James Cameron is outraged. With his passion for the deep sea, the director of Titanic denounced on Thursday the “ignored warnings” concerning the safety of the tourist submersible that imploded near the wreck of the famous ocean liner, killing five people.
The craft was the source of much concern within the small world of underwater exploration, recalled the filmmaker, who visited the wreck on numerous occasions to produce his 1997 global hit, which scooped 11 Oscars.
The diving enthusiast drew parallels between this latest accident and the sinking of the liner in 1912, which claimed the lives of 1,500 people. “I’m struck by the similarity to the Titanic disaster, where the captain was repeatedly warned of the presence of ice ahead of his ship, and yet drove full speed into an ice field on a moonless night,” he remarked on US broadcaster ABC News.
“It’s really surreal”
“That a very similar tragedy, where warnings were ignored” should happen “in the same place, (…) it’s just staggering,” the director of the Avatar film scathingly quipped. It’s truly surreal.” The US Coast Guard announced on Thursday that the OceanGate submersible, missing since Sunday in the North Atlantic, had suffered a “catastrophic implosion” in the ocean depths. The five men on board are now considered dead.
The risk of a submersible imploding is always a “primary” concern when it’s built, recalled James Cameron, who in 2012 became the first person to dive solo into the ocean depths aboard an underwater craft he himself helped design.
“This is the nightmare we’ve all lived with since we entered this field,” he insisted, pointing to the impeccable safety achieved by most players in the world of underwater exploration. But “many people in the community were very concerned about this submersible” from OceanGate, he recalled. “A number of key players in the deep-submergence engineering community even wrote letters to the company saying that what they were doing was too experimental to carry passengers.”