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OceanGate co-founder hits back at James Cameron's criticism of Titanic sub
Featured Image Credit: BBC / CNN

OceanGate co-founder hits back at James Cameron's criticism of Titanic sub

Guillermo Söhnlein, who co-founded the business in 2009, has defended his former company

The co-founder of OceanGate has defended his former company following criticism from Titanic director James Cameron.

Guillermo Söhnlein, who founded the company in 2009 alongside Stockton Rush, has defended his former business partner, insisting he was 'committed to safety'.

Rush was among the five Titan passengers killed earlier this week after the vessel imploded during a tourism visit to the wreckage of the Titanic.

The other passengers included French marine expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, British billionaire Hamish Harding and British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman.

Since news of the tragedy broke, the expedition has received criticism from those concerned about its safety precautions, including James Cameron.

The Titanic submersible imploded, killing five people on board.

The director best known for Titanic and Avatar, who is a well-established diver and has visited the Titanic wreckage more than 30 times, raised his own concerns, saying he felt the mission was 'too experimental to carry passengers and it needed to be certified'.

He said: "I think it was unconscionable that this group did not go through that rigorous process."

Cameron went on to draw comparison between the Titanic disaster and the Titan implosion, where 'warnings went unheeded'.

"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," he explained.

"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."

OceanGate's submersible would take visitors to the wreckage of the Titanic, which sunk in 1912.

Now, Söhnlein has directly addressed the comments during an interview on Times Radio, saying it's 'impossible for anyone to really speculate from the outside'.

In the diving community, he explained: "There are completely different opinions and views about how to do things, how to design submersibles, how to engineer them, build them, how to operate in the dives."

In another interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Söhnlein pointed out that Cameron wasn't there during the construction of the Titan vessel or through its 'rigorous test programme'.

"This was a 14-year technology-developed program, and it was very robust and certainly led to successful scientific expositions to the Titanic in the last few years," he said.

"I was involved in the early phases of the overall development programme during our predecessor subs to Titan, and I know from firsthand experience that we were extremely committed to safety, and risk mitigation was a key part of the company culture."

James Cameron has criticised OceanGate.

When asked whether he felt greater regulations were needed to prevent any future tragedies, he said: "It’s a matter of what happens when technology innovation outpaces regulations.

"And oftentimes the people developing the technology innovations are in a better position to understand the risks and figure out ways to best minimize them."

Söhnlein served as CEO of OceanGate from 2009 until 2013, when he left the company, remaining as a minority equity owner, handing the title over to Rush.

The Titan expeditions to the Titanic had been running with "citizen explorers" since 2021.

Topics: Titanic, World News, James Cameron