Titanic director James Cameron knew about the sub's fate since Monday

"We now have another wreck that is based on unfortunately the same principles of not heeding warnings."
Sejal Sharma
James Cameron(Left) and the ill-fated Titan submersible(Right).
James Cameron(Left) and the ill-fated Titan submersible(Right).

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The news of the implosion of the Titan submersible and the death of the five passengers it was carrying has sent shockwaves across the world.

But the director of the 1997 film Titanic, James Cameron, was not all that surprised when the news broke on Thursday. Cameron says he knew about a possible implosion on Monday itself. In an interview with CNN, Cameron said, "I’ve been living with it for a few days now, as have some of my other colleagues in the deep submergence community."

Cameron, who has dived into the Titanic wreck area 33 times himself, said as soon as he got word of the missing vessel on Monday, he contacted his people in the closed-knit deep submergence community. He said, "I found out some information within about a half hour that they had lost comms, that they had lost tracking simultaneously. The only scenario that I could come up with in my mind that could account for that was an implosion, a shockwave event so powerful that it took out a secondary system that has its own pressure vessel and its own battery power supply, which is the transponder that the ship uses to track where the sub is."

Cameron was diving to the wreck site when 9/11 happened

There were massive rescue and search operations in the designated area in the Atlantic Ocean over the last four days. Hope was revived Tuesday when the sound of loud ‘banging’ was picked up by the sonar, but the US Navy revealed Thursday that they had picked up an anomaly on Sunday that was likely the Titan’s implosion.

Cameron confirmed that he had known about the ‘anomaly’ since Monday, and he was disheartened to see ‘futile’ search and rescue operations in full swing.

“I watched over the ensuing days this whole sort of ‘everybody running around with their hair on fire’ search, knowing full well that it was futile, hoping against hope that I was wrong but knowing in my bones that I wasn’t. So it certainly wasn’t a surprise today. I just feel terrible for the families that had to go through all these false hopes that kept getting dangled as it played out,” he added.

There have also been reports that the Titan submersible had safety and technical issues. Alarms were raised about the faulty hull of the vessel but they went largely unaddressed. Pointing out the irony of the catastrophe, Cameron likened the implosion of the Titan sub to the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. 

"We now have another wreck that is based on unfortunately the same principles of not heeding warnings," he told BBC. "OceanGate were warned."

Next: Investigating what went wrong

The ROV deployed in the deep seas was also able to find debris of the submersible, including the vessel’s tail cone and the landing frame. Over the next couple of weeks and probably months, investigators will try to find whether the cause of the implosion was structural failure.

"There is no black box, so you are not going to be able to track the last movements of the vessel itself," said Ryan Ramsey, a former submarine captain in Britain's Royal Navy. But the investigation process will be similar to that of a plane crash, he told BBC.

As investigators are still finding all the remaining pieces of the vessel, once compiled, they will look for the broken structure in the carbon fiber structure, which will help understand what happened in those last moments, he added. 

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