Filmmaker and deep-sea explorer James Cameron said Tuesday that the implosion of the Titan submersible that killed five people last month was an “extreme aberration” in decades of safe underwater exploration.
The Titanic movie director told reporters in Ottawa that faulty engineering was to blame for the incident, which happened as the submersible was en route to visit the site of the famous ship’s wreck in the Atlantic Ocean.
“The ocean can be a very unforgiving environment,” Cameron said.
The company that owns the Titan, OceanGate, has now ceased commercial and exploration operations.
Remote-controlled vehicles have recovered parts of the Titan from the ocean floor, along with what are believed to be human remains.
The submersible imploded as it approached the wreck of the Titanic on June 18, killing all five people on board, including OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush. Two members of a prominent Pakistani family, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, British adventurer Hamish Harding and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet were also killed in the implosion.
James Cameron said Mr Nargeolet was a good friend and they had a friendly competition to see who had the most scuba diving experience.
“It’s an emotional shock,” he said of Mr. Nargeolet’s death.
Cameron was in Ottawa on Tuesday for the opening of a new exhibit on his own submersible, the Deepsea Challenger.
In 2012, he descended to the deepest ocean in the Challenger, plunging 11,000 meters into the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.
He called the green and blue submersible, now on display at the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, an example of proper engineering and preparation before embarking on an underwater expedition.
“I’m a screenwriter. I can create many unpleasant scenarios in my head, and then we can counter them,” Cameron said.
He added that engineers need to consider the many risks that can lead to failures with submersible designs. For seven years before her maiden voyage, everything had been tested to ensure passenger safety.
“That’s how it should be,” he said.
Mr Cameron said he conducted 10 to 12 hour simulations in the Deepsea Challenger, preparing for a range of situations including a fire on board.
“We did it like NASA did,” he said. I entered this vehicle with great confidence. »
Mr Cameron said submersibles have a proven track record of safety.
“I think it’s really important for people to remember that the deep submergence community has had over half a century of perfect safety and no fatal incidents,” he said.
Cameron also said he wouldn’t be surprised to see new regulatory efforts enacted in response to the Titan implosion.
He said these regulations should be specific to ships that carry passengers and should be treated the same as existing measures for boats or ships.