‘Predatory’ Titan sub boss Stockton Rush was ‘hunting for rich clients to endorse doomed


Oceangate CEO Stockton Rush was on a ‘predatory’ mission to find wealthy clients to endorse his submersible’s deep sea trips to the Titanic, industry leaders claimed last night.

Mr Rush perished on board the Titan last Sunday along with his four passengers when the vessel imploded while en route to the Atlantic seabed.

Insiders say the OceanGate boss was having difficulty finding rich customers to make the operation profitable. He also used his powers of persuasion to stop clients being steered away on safety grounds by respected figures within the exploration community, the Times reports.

Patrick Lahey, president of Triton submarines, told the newspaper: ‘He could even convince someone who knew and understood the risks… it was really quite predatory.’

Stockton Rush perished on board the Titan last Sunday along with his four passengers when the vessel imploded while en route to the Atlantic seabed

Stockton Rush perished on board the Titan last Sunday along with his four passengers when the vessel imploded while en route to the Atlantic seabed

Insiders say the OceanGate boss was having difficulty finding rich customers to make the operation profitable

Insiders say the OceanGate boss was having difficulty finding rich customers to make the operation profitable 

Mr Rush speaks to Mr Bloom about taking part in one of his firm's trips to the Titanic wreck

Mr Rush speaks to Mr Bloom about taking part in one of his firm’s trips to the Titanic wreck

Mr Lahey has experience at all levels in the manufacturing of deep sea vessels and was a close friend of Mr Rush’s second mate Paul-Henri ‘PH’ Nargeolet, 73, a skilled mariner and Titanic expert.

Mr Lahey said: ‘It’s terribly sad that PH’s life ended that way but PH knew the risks. I told him in very candid terms why he shouldn’t be out there. He understood. I believe PH thought in some way that by being out there he could help these guys avoid a tragedy but instead he ended up in the middle of one.

‘I told PH that going out there in some way sanctioned this operation. I said: “You’re becoming an ambassador for this thing; people look at you and your record and the life you lead and things you’ve done, which are extraordinary, and in some way you are legitimising what [Oceangate] are doing.”‘

Mr Rush, a self-style innovator, never sought certification or classification for his vessel. He insisted regulators could not keep up with his technology.

His combination of a cylindrical carbon fibre hull with titanium end caps was deemed by industry experts as a dangerous design flaw and it has been suggested as the likely cause of the Titan’s implosion.

Mr Lahey, who has worked for 43 years in the field and whose Titan subs featured in the BBC’s Blue Planet, added: ‘At the very time this monstrosity was being made, I was building the most capable subs of our age.’

A father and son who gave up their two tickets on the doomed Titan submersible say the OceanGate CEO flew on an ‘experimental’ plane to convince them to buy tickets.

Financier Jay Bloom had turned down tickets aboard the submersible for him and his son Sean after fearing they wouldn’t survive the trip.

Speaking to NewsNation, Mr Bloom said that concerns had been raised after Mr Rush flew to Las Vegas to convince him aboard an ‘experimental plane’.

Mr Bloom said: ‘It was very concerning. The major red flag for my son was when Stockton came to see me in Las Vegas in March.

Mr Bloom had been considering going on the doomed submersible but major red flags caused him to back out of the adventure

Mr Bloom had been considering going on the doomed submersible but major red flags caused him to back out of the adventure

Jay Bloom and his son Sean were close to going on the doomed voyage to the Titanic ¿ and were even offered a last-minute discount

Jay Bloom and his son Sean were close to going on the doomed voyage to the Titanic – and were even offered a last-minute discount

The Titan submersible imploded last week with five men on board

The Titan submersible imploded last week with five men on board 

‘He said he was flying in in a two seater experimental plane that he built so he was coming to Las Vegas on an experimental plane that he built to take me on an experimental sub that he built to take me to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean.’ 

Mr Bloom continued: ‘It’s kind of surreal. Every time I see a picture of the people who lost their lives on this tragic event.

