On 18 June 2023, Titan submersible implosion took place during an expedition to view the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. 


Everyone, on board the submersible:

Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate

Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French deep Sea Explorer Titanic expert

Hamish Harding, a British billionaire businessman

Shahzada Dawood, a Pakistani-British billionaire businessman

Suleman, Dawood’s son.

What Happened while Titan Submersible Implosion

18 June, dive and disappearance

The dive operation began on 18 June at 9:30 a.m. Newfoundland Daylight Time (NDT).  For the first hour and a half of the descent, Titan communicated with Polar Prince every 15 minutes, but communication stopped after a recorded communication at 11:15 a.m. The submersible was expected to resurface at 4:30 p.m.  At 7:10 p.m. the U.S. Coast Guard was notified of the missing vessel. The Navy reviewed its acoustic data from that time, and passed the information about the possible implosion event to the Coast Guard. 

18–22 June, search and rescue efforts

The United States Coast GuardUnited States Navy, and Canadian Coast Guard led the search and rescue efforts. The search involved both a surface search and an underwater sonar search. The U.S. Coast Guard indicated that the search and rescue mission was difficult because of the remote location, weather, darkness, sea conditions, and water temperature.

22 June, discovery of debris

Rear Admiral John Mauger delivers a press briefing in Boston on 22 June.

At 1:18 p.m., on 22 June the U.S. Coast Guard found a debris field near the wreck of the Titanic. The debris was later confirmed to be part of the submersible. At 4:30 p.m. the Coast Guard declared that the loss of the submersible was due to an implosion of the pressure chamber and that pieces of Titan had been found on the sea floor about 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic

The debris field was concentrated in two areas, with the aft end bell lying separate from the front end bell and the tail cone. 

Rear Admiral John Mauger of the US Coast Guard said that the debris was consistent with a Titan submersible implosion is due to

Catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber”.

28 June, Horizon Arctic returned to St. John’s Harbour with the remains of Titan that were recovered from the debris field.  The debris was to be transported to the U.S. as evidence in the investigation. The Coast Guard confirmed that presumed human remains were found within the debris, and that American medical professionals would conduct an analysis.  

30 June, Insider published an analysis of the recovery photos by Plymouth University professor Jasper Graham-Jones. He concluded that a failure of the carbon-fibre hull was the most likely cause of the loss, the acrylic viewing window may have failed, noting that the lifting strap for the window’s bell housing went through the porthole. 

About Titan Submersible

Formerly known as Cyclops 2Titan was a five-person submersible vessel, operated by American tourism and expeditions company OceanGate. 6.7-metre-long (22 ft), 10,432 kg (23,000 lb) vessel was constructed from carbon fibre and titanium. The entire pressure vessel consisted of two titanium hemispheres with matching titanium interface rings bonded to the 142 cm (56 in) internal diameter, 2.4-metre-long (7.9 ft) carbon fibre-wound cylinder. One of the titanium hemispherical end caps was fitted with a 380 mm-diameter (15 in) acrylic window.


OceanGate is a private company, founded in 2009 by Stockton Rush and Guillermo Söhnlein. Rush realised that visiting shipwreck sites was a way to get media attention. In 2019, Rush told Smithsonian magazine “There’s only one wreck that everyone knows … If you ask people to name something underwater, it’s going to be sharks, whales, Titanic“.

Each dive typically had a pilot, a guide, and three paying passengers on board. Once inside the submersible, the hatch would be bolted shut and could only be reopened from the outside. Throughout about eight hours journey, the submersible was expected to emit a safety ping every 15 minutes to be monitored by the above-water crew. The vessel and surface crew were also able to communicate via short text messages. 

Why Titan Submersible Implosion Happened?

Because Titan operated in international waters and did not carry passengers from a port, it was not subject to safety regulations. The vessel was not certified as seaworthy by any regulatory agency or third-party organization.  All passengers who enter Titan sign a waiver confirming their knowledge that it is an “experimental” vessel “that has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body, and could result in physical injury, disability, emotional trauma or death”.  The waiver “mentions death three times on page one”.

A 2019 article published in Smithsonian magazine referred to Rush as a “daredevil inventor”. In the article, Rush is described as having said the U.S. Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993 “needlessly prioritized passenger safety over commercial innovation”.

In a 2022 interview, Rush told CBS News, “At some point, safety just is pure waste”.

Numerous industry experts had raised concerns about the safety of the vessel. OceanGate executives, including Rush, had not sought certification for Titan, arguing that excessive safety protocols hindered innovation.

In 2020, Rush said that the hull, originally designed to reach 4,000 m (13,000 ft) below sea level, had been downgraded to a depth rating of 3,000 m (9,800 ft) after demonstrating signs of cyclic fatigue. In 2020 and 2021, the hull was repaired or rebuilt.

