A leaked email from a former OceanGate employee has sparked outrage and controversy in the subsea exploration community. The email, sent by Submersible Operations Expert Rob McCallum to CEO Stockton Rush in 2018, warned him of the impending dangers of using “un-classed technology” in a very hostile place in deep waters, and accused him of potentially putting an “entire industry at risk”.
McCallum, who has over 30 years of experience in submersible operations and expeditions, was hired by OceanGate as a consultant for their Titanic Survey Expedition, a project that aimed to take paying customers to the wreck site of the Titanic using a carbon fiber and titanium submersible called Titan.
However, McCallum soon became concerned about the safety and reliability of the submersible, which he claimed was not certified by any recognized authority and lacked proper testing and documentation.
In his email McCallum expressed his frustration with Rush’s attitude and alleged lack of respect for the established standards and regulations of the subsea industry. “You are wanting to use a prototype un-classed technology in a very hostile place. As much as I appreciate entrepreneurship and innovation, you are potentially putting an entire industry at risk”
However according to the leaked email, Rush did not appreciate McCallum’s warning and advice. In his reply email, he dismissed McCallum’s concerns as baseless and unfounded. He wrote: “I have grown tired of industry players who try to use a safety argument to stop innovation and new entrants from entering their small existing market”.
He also told McCallum that he felt insulted when people warned him that he might kill someone one day by using prototype technology. He wrote: “Since Guillermo and I started OceanGate we have heard the baseless cries of ‘you are going to kill someone’ way too often. I take this as a serious personal insult”.
The leaked email exchange has gone viral on social media platforms such as Twitter and Reddit, where users have expressed their shock and outrage at Rush’s behavior and attitude.
Many have criticized him for being reckless, irresponsible, arrogant, and disrespectful towards McCallum and the subsea industry. Hindsight is 20/20 though.
The lives of five people aboard the OceanGate Titan submersible including CEO Stockton Rush were lost when a “catastrophic implosion” occurred on June 18, about 435 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.