‘I look at the picture of the father and son who replaced my son and myself and think how easily but for the grace of God that could have been our picture on the news.

‘When Stockton first approached me with the idea it sounded very sexy, very exciting, a real bucket list kind of item.

‘My son is a big fan of the Titanic, so I thought it would be great for us to do something together. The allure of the proposition is so compelling.

‘My son talked to his friend and they voiced concerns, about the vessel, the marine life, some of the materials that were used in the construction.’

The US Coast Guard is currently investigating the cause of the undersea implosion of the Titan submersible and has not ruled out finding human remains – while also hinting that the probe could lead to criminal charges.

Captain Jason Neubauer, who is chairing the US Coast Guard investigation, made the comments as the search and rescue aspects of the response came to an end. 

British adventurer Hamish Harding and father and son Shahzada and Suleman Dawood were killed on board the submersible, alongside Stockton Rush and French national Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

Salvage operations are continuing and investigators have mapped the accident site, Cpt Neubauer told a press conference in Boston on Sunday. 

The Coast Guard opened what it calls a Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) on Friday, he said, and is working with the FBI to recover evidence.

Cpt Neubauer said the convening of an MBI is the highest level of inquiry conducted by the US Coast Guard. It is unclear how long it will take. The US Coast Guard said it does not charge for search and rescue operations.

This includes a salvage operation at the debris site on the seabed about 1,600 feet (488 metres) from the bow of the Titanic wreck, about 2-1/2 miles (4 km) below the surface.

The findings will be shared with the International Maritime Organization and other groups ‘to help improve the safety framework for submersible operations worldwide,’ Cpt Neubauer said.

Captain Jason Neubauer said the Coast Guard opened what it calls a 'marine board investigation' on Friday and is working with the FBI to recover evidence

Captain Jason Neubauer said the Coast Guard opened what it calls a ‘marine board investigation’ on Friday and is working with the FBI to recover evidence

Oceangate CEO Stockton Rush led the expedition last Sunday, which resulted in the deaths of all five men on board

Oceangate CEO Stockton Rush led the expedition last Sunday, which resulted in the deaths of all five men on board

Commander Paul-Henry Nargeolet, an expert on the Titanic, lost his life in the Titan tragedy

Commander Paul-Henry Nargeolet, an expert on the Titanic, lost his life in the Titan tragedy

Shahzada Dawood, 48, (right) one of Pakistan's richest men, who along with his teenage son Suleman Dawood, 19, (left) died on the Titan

Shahzada Dawood, 48, (right) one of Pakistan’s richest men, who along with his teenage son Suleman Dawood, 19, (left) died on the Titan

Hamish Harding's cousin Kathleen Cosnett wrote: 'It's quite poignant that tomorrow would have been his birthday. His father died in June and my father died in June too'

Hamish Harding’s cousin Kathleen Cosnett wrote: ‘It’s quite poignant that tomorrow would have been his birthday. His father died in June and my father died in June too’

He said the Coast Guard is in touch with the families of the five people killed, and that investigators are ‘taking all precautions on site if we are to encounter any human remains.’

Yesterday the sons of British billionaire Hamish Harding  paid tribute to the ‘best father’ who they say ‘constantly sought to be the best man he could be’.

Rear Admiral John Mauger, of the First Coast Guard District, said: ‘The MBI is also responsible for accountability aspects of the incident and it can make recommendations to the proper authorities to pursue civil or criminal sanctions as necessary.’

The US Coast Guard said on Thursday that all five people aboard the submersible had died after the vessel suffered a ‘catastrophic implosion.’ 

One of Mr Harding’s sons, who was not named on the statement issued through Action Aviation, has hailed the billionaire for being a ‘tenacious, hard working businessman’ and for having ‘inspired me more than anyone will ever know’.

The adventurer and his wife Linda have two sons, Rory and Giles. Mr Harding is also the stepfather to her two children from a previous relationship, Laurena and Brian.



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