Rush said in a 2021 interview, “I’ve broken some rules to make Titan. I think I’ve broken them with logic and good engineering behind me. The carbon fiber and titanium, there’s a rule you don’t do that. Well, I did.” 

Rush told the Travel Weekly editor-in-chief that the carbon fibre had been sourced at a discount from Boeing because it was too old for use in the company’s airplanes. Boeing stated they have no records of any sale to Rush or to OceanGate.

Lloyd’s Register, a ship classification society, declined OceanGate’s request to class the vessel in 2019. 

Titan could move at up to 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) using four electric thrusters, arrayed two horizontal and two vertical.

Its steering controls consisted of a Logitech F710 wireless game controller with modified analogue sticks

There is no GPS underwater; the support ship, which monitored the position of Titan relative to its target, sent text messages to Titan providing distances and directions.

Prior Concerns

In 2018, OceanGate’s director of marine operations, David Lochridge, composed a report documenting safety concerns he had about Titan. In court documents, Lochridge said that he had urged the company to have Titan assessed and certified by an agency, but OceanGate had declined to do so, citing an unwillingness to pay. He also said that the transparent viewport on its forward end, due to its nonstandard and therefore experimental design, was only certified to a depth of 1,300 m (4,300 ft), only a third of the depth required to reach the Titanic.  He was also concerned that OceanGate would not perform nondestructive testing on the vessel’s hull before undertaking crewed dives, and alleged that he was “repeatedly told that no scan of the hull or Bond Line could be done to check for delaminationsporosity and voids of sufficient adhesion of the glue being used due to the thickness of the hull”.

In 2018, the Marine Technology Society wrote a letter to Rush expressing “unanimous concern regarding the development of ‘TITAN’ and the planned Titanic Expedition”, indicating that the “current experimental approach could result in negative outcomes (from minor to catastrophic) that would have serious consequences for everyone in the industry”.

In March 2018, Rob McCallum, a leading deep sea exploration specialist, emailed Rush to warn him in which he said: “I think you are potentially placing yourself and your clients in a dangerous dynamic. In your race to Titanic you are mirroring that famous catch cry: ‘She is unsinkable'”.


OceanGate claimed on its website as of 2023 that Titan was “designed and engineered by OceanGate Inc. in collaboration with experts from NASA, Boeing, and the University of Washington“.  A ⅓-scale model of the Cyclops 2 pressure vessel was built and tested at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) at UW; the model was able to sustain a pressure of 4,285 psi (29.54 MPa; 291.6 atm), corresponding to a depth of about 3,000 m (9,800 ft).

After the disappearance of Titan in 2023, these earlier associates distanced themselves from the Titan project. UW claimed the APL had no involvement in the “design, engineering, or testing of the Titan submersible”. A Boeing spokesperson also claimed Boeing “was not a partner on the Titan and did not design or build it”. A NASA spokesperson said that NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center had a Space Act Agreement with OceanGate, but “did not conduct testing and manufacturing via its workforce or facilities”.

According to OceanGate, the vessel contained monitoring systems to continuously monitor the strength of the hull. The vessel had life support for five people for 96 hours. Titan had several backup systems intended to return the vessel to the surface in case of emergency, including ballasts that could be dropped, a balloon, thrusters, and sandbags held by hooks that dissolved after a certain number of hours in saltwater. Ideally, this would release the sandbags, allowing the vessel to float to the surface. 

An OceanGate investor explained that if the vessel did not automatically ascend after the elapsed time, those inside could help release the ballast either by tilting the ship back and forth to dislodge it or by using a pneumatic pump to loosen the weights. 

OceanGate claimed that Titan was the only crewed submersible that used RTM, “an integrated real-time health monitoring system”. The proprietary system, patented by Rush. This supposedly would function to give early warning of problems and allow enough time to abort the descent and return to the surface. 

OceanGate said that Lochridge, who was not an engineer, had refused to accept safety approvals from OceanGate’s engineering team. 


The primary task of a submersible is to not implode. 

The second is to reach the surface, even if the pilot is unconscious, with oxygen to spare. 

The third is for the occupants to be able to open the hatch once they surface. 

The fourth is for the submersible to be easy to find, through redundant tracking and communications systems, in case rescue is required. 

Only the fifth task is what is ordinarily thought of as the primary one: to transport people into the dark, hostile deep.

The Titan submersible implosion incident is declared a “major marine casualty”. The disaster seemed preventable, and were indirectly caused by someone deliberately ignoring safety warnings from others.

The Titan Submersible Was “an Accident Waiting to Happen”

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