Personal Finance Articles

OCEANGATE Submersible Made me Furious

by | Personal Finance


A couple of years ago, my friend told me how he lost his child at Disneyworld for seven minutes. He literally describes it in detail, as one of the most horrific experiences of his entire life.

Any parent would be doing everything he can to find his child and not knowing where they are is like a big hole in the heart.

That’s why most parents give their children either a phone early on or a small watch with a tracking device; the fear of not knowing where they are is too great and the risks too grave.

How, then, was a tourist submersible allowed to dive to the depths of the ocean, without any GPS navigational system or a locator beacon, which even my Cessna-172 has in the sky?

The tragedy of Oceangate could have been avoided, but it wasn’t. Five crew members on a tourist expedition are now dead and I just couldn’t let it go.

Because a friend of mine dove to the wreckage of the Titanic, which is located at the bottom of the ocean at around a depth of 3.8 KM or 12,500 feet, this failed expedition really fascinated me, since I know my friend would take every precaution and I didn’t understand why the “Titan,” which is the submersible that Oceangate purpose-built for this voyage could not be found.

That, to me, is the worst part of this entire story, the hubris behavior of Oceangate that short-cut their way to being a commercial operator of deep-sea tourism, far more dangerous than space tourism.

The founder/CEO of the company, the deceased Stockton Rush, was a space-enthusiast. He wanted to go to space, so he became a commercial pilot and even a test pilot for McDonnel Douglas, an indication of his ambitious mature and his impeccable abilities, but bad eyesight shattered his dream of being an astronaut, so he became passionate about exploring the unknown oceans.

Oceangate, like Watergate, is a scandal.

The company’s submersibles did not get many of the certifications needed, but because of very few regulations, no red flags were raised for the eager billionaires that just wanted a thrill.

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    From an engineering perspective, the company didn’t test the materials that the “Titan” was made out of in a manner that is standard in the industry (NDI and NDT).

    At some point during their dive, the likely has probably occurred… the “Titan” collapsed under the pressure. At these depths, the atmospheric pressures are like having the entire weight of a Boeing 747 pressing upon you.

    To me, as an investor and an entrepreneur, it is a wake-up call to continually doubt and question everything and not take anything for granted.

    Aluminum, steel and titanium, for example, have much more tests conducted on them than the exotic fiber carbons of the “Titan,” but because the vessel had successfully reached the wreckage of the Titanic, no one questioned, whether or not, it could do it repeatedly or had to be retired, like commercial airplanes are, after a certain number of hours.

    The warning signs were all there, but greed and enthusiasm blinded all involved and any critics were silenced and fired (there were employees that sounded the alarm).

    Go into things with eyes wide open. Don’t rush or let enthusiasm override your risk-management disciplines.

    Best Regards,

    Lior Gantz

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