Titan sub CEO had 'meltdown' in 2016 after getting stuck underwater

Titan sub CEO had 'meltdown' in 2016 after getting stuck underwater

August 17, 2023

Titan CEO Stockton Rush had one hour meltdown after he got another sub stuck in Andrea Doria wreck in 2016 then hurled joystick controller at safety engineer David Lochridge to save them

  • Rush died on June 18, 2023, along with the other four men on board Titan 
  • In 2016, he lodged the sub into the wreckage of the Andrea Doria, another ship
  • Eventually, engineer David Lochridge got the group to safety but Rush had refused his help for an hour 
  • Since the Titan disaster, many anecdotes of Rush’s ignorance towards safety have emerged  

Stockton Rush, the CEO of the doomed Titan sub once had a one-hour meltdown during a previous dive after getting the vessel lodged in another shipwreck, and hurled the joystick controller at a safety engineer to save him.

The tantrum was reported today for the first time by Vanity Fair. 

It took place in 2016 while Rush and a handful of others were exploring the wreck of the Andrea Doria. 

The Andrea Doria sank in 1956 after colliding with another vessel. Its wreckage sits around 250ft underwater, not far south of Nantucket.  

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush is shown on board the Titan. He died along with the three tourists and pilot who died when the sub imploded on June 18

In 2016, Rush led a group to the wreckage of the Andrea Doria but became lodged in its under-water hull. He eventually allowed an engineer onboard to lead them back to the surface but only after coming under pressure from his high-paying clients 

Engineer David Lochridge, who was later fired by Rush for continuously raising concerns about the Titan’s safety, was on-board along with a handful of clients. 

Rush insisted on steering the vessel, the Cyclops 1, and landing it near the wreckage. 

The engineer, David Lochridge, was eventually fired for raising concerns about Titan and OceanGate

He ignored recommendations of where to land and inadvertently lodged the Titan in the wreckage of the ship. 

After an hour of panic, he finally relented and allowed Lochridge to take the joystick controller and guide the group back to the surface.

It was only after one of the high-paying guests urged him: ‘Give him the f*****g controller’. 

The anecdote sheds yet more light on Rush’s absolute refusal to admit his own shortcomings or those of his prized project.

On June 18, he led a group of three tourists down to the Titanic wreckage site with French pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77.

The vessel imploded underwater, killing the men instantly, and sparking a multi-day search and rescue operation.

Since the disaster, a swathe of anecdotes and proof of Rush’s ignorance towards safety and concerns has become public. 

He had ignored multiple warnings from others in the deep sea community about why his commercial sub was not safe, including from Lochridge, who saved the team in the 2016 dive. 

He also refused to subject Titan to a thermal scan that would have exposed weaknesses in the hull, instead relying on ‘acoustics’ to signal any vulnerabilities. 

The Vanity Fair expose details one incident where he watched it implode at 4,000 psi, a pressure equivalent to only 2,740 meters. 

He claimed it was a ‘success’. 

Lochridge, who had moved from Scotland to Washington state with his family to work for Rush, was ultimately fired for voicing his concerns. 

The search for the submarine consumed the country for several days in June 

Among them was his observation that the hull bore ‘Swiss cheese’ holes. 

When his verbal warnings were ignored, he put them in writing. 

‘Verbal communication of the key items I have addressed in my attached document have been dismissed on several occasions, so I feel now I must make this report so there is an official record in place,’ he said.  

He was also sued by Rush and OceanGate, his company, tried to compel Lochridge to pay its legal fees. Rush was selling tickets for the Titanic voyage for $250,000 per person.

Eventually, OceanGate settled with Lochridge after he counter-sued for wrongful termination. 

Lochridge has not spoken publicly since the Titan disaster, likely to ensure he does not breach the conditions of the settlement. 

None of the families of the tourists who died have filed any kind of lawsuit against OceanGate or its surviving employees. They all signed waivers before the expedition acknowledging the risk. 

The company shut down two weeks after the disaster.  

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