The owner and pilot of the Titan submersible that imploded in the Atlantic Ocean this week, sparking a massive search and rescue mission, attempted to sell two tickets to the trip at a significantly-reduced price and dismissed safety concerns raised by the prospective customer, leaked text messages have shown. Las Vegas financier Jay Bloom, who was considering the underwater voyage for him and his son, was offered a “last minute price” of £120,000 per person, a discount on the usual £195,000 fee, by Stockton Rush.
When Mr Bloom hesitated, he was assured by Mr Rush that a mission on the Titan submersible was “safer than crossing the street”.
Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his son Suleman, who was just 19, ended up replacing Mr Bloom and his own son, and the financier issued a statement expressing his condolences to their family, as well as Mr Rush’s.
In a Facebook post he said: “I expressed safety concerns and Stockton told me: ‘While there’s obviously risk – it’s way safer than flying in a helicopter or even scuba diving’.
“He was absolutely convinced that it was safer than crossing the street. I am sure he really believed what he was saying. But he was very wrong.”
In February this year Stockton Rush asked Mr Bloom and his son Sean to go on the dive to Titanic in May. Both May dives were postponed due to weather and the dive got delayed until June 18, the date of the ill-fated trip.
Mr Bloom said: “I told him that due to scheduling we couldn’t go until next year. Our seats went to Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son, Suleman Dawood, two of the other three who lost their lives on this excursion, the fifth being Hamish Harding.
“RIP Stockton and crew. As for Sean and I… we are going to take a minute to stop and smell the roses. Tomorrow is never promised. Make the most of today.”
Texts between Mr Rush had repeatedly tried to reassure Mr Bloom about the safety of the Titan and heading to the Titanic’s wreck.
He said his son was very worried about the risks after speaking with a friend. Mr Rush said: “I’m happy to have a video call with him. Curious what the uninformed would say the danger is and whether it’s real or imagined.”
They discussed how the hull would deal with pressure, or even if it came into contact with a whale or squid.
Mr Rush said: ‘While there’s obviously risk it’s way safer than flying in a helicopter or even scuba diving, There hasn’t even been an injury in 35 years in non-military subs’.
According to court documents, safety concerns had previously been raised about the Titan submersible by a former employee of OceanGate.
David Lochridge, OceanGate’s former director of marine operations, claimed wrongful dismissal after flagging worries about the company’s alleged “refusal to conduct critical, non-destructive testing of the experimental design”.
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