On Thursday, June 22, four days after the underwater vessel went missing during a tour of the Titanic site in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, OceanGate announced that all five passengers were believed to be dead. First Coast Guard District commander Rear Admr. John Mauger said the debris found off the Canada coast is consistent with a “catastrophic implosion” of the submersible.
“People in the community were very concerned about this sub,” Cameron, 68, told ABC News on Thursday, echoing the criticism of many who did not believe the Titan was safe enough for this mission. (Prior to this disaster, the submersible had explored the Titanic wreckage twice, both times with issues, though no one was hurt.)
“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 it needed to be certified,” Cameron — who is a diving expert and was good friends with Titan passenger Paul-Henri Nargeolet — noted.
“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 shared. (The filmmaker included footage from his visits to the wreck site in the epic film, which won a historic 11 Oscars at the 1998 ceremony.)
“For us, it’s a very similar tragedy where warnings went unheeded,” he continued. “To take place at the same exact site with all the diving that’s going on all around the world, I think it’s just astonishing. It’s really quite surreal.”
Cameron went on to mourn his friend “PH,” calling the French explorer a “legendary submersible dive pilot” who he had known for 25 years. “For him to have died tragically in this way is almost impossible for me to process,” the Canada native said. (Nargeolet, for his part, had visited the Titanic wreck 37 times.)
Nargeolet was one of five passengers who is presumed to have died on the Titan. OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, father-son duo Shahzada Dawood and Suleman Dawood, and British billionaire Harding were also on board.
“It might be distasteful being here but my family would want me to be at the Blink-182 show as it’s my favorite band and music helps me in difficult times,” Szasz, 37, wrote via Facebook on Monday, June 19. While his attendance at the event was critiqued by many on social media, including Cardi B — plus his own mother, who insisted he take it down — Szasz defended his decision to go to the concert.
“I went to a Blink 182 concert for coping rather than sitting at home and watching the news,” he said in response to Cardi B’s criticism.