Robert Mester declined the invitation from OceanGate Inc. to join the Antipodes voyage, a precursor to the Titan submersible.
The privately operated Titan infamously collapsed while descending to explore the Titanic wreckage. Mester, an experienced deepwater salvage master and former Marine from Washington State, politely refused the expedition.
He explained, “They were using off-the-shelf hardware from Radio Shack to operate inside, and quite frankly we’re talking about an environment that requires robust equipment that has certifications and qualifications that are established by different agencies for man-rated submersibles.” Mester also noted that the equipment inside the submersible did not meet the necessary standards, leading to his decision not to participate.
Mester, who previously declined the opportunity to dive aboard the Titan submersible, later visited it while it was on dry land but still opted against an actual dive. He expressed his reservations, stating, “[The Titan] has a carbon fiber hull, which, how do I put this… it’s not a material that’s ever been successfully used at great depths.”
During the ill-fated descent to the Titanic site, approximately 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland and submerged under 12,500 feet of water, the Titan lost contact with its mothership after about one hour and 45 minutes into the roughly two-hour dive. The submersible carried a crew of two and three paying passengers who had each invested $250,000 for the expedition. The Coast Guard later confirmed that the Titan had likely suffered an implosion due to a “catastrophic failure” of its pressure chamber. Tragically, OceanGate released a statement revealing the loss of all five individuals aboard the Titan.
Mester, speaking from his perspective, believed from the beginning that the Titan would implode. Based on his understanding of the submersible's operational protocols, he speculated that the implosion likely occurred at a depth of around 4,000 to 5,000 feet, coinciding with the loss of contact with the mothership.
A Catastrophic Outcome
Former marine rescue trainer for the Green Berets and current operator of a commercial marine salvage company, Walt “Butch” Hendrick, believes that while some inquiries have been addressed, there are remaining enigmas. Hendrick attributes the implosion to a convergence of factors, including the harsh conditions at great depths and subpar equipment.
“I don’t think the vessel was built all that well, and I don’t think it was maintained all that well,” Hendrick expressed to The Daily Beast.
Hendrick suggests that the catastrophic failure experienced by the Titan could have originated from a minor leak, similar to a leaky boat. However, the critical distinction lies in the inability to address the issue at great depths. Hendrick explains, “If you had a small leak in a boat, you might be able to stick a towel or a rag in it and keep the water from coming in until you got back to shore.”
In the depths of several thousand feet, the shift in pressure exposes the vulnerable point, resulting in an abrupt and devastating outcome. Hendrick elaborates, likening it to a flash fire that engulfs everything nearby, concluding in less than a minute.
He adds, “The pressure change finds the weak spot and BOOM, it’s all over,” Hendrick went on. “You know what a flash fire is? It incinerates everything around, and it’s over in less than a minute. When you get a catastrophic failure that is an implosion, [the Titan passengers] were already dead and they never even knew what happened.”
This article was produced and syndicated by Max My Money.
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