A new anniversary may be tagged to the site where 111 years ago, the Titanic sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean almost 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. On Father’s Day this year, a submersible named the Titan, manned by the company OceanGate, had deployed to the depths of the sea in hopes that its passengers would view the wreckage of the Titanic. Four days after the Titan began its expedition, sections of the vessel were located on the ocean floor. Due to what the US Coast Guard has identified as a catastrophic implosion of the pressure chamber, the passengers perished.
Even though each passenger signed liability waivers, the owner of OceanGate may still face potential wrongful death lawsuits filed by family members of the deceased. The five passengers aboard the submersible were OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, successful Pakistani philanthropist Shahzada Dawood and his teenage son Suleman, British businessman Hamish Harding, and Titanic expert and former officer of the French Navy Paul-Henry Nargeolet. If families decide to take legal action, the degree of OceanGate’s negligence would need to be determined, as well as the company’s knowledge of any defects in the vessel’s construction, equipment, durability, or electrical capabilities.
According to a previous lawsuit filed by former OceanGate employee, David Lochridge, there were significant safety concerns over the distance the vessel could travel. In his position, Lochridge offered corrective solutions to the posed issues, but claimed that he was not provided information about the submersible in its entirety. Specifically, he was initially forbidden from reading the viewport data, but later learned that the Titan’s viewport was only certified to reach depths of 1,300 meters. The purpose of OceanGate’s Titan, however, was to take high paying tourists to the Titanic wreck at almost 4,000 meters. OceanGate failed to heed Lochridge’s concerns, and instead fired him and sued him for unveiling confidential information, data which might have later prevented a devastating loss.