CBS Reporter Recalls Another Time The Same Titanic-Viewing Sub Went Missing

David Pogue also detailed some of the seven surfacing methods the craft is equipped with, including one that works even if passengers are unconscious.

A CBS reporter who traveled aboard the submersible currently missing on an expedition to see the wreckage of the Titanic said he is deeply worried as rescue officials continue to search for the craft.

“Something probably catastrophic happened to the whole thing,” David Pogue, a science correspondent for CBS News, told “CBS Mornings” Tuesday.

Pogue joined the vessel’s crew on a voyage last year and spoke with the man behind it, OceanGate Expeditions CEO Stockton Rush, who showed off the simple interior of the tiny submersible tube. Just one button featured inside it.

“He did say safety is relative,” Pogue recalled of Rush. “If you want to live in perfect safety, don’t get out of bed.”

Pogue recounted his own anxiety before getting inside the minivan-sized craft, which is sealed with 17 bolts by an outside crew and cannot be opened from the inside.

Contact with the submersible is difficult as GPS does not work deep underwater. There is also no physical link between the vessel and the ship on the surface tending to it.

While Pogue was still aboard the surface vessel, a technical mishap led to the submersible getting lost underwater for several hours with passengers inside. The reporter offered a bit more detail about the incident on Twitter, writing Tuesday that adding an emergency beacon “was discussed” after the incident.

“This is going to sound very janky to a lot of people, but a lot of this submersible is made of off-the-shelf, improvised parts,” Pogue said in a Monday interview with CBS. “For example, you control it with an Xbox game controller. Some of the ballasts are these abandoned lead pipes from construction sites, and the way you ditch them is everybody gets to one side of the sub and they roll off a shelf.”

The submersible has seven total ways to get to the surface, he said.

“Several of them work even if there’s no electricity. One of them works even if everybody’s passed out — it’s a time-released sandbag that after 14 hours drops off by itself,” Pogue said.

Most importantly, he noted, “the capsule that contains the people and the air, that was co-designed with NASA, the University of Washington. The part that keeps you alive is rock solid.”

So why hasn’t anybody found it bobbing at the surface?

“That is the question that makes my blood run cold,” Pogue told CBS on Tuesday.

The absence of any sign of the vessel “could only mean two things.”

“Either it got snagged by something on the bottom of the sea, which is pretty unlikely — there’s nothing there but the Titanic — or there was a breach in the hull and it instantly imploded,” he said.

The U.S. Coast Guard said early Tuesday afternoon that efforts to recover the craft were ongoing, and officials estimated the vessel had about 40 hours of oxygen left.

The surface ship monitoring the vessel lost contact with it after 105 minutes, according to the Coast Guard.

Five people were in the vessel, which disappeared in an area of the ocean with depths up to 13,000 feet. Private customers aboard pay up to $250,000 to travel to the Titanic’s wreckage.

OceanGate said in a statement that it is continuing to explore “all options to bring the crew back safely” and that the company’s “entire focus is on the crew members in the submersible and their families.”

On social media, a clip of Pogue reading an OceanGate waiver describing the vessel as an “experimental” one that has “not been approved or certified by any regulatory body, and could result in physical injury, disability, emotional trauma or death” has gone viral.

“Where do I sign?” he jokes in the clip.

Hear more about Pogue’s experience on his podcast, “Unsung Science.”


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