The death of five people in the Titan submarine southeast of Newfoundland provides an unfortunate object lesson for our society. When ideals overrule practicality, the cost can be fatal.
OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush brought four passengers with him in the Titan to visit the Titanic wreckage. Unfortunately, he took them to their demise. We know some of the reason why due to a Zoom interview he had with the company Teledyne Marine.
“When I started the business, old-timers in the industry told me I was nuts, and they continue to tell me that — partly because I said I was going to take inexperienced pilots in a submarine, in current, in zero visibility — and they thought I was insane,” Rush said.
The 61-year-old explained that “other sub operators…typically have gentlemen who are ex-military submariners, and you’ll see a whole bunch of 50-year-old white guys.”
Oh no, not that. If dead white males are to blame for our supposedly evil western society, old white males must be the next worst thing.
“I wanted our team to be younger, to be inspirational, and I’m not going to inspire a 16-year-old to go pursue marine technology, but a 25-year-old who’s a sub pilot or a platform operator or one of our techs can be inspirational,” Rush said.
“So we’ve really tried to get very intelligent, motivated, younger individuals involved because we’re doing things that are completely new.”
There’s a place for youth and innovation, but it may not be at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, almost four kilometres below sea level. Unfortunately, the OceanGate CEO did not have the depth of wisdom to match his pursuits.
“We can train someone to pilot the sub, we use a game controller. So anybody can drive the sub,” Rush said.
“And we also wanted our team to have a variety of different backgrounds…Really get people that have diverse background and then train them, and train and train and train, so that it does come off as a polished and safe operation.”
Yes, but a “pool” of people already trained was there for Rush if he didn’t have such a discriminatory bent on the age and race he wanted for his workforce. As it was “a polished and safe operation” is the farthest thing the Titan will be remembered as.
Submersible pilot David Lochridge, a former employee of OceanGate Expeditions was fired by the company. He filed a lawsuit against the company in 2018, alleging the Titan was going to travel far deeper than the 4,265 feet (1300 m) it was designed to, even though a carbon fiber hull had never done so.
Predictably, the submersible imploded hours after it began its descent. In a June 22 interview with ABC News, movie director James Cameron said this was a disaster waiting to happen.
“Many people in the community were very concerned about this sub. And a number of the top players in the deep submergence engineering community even wrote letters to the company saying that what they were doing was too experimental to carry passengers and that needed to be certified and so on.
“So I’m struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself, where the captain was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship, and yet he steamed at full speed into an ice field on a moonless night, and many people died as a result.”
Cameron said he had heard the submarine operators had noticed a problem and were trying to return to the surface when their boat succumbed to external pressures.
“This OceanGate sub had sensors on the inside of the hull to give them a warning when it was starting to crack. And I think if that’s your idea of safety, then you’re doing it wrong.”
As minimal as a warning sensor may be, it seems more than what some left-leaning policy makers have. The cracks are readily apparent from numerous policies, and, unless the purpose is to make western society implode, they should be discontinued immediately.
To the extent that gender, race, and even sexual orientation/gender identity quotas affect hiring, they also compromise merit. Unfortunately, that consideration has kept the best and brightest out of the federal civil service. An old white male finds out what systemic discrimination is should he try to apply.
The hellbent quest for net zero carbon emission should also set off sound alarm bells louder than bomb shelter sirens. Canada has just 1.6 percent of global emissions, despite a substantial oil and gas sector, and a citizenry bound to cold weather. Yet, for some reason, this country is shutting down coal-fired plants while China builds two new ones each week. We are destroying ourselves for a fanciful and wildly impractical notion.
If the Titan is any indication, Canada could implode long before it reaches its net zero destination. And unless the course correction comes soon, it could be too late. If we reject the wisdom of our elders, including white ones, it will be to our peril.
Lee Harding is a Research Fellow for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.