OceanGate Titan – Titanic Sub – Behind the Scenes

OceanGate Titan Sub
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OceanGate Titan – Titanic Sub – Behind the Scenes

This post is going to be about the OceanGate Titan submersible that was destroyed on a voyage to see the Titanic’s wreckage.

Disclaimer: I’m not a submarine expert, hell, I can tell you three to four things about a submarine. And I have never been on a working submarine before.

If you do not follow YouTuber Jake Koehler (DALLMYD), he recently posted a video of his experience of being with OceanGate Expeditions and inside the Titan submarine. Jake and his girlfriend Kyndall were slated to be on Mission III (May 29 – June 6) of the most recent Titan dives to the Titanic. His mission was slated to go a few weeks before Mission IV (June 16 – 24), which is the final and fatal mission of the Titan submarine.

Jake and Kyndall did not make their dive, but they were on the same ship (Polar Prince) at the same time with some of the five people that passed away on the sub.

Jake does mention that on one of its last dives, the sub did get tangled in a ghost net (a fishing net that’s been lost or abandoned in the ocean), and that did some damage to the Titan sub. But he is not stating that it was the cause, he is just reporting on his experience.

I highly recommend that you watch that video as it does a good job of giving an insider view of the Titan submarine and the Oceangate team and operation.

Before I dive into the Titan sub and OceanGate (yeah, I know that was a pun), I want to go over some generalities first in case you have been living under a rock.

A tour (OceanGate) is being offered for $250K that takes you 2.5 miles under the ocean to see the wreckage of the RMS Titanic. OceanGate was using an experimental carbon fiber hull five-person submarine (22′ long x 9.2′ wide and 8.3′ high) called the Titan for these tours. They had done 14 such tours to the bottom of the ocean in the Titan (6 dives in 2021, 7 dives in 2022, 1 in 2023). It supposedly took around two hours to get to the wreckage and up to 14 hours to return to the surface.

The last tours passenger list was:

  • Stockton Rush – the owner of OceanGate and the sub
  • Shahzada Dawood – Pakistani businessman
  • Suleman Dawood – Son (19y) of Shahzada
  • Hamish Marding – British businessman
  • Paul-Henri Nageolet – Deep Sea explorer

About two hours into this ill-fated dive all communications to the Titan were lost (reportedly this wasn’t the first time comms were lost with the sub on previous missions). Now it is important to note that the submarine is not equipped with any type of emergency locator transmitter or a black-box type recorder. It is also important to note that it is not tethered to anything.

However, research (not mine) shows that Oceangate was likely an accident waiting to happen.

Oceangate Submarine Disaster - What REALLY Happened
The Titan Submersible Cataclysm: What We Know So Far (Special)
Titan sub built by 'MacGyver-ing' off-the-shelf parts: journalist

But it is important to note that, this is how experimental devices work. Think of the Wright brothers and their first flying machine. There were no regulations and it was all grassroots. So I’m personally not knocking OceanGate for how they were going through this.

I know that the internet went nuts on the Logitech F710 wireless Gamepad that OceanGate was using to control and navigate the submarine. But it worked, so why change it and why invest thousands of dollars into something that is much more elaborate? In fact, if OceanGate did anything wrong, it is that they took money from people to go on tours to the Titanic, but then again, this is no different than any other start-up, hell this is exactly how Kickstarter.com works. You donate money in exchange for something. In this case, these people were donating money for the chance to go down the Titanic.

It is also important to note that OceanGate had sent out invitations to some highly viewed YouTubers like MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) and DALLMYD (Jake Koehler) to name a few. This was designed to drum up more interest in the Titan and OceanGate. That was actually smart marketing and supposedly MrBeast was invited to go on Mission IV (the ill-fated mission).

One thing I neglected to state about the Logitech Gamepad, was people were actually leaving negative reviews on Amazon for the controller, because of the Titan being lost. I mean, what in the hell did Logitech have to do with it? And why leave bad reviews on Amazon?

Alright, time to talk about what happened and what are they hiding.

Logitech gamepad F710

The internet is a buzz with supposed photos of the Titan wreckage, at the time I wrote this post, they have yet to discover the wreckage of the Titan. These photos of the supposed Titan submarine wreckage are not actually from that wreckage. The first photo shows two shoes and a white part that resembles the bow thruster from Titan. However, that image is actually from 2004 and shows debris from the RMS Titanic, not the Titan

You can even go to the WayBackMachine and see an archived page from the Orange County Register, dated October 2020, showing the exact same image as below. And the image alone from a March 26, 2022 archive.

The photo was actually taken by the Institute for Exploration and Center for Archaeological Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration in 2004.

Fake Image #1
RMS Titanic Wreckage from 2004
Debris from the HMS Titanic, taken from 2004 dive

It appears on Almay.com (in a photo dated 2004) which is a photo reselling website as well as in the YouTube video (Why You Won’t Find Bodies On The Titanic) uploaded November 26, 2017.

Fake Image #2
Fake image 2
Random debris on the ocean floor

The second image is from a video by NOAA dated 10 years ago (April 9, 2013).

Fake Image #3
Titanic debris 3

It also appears on Almay.com (in a photo dated 2004) which is a photo reselling website as well as in the YouTube video (Why You Won’t Find Bodies On The Titanic) uploaded November 26, 2017.

More Fake Images

However, the “Prince of Deepfakes (Parody) released that he faked the images.

The Rest Of The Story

Keep in mind there is a very thin metal shroud around the hull, these are hinged so they can work underneath. The outer shell is fiberglass and the inner is 5″ thick carbon fiber.

I’m not an engineer, but the last time I looked, fiberglass and carbon fiber are just that, fiber, or very thin strips of woven carbon filaments. The way they are designed, they are extremely strong when you are pushing or pulling against the grain of the fibers. But they aren’t going to have great structural strength when molded into shapes, like a circle or a tube. To stay molded into those shapes, there must be some type of high-strength polyester resin used with fiberglass mats (Fiberglass Resin). Without this resin material, you can