A CBS reporter who traveled aboard the currently-missing submersible to view the Titanic wreckage said he was deeply concerned as rescue workers continue to search for the ship.
David Pogue, correspondent for CBS News’ Sunday Morning joined the ship’s crew last year and spoke to the company behind it, OceanGate Expeditions, and its CEO, Stockton Rush. He shared his own fear before boarding the minivan-sized submersible, including while driving got lost underwater for several hours when communication broke down.
“This is going to sound very weird to a lot of people, but a lot of this submersible is made up of improvised off-the-shelf parts,” Pogue said in an interview on CBS Monday. “You control it with an Xbox game controller, for example. Some of the ballast is these abandoned lead pipes from construction sites, and the way you throw them away causes everyone to get to one side of the sub and roll them off a shelf.”
“The most important thing,” he continued, “is the capsule that holds the people and the air, which was developed jointly with NASA and the University of Washington. The part that keeps you alive is rock solid.”
The U.S. Coast Guard said Monday efforts to salvage the boat were ongoing, and officials estimated the ship had between 70 and 96 hours of oxygen. OceanGate said it continues to evaluate “all options to bring the crew back safely” and that the company’s focus is “entirely on the crew members on the submersible and their families.”
Five people were in the ship, which disappeared in an area of sea as deep as 13,000 feet. Private customers on board pay up to US$ 250,000 for a trip to the wreck of the Titanic.
Pogue said he was concerned as the submersible had multiple methods of getting to the surface, before pointing out that he was informed by company founder Stockton Rush during his own expedition that there was a slim possibility that the ship could something could get stuck or jump off Leak.
“What worries me, this thing has seven different ways of returning to the surface… so why isn’t it on the surface?” Pogue said Monday. “There’s no radio or GPS that works underwater, so you’re really on your own with this.”
“It sounds bad,” he added. “If all seven methods they use to surface don’t work, then what’s going on?”