As hope dwindles for the Titanic exploration submersible, new information about safety concerns has emerged, the Western Journal reported. One passenger on a previous OceanGate Expeditions excursion noted that the required waiver to board "lists one way after another that you could die on the trip."
Earlier this week, five passengers boarded the deep-sea vessel in the hopes of exploring the wreckage of the sunken Titanic in the frigid Atlantic Ocean. Shortly after beginning its descent, the mother ship lost communication with the small vessel.
It is unknown what happened to the craft, but the ocean temperatures coupled with a finite amount of oxygen for its occupants points to a likely catastrophic outcome. However, it may be that the expedition was doomed before it began.
Mike Reiss, who was a passenger on board another OceanGate voyage, explained the pre-journey process. "You sign a massive waiver that lists one way after another that you could die on the trip," he told BBC Breakfast in an interview Tuesday.
"They mention death three times on page one and so it’s never far from your mind. You try to put it out," Reiss added.
Based on his previous experience, Reiss doesn't believe there is much hope for the passengers. "I’m not optimistic just because I know the logistics of it."
The Titanic expedition included passengers British billionaires Jannicke Mikkelsen and Hamish Harding, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, and Pakistani-British businessman Shahzada Dawood along with his son Suleman Dawood. Each paid a handsome sum of $250,000 for the privilege.
Prior to the launch of the vessel, Harding posted on Instagram that weather conditions might derail future expeditions, giving a glimpse into the dangerous nature of the voyage. "I am proud to finally announce that I joined @oceangateexped for their RMS TITANIC Mission as a mission specialist on the sub going down to the Titanic," Harding posted on Saturday.
"Due to the worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years, this mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023. A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow," Harding noted.
"We started steaming from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada yesterday and are planning to start dive operations around 4am tomorrow morning. Until then we have a lot of preparations and briefings to do," he said.
"The team on the sub has a couple of legendary explorers, some of which have done over 30 dives to the RMS Titanic since the 1980s including PH Nargeolet," Harding said. He was referring to pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who is a veteran of the French Navy.
"More expedition updates to follow IF the weather holds!"
It's unclear if the weather has played any part at all in this week's tragedy, but it speaks to the precarious nature of such an undertaking. Moreover, a previous statement from Rush said the company didn't want a "whole bunch of 50-year-old white guys" and may hint at flawed hiring practices for experts.
The potential loss of life is a tragedy even as the passengers and crew agreed to the risks. However, it's likely investigations and potential lawsuits will expose significant negligence and other issues.