James Cameron, who directed the hit 1997 film “Titanic” and has himself made 33 dives to the wreckage, offered his thoughts Thursday after it was announced that a missing Titanic-bound submersible suffered a “catastrophic implosion,” killing all five people on board.
“I think there’s a great, almost surreal irony here, which is Titanic sank because the captain took it full steam into an ice field at night, on a moonless night with very poor visibility after he had been repeatedly warned,” Cameron told CNN’s Andersoon Cooper while appearing on AC360 Thursday.
Cameron added he thinks “we’re also seeing a parallel here with unheeded warnings about a sub that was not certified.”
A desperate search and rescue mission had been underway since the submersible went missing Sunday.
US Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Mauger said Thursday that a remotely operated vehicle had located the tail cone of the Titan submersible about 1,600 feet away from the bow of the shipwreck.
OceanGate, the company behind the trek, released a statement Thursday stating it believes the five passengers have “sadly been lost.”
“We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost,” the company said in a statement. “These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans. Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time. We grieve the loss of life and joy they brought to everyone they knew.”
Ironically Rush’s wife, Wendy Rush, is a descendant of retailing magnate Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida, who were part of the group of more than 1500 people who died during the Titanic’s maiden voyage, according to New York Times archive records.
Cameron is an experienced deep sea explorer who in 2012 dove to the Mariana Trench, considered one of the deepest spots in the Earth’s oceans at almost seven miles below the surface, in a 24-foot submersible vehicle he designed called the Deepsea Challenger.
Speaking of his deep-sea dives to the site of the Titanic, Cameron told Cooper, “You feel the presence of the tragedy and I think that’s the lure. I think that’s why people want to go and experience it for themselves. To feel, to remember history.”
He added that while he thinks it’s important to remember that history, “here’s a case starkly, today, where the collective, we didn’t remember the lesson of Titanic – these guys at OceanGate didn’t.”
“I just think it’s heartbreaking that it was so preventable,” he said.
In 2012, he talked to the New York Times about the dangers of deep sea exploration.
“You’re going into one of the most unforgiving places on earth,” he said then. “It’s not like you can call up AAA to come get you.”