Pulitzer Prize-winning feature writer Ben Taub has published a remarkable article in the New Yorker chronicling the OceanGate disaster and the efforts made in an attempt to stop its CEO Stockton Rush from diving on the wreck of the Titanic in an unclassed submersible with passengers. I am quoted in the article, but defer to the statements made by my friend and client Patrick Lahey, the President of Triton Submarines, and world-renowned expedition leader Rob McCallum of EYOS. This tragic loss of life could have been avoided if OceanGate and Rush followed the guidance of every other entity and expert in the field and obtained approval for the Titan submersible from a classification agency. Sadly, they did not.
One of the greatest privileges of my career has been to serve as legal counsel to the wonderful people at Triton Submarines for a decade and a half. Triton built the deepest-diving submersible in the world, the DSV Limiting Factor, which is currently the only DSV on earth capable of reaching every hadal zone in the ocean. As of July, 2023, this amazing vessel has carried 21 humans to Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. This unparalleled achievement is due to the scrupulous attention paid to safety and our shared core belief in building classed submersibles. The LF was classified to “unlimited depth” by DNV.
The submersible below is one of the greatest engineering achievements in the history of deep sea exploration. As Rob McCallum described the repeated dives to the bottom of the ocean to Ben Taub for a 2020 article in the New Yorker, “it’s like a daily flight to the Moon“. The proof is in the pudding. The tremendous accomplishments of the Triton team, its sponsor and chief explorer Victor Vescovo, and the EYOS team point the way forward for safe and responsible exploration of the deep ocean. The scientific results from Dr. Alan Jamieson and others’ work are already extraordinary, and there is so much more to look forward to. Stay safe!