A billionaire father and son duo, a wealthy explorer, a diver with decades of experience and the founder of the company leading a submersible voyage to explore the Titanic are presumed dead after search teams discovered debris from the sub on the sea floor.
“The debris is consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber,” Rear Adm. John Mauger, the US Coast Guard First District commander, told reporters Thursday.
The small vessel – roughly the size of a minivan – had been missing since Sunday when it lost contact with its mothership on the surface about 1 hour and 45 minutes into its descent to explore the Titanic wreckage.
The suspected implosion left two debris fields, but authorities didn’t say whether the bodies of the submariners were spotted or might be recovered.
These were the five people who were on board:
OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush
Stockton Rush cultivated a reputation as a nature lover, adventurer and visionary.
He graduated from Princeton in 1984 and went to work for the McDonnell Douglas Corp. as a flight test engineer on the F-15 program. He obtained an MBA from University of California, Berkeley, in 1989, according to his company bio.
Rush founded OceanGate in 2009, with a stated mission of “increasing access to the deep ocean through innovation.”
In his eagerness to explore, Rush, 61, often appeared skeptical, if not dismissive, of regulations that might slow innovation.
The commercial sub industry is “obscenely safe,” he told Smithsonian Magazine in 2019, “because they have all these regulations. But it also hasn’t innovated or grown — because they have all these regulations.”
Rush said he believes deeply that the sea, rather than the sky, offers humanity the best shot at survival when the Earth’s surface becomes uninhabitable.
“The future of mankind is underwater. It’s not on Mars,” he told Mexican YouTuber Alan Estrada. “We will have a base underwater. … If we trash this planet, the best lifeboat for mankind is underwater.”
In his interview with Smithsonian in 2019, he relayed his almost-spiritual attraction to the deep sea. He called it “the deep disease.”
“I went to 75 feet. I saw cool stuff. I went 100 feet and saw more cool stuff. And I was like, ‘Wow, what’s it gonna be like at the end of this thing?’”