“I understand that this submarine is almost ‘homemade’ and has received no certification from any scientific and technical regulatory body,” asks Tim Staffel. “Is this true?”
Most major marine operators require charter vessels to be “classified” by an independent body such as the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS).
The Titan, the submarine involved in this case, is not classified according to Oceangate. In a blog post from 2019, the company says this is the innovation behind their ship, which makes it difficult for an external system to certify:
“Class agencies are willing to pursue certification of new and innovative designs and ideas, which often have a multi-year approval cycle… It’s distasteful to bring in an outside agency to accelerate each innovation before putting it to real-world testing. Rapid innovation.’
SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic rely on experienced experts to oversee day-to-day operations, testing and validation, and bring in outsiders who must first be educated before they are qualified to ‘verify’ any findings.’
The BBC’s American partner, CBS, sent a reporter with the same company last year to witness the wreck of the Titanic.
In his report, David Bock reads what appears to be a disclaimer describing the submarine as an “experimental” vessel, “not approved or certified by any regulatory body and capable of causing physical injury, disability, emotional distress or death”.
Bock, at the time, questioned CEO Stockton Rush about the ‘Jerry-rigged nature’ of some elements.
In response, Rush said the company worked with NASA and Boeing to ensure the safety of the pressure vessel.