdue that afternoon about 700 kilometers south of St. John’s, N.L., prompting an exhaustive search involving American and Canadian organizations.
On Thursday, U.S. Coast Guards said debris had been found on the ocean bed. Authorities said all five people aboard the submersible — identified as Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet and Rush, who piloted the vessel — died when the Titan imploded.
“I’m struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself, where the captain was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship, and yet, he steamed up full speed into an ice field on a moonless night,” Cameron told ABC News. “And many people died as a result and for a very similar tragedy where warnings went unheeded to take place at the same exact site…”
In a separate interview with the BBC, Cameron further disparaged the Titan’s construction and claimed the company “cut corners.”
He said OceanGate did not certify the submersible because “they knew they wouldn’t pass.”
Cameron, who has completed 33 diving voyages to the Titanic wreck, said he would not have boarded the Titan submersible.
When it was announced on Sunday that the Titan lost communication, Cameron said he “felt in my bones what had happened.”
“For the sub’s electronics to fail and its communication system to fail, and its tracking transponder to fail simultaneously – sub’s gone,” he told the BBC.
Cameron said the days-long search for the submersible felt like a “prolonged and nightmarish charade” because he, and others in the deep-diving community, knew the vessel and its passengers were likely lost.
“In the 21st century, there shouldn’t be any risks,” Cameron said. “We’ve managed to make it through 60 years, from 1960 until today, 63 years without a fatality … So, you know, one of the saddest aspects of this is how preventable it really was.”
The filmmaker has been an oceanography enthusiast since childhood and has made dozens of deep-sea dives, including one to the deepest point on Earth — the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.
— with files from The Associated Press