James Cameron Thinks He Knows What Really Happened With the Titanic Submersible, and It Doesn't Make the Navy Look Good

The film director, who has led more than 30 expeditions to the wreck of the Titanic, has his own take on what happened.

OceanGate Expeditions’ submersible Titan
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The events of last June left a permanent mark the ocean expedition industry. That month, OceanGate’s Titan submersible had an accident while descending to witness the wreck of the Titanic. All five tourists on board lost their lives, and since then, many voices have made their criticism known. 

One year later, James Cameron, director of films like Titanic and Terminator and a seasoned underwater explorer with dozens of dives under his belt, has given his take on the tragedy and pointed out who he believes is responsible for the disaster.

Cameron vs. the Navy. Cameron spoke about the Titan incident in a recent interview on 60 Minutes Australia. At the time, officials stated that the submarine’s disappearance triggered a days-long search by the U.S. Coast Guard with the help of Canadian authorities. Well, according to Cameron, the search didn't really happen.

The director said that the Navy knew what was happening when it detected an implosion near the Titanic’s wreck site and then marked the details as classified to keep the media away. Moreover, Cameron claims the Navy then spent days exaggerating the possibility of a rescue when there was no chance the passengers would be found.

An authoritative voice. Cameron isn’t only a film director. He’s also a passionate and knowledgeable documentarian of the ocean who has become an seasoned explorer over time. In fact, he's carried out 33 dives to the Titanic’s wreck and is part of the deep-sea diving community.

Before the Titan began its fatal descent, the director and other members of the deep-sea diving community wrote a letter to OceanGate saying that they believed the passengers were “on the path to disaster.”

“We all knew they were dead.” Cameron was confident when recalling the incident and its tragic outcome. For the director, the whole search was essentially the plot of a movie because “nobody could admit it, they didn’t have the means to go down and look for the sub.” He added that while “the entire world [was waiting] with bated breath. Talking about 96 hours of oxygen. We all knew they were dead.”

Accusations against the Navy. How did the Navy do in the director’s eyes? In the interview, he says they did what they had to, but it wasn’t right. Cameron doesn’t think they lied, but “they went by a procedure that was torturous for the family.” Moreover, in his view, he would take the case further, “they just didn’t disclose it, and I think they should press charges.”

The main culprit. Inside the submersible were OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, billionaire explorer Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood,  Dawood's son Suleman, and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

Cameron says the blame what happened rests solely on Rush. He also adds that OceanGate shouldn’t have been allowed to carry passengers. “Mr. Rush took others with him, and he should have listened to the warnings,” Cameron said.

Back to the Titanic (again). At the end of the interview, Cameron said he plans to honor his friend Nargeolet by returning to the Titanic. “We’re building a submarine that can reach 4,000 meters (13,100 feet). I may go back to the Titanic in that submarine to show that it can be done safely,” Cameron said in the interview.

Image | OceanGate Expeditions

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