In a shocking turn of events, a tourist submersible that went missing during an expedition to explore the wreckage of the Titanic has unveiled a series of safety complaints made by a former employee of OceanGate, the parent company in charge of the submersible.
The employee’s concerns, which included doubts about the submersible’s ability to withstand extreme depths, were brought to light through legal documents obtained by The New Republic. The revelations have raised serious questions about the safety protocols surrounding such expeditions.
David Lochridge – The Employee’s Concerns and Termination
According to the court documents, David Lochridge, a skilled submersible pilot and the director of marine operations at OceanGate, voiced his apprehensions about the submersible’s safety.
As the individual responsible for ensuring the well-being of both crew members and clients, Lochridge expressed doubts about the submersible’s capability to descend to the extreme depths required for exploring the Titanic wreck. Unfortunately, his concerns fell on deaf ears, and instead of addressing the issues raised, Lochridge was terminated from his position.
A Breach of Contract Case and Whistleblower Allegations
Lochridge’s termination led to a legal battle between him and OceanGate. During this case, it was revealed that Lochridge had refused to authorize manned tests of the early submersible models due to serious safety concerns.
As a result of this refusal and his subsequent disclosure of confidential information regarding the submersible, Lochridge faced legal action from OceanGate. In response, Lochridge filed a compulsory counterclaim, asserting that he was wrongfully terminated for being a whistleblower, exposing the submersible’s quality and safety issues.
Safety and Quality Control Issues
Lochridge’s counterclaim shed light on several critical safety and quality control issues surrounding the submersible. He highlighted the flaws present in the previously tested 1/3 scale model, as well as visible flaws in the carbon end samples for the Titan submersible.
Lochridge stressed the potential danger to passengers as the submersible reached extreme depths, explaining that the constant pressure cycling weakens existing flaws and can lead to significant damage. He emphasized the importance of non-destructive testing to identify such flaws, ensuring the safety of both passengers and crew.
Hostility and Denial of Access to Documentation
During a meeting at OceanGate’s facility, Lochridge expressed his concerns to the engineering staff. However, he faced hostility and denial of access to crucial documentation necessary for his inspection process.
Lochridge’s attempts to obtain information about the viewport design and pressure test results of the submersible were met with resistance. Instead of freely providing the required documentation, he encountered obstacles, hindering his ability to thoroughly evaluate the submersible’s safety measures.
Failure to Address Safety Concerns
Despite Lochridge’s earnest efforts to communicate and address the safety concerns surrounding the submersible, OceanGate’s management failed to take appropriate action. His inspection report presented numerous issues that posed significant safety concerns, along with recommended corrective actions for each problem.
Of particular concern was the lack of non-destructive testing performed on the hull of the Titan submersible. Lochridge’s attempts to emphasize the importance of conducting such tests were dismissed, with claims that no equipment was available for this purpose.
David Lochridge’s Discovery of Viewport Limitations was Unconcerned
During a crucial meeting involving OceanGate‘s CEO, human resources director, engineering director, Lochridge, and the operations director, an alarming discovery was made. Lochridge learned that the viewport located at the forward section of the submersible was only built to withstand a certified pressure of 1,300 meters, significantly lower than the intended depth of 4,000 meters for passenger exploration.
Shockingly, the manufacturer had refused to certify the viewport to the required depth due to experimental design by OceanGate, which did not meet industry standards. OceanGate, however, was reluctant to invest in a viewport that met the necessary safety requirements.
Lack of Passenger Disclosure
One of the most troubling aspects highlighted by Lochridge was the lack of disclosure to paying passengers. Despite the existence of safety concerns and the use of hazardous flammable materials within the submersible, passengers were unaware of the risks they were exposed to during their underwater excursions.
Lochridge expressed his concerns about this lack of transparency, which could potentially jeopardize the safety of the passengers in case of an emergency.
Settlement and Lack of Progress in the Case
The legal dispute between Lochridge and OceanGate reached a settlement a few months after the initial proceedings. Unfortunately, the details of the settlement remain undisclosed. This lack of transparency raises questions about the extent to which the safety concerns were addressed and whether the necessary measures were taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Current Search Efforts and Conclusion
Currently, search efforts are ongoing to locate the missing tourist submersible. The Coast Guard has already covered an extensive area of approximately 10,000 square miles. It is reported that the submersible had the capacity to remain underwater for approximately 96 hours, leaving hope that the missing passengers can be located and rescued. However, the circumstances surrounding their disappearance and the safety concerns raised by Lochridge continue to cast a shadow over the entire incident.
In conclusion, the court documents pertaining to the missing tourist submersible have unveiled a troubling series of safety concerns brought forth by a former employee of OceanGate. These concerns highlight potential risks associated with the submersible’s design and the lack of attention given to critical safety measures. As search efforts persist, it is crucial that proper investigations take place to address these concerns, ensure passenger safety, and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
- Q: What were the safety concerns raised by the former employee? A: The former employee raised concerns about the submersible’s capability to descend to extreme depths, flaws in the carbon material used in construction, and the lack of non-destructive testing.
- Q: Were the safety concerns addressed by OceanGate? A: No, despite the employee’s efforts, the safety concerns were not adequately addressed by OceanGate.
- Q: What were the limitations of the submersible’s viewport? A: The submersible’s viewport was only certified to a depth of 1,300 meters, while OceanGate intended to take passengers to depths of 4,000 meters.
- Q: Were passengers informed about the safety risks associated with the submersible? A: According to the employee’s allegations, passengers were not informed about the safety risks or the use of hazardous flammable materials within the submersible.
- Q: What is the current status of the search efforts? A: The Coast Guard is actively conducting search operations covering an area of approximately 10,000 square miles in an attempt to locate the missing submersible and its passengers.
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