The U.S. Coast Guard has launched an investigation into the “catastrophic implosion” of the privately-owned underwater vessel TITAN. The vessel was destroyed while en route to the wreckage site of the TITANTIC, resulting in the tragic loss of all five individuals on board.
On Sunday, June 18, 2023, the TITAN lost contact with the crew aboard the POLAR PRINCE research vessel after approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. Following an exhaustive search and rescue operation, the remains of the TITAN submersible were discovered on the ocean floor, about 500 meters away from the bow of the TITANTIC. The loss of the TITAN submersible and its five occupants has prompted the U.S. Coast Guard to assemble a Marine Board of Investigation (MBI).
The MBI is the highest level of investigation within the U.S. Coast Guard. Once the investigation is finalized, the Board will compile a report containing evidence, established facts, conclusions, and recommendations. Captain Jason Neubauer has served as the chief of the Office of Investigations & Analysis at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters since July 2014. He is responsible for overseeing marine casualty investigations, suspension and revocation cases involving credentialed mariners, violation investigations and data analysis for the U.S. Coast Guard’s prevention operations.
The MBI will work to determine:
• The cause of the casualty, including the cause of any death.
• Whether an act of misconduct, incompetence, negligence, unskillfulness, or willful violation of law committed by any individual licensed, certificated, or documented has contributed to the cause of the casualty, or to a death involved in the casualty, so that appropriate remedial action may be taken.
• Whether an act of misconduct, incompetence, negligence, unskillfulness, or willful violation of law committed by any person, including an officer, employee, or member of the Coast Guard, contributed to the cause of the casualty, or to a death involved in the casualty.
• Whether there is evidence that an act subjecting the offender to a civil penalty under that laws of the United States has been committed, so that appropriate action may be undertaken to collect a penalty.
• Whether there is evidence that a criminal act under the laws of the United States has been committed, so that the matter may be referred to appropriate authorities for prosecution.
• Whether there is need for new laws or regulations, or amendment or repeal of existing laws or regulations, to prevent the recurrence of the casualty.
The investigation is being conducted with the participation of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Canadian Transportation Safety Board, the French Marine Casualties Investigation Board, and the United Kingdom Marine Accident Investigation Branch.
On board the TITAN were OceanGate founder and CEO, Stockton Rush, along with Hamish Harding, a British businessman, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French researcher, and Shahzada Dawood, a British-Pakistani businessman, accompanied by his 19-year-old son, Suleman Dawood.
In 2018, a lawsuit was filed claiming that OceanGate terminated an employee who voiced concerns about the vessels capability to withstand the immense pressure at depths of 4,000 meters (approximately 13,000 feet), which is where the wreckage of the TITANTIC lies. Specifically, a former director of marine operations at OceanGate raised the alarm over the possibility of a critical component failing with only milliseconds of warning before an implosion occurred. An out-of-court settlement was reached.
The OceanGate Expeditions Corporation is located in Everett, Washington. OceanGate is run under the entity Argus Expeditions, LTD, which is licensed in the Bahamas.
“There are numerous instances where families may have legitimate claims against OceanGate Expeditions and Argus Expeditions, Ltd,” said Joe Stacey, a maritime lawyer with Stacey and Jacobsen, PLLC.
The Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC team understands how maritime disasters happen and how they could have been prevented. They are dedicated to getting fair compensation for clients. If you have lost a loved one in a maritime accident, call today for a free consultation about your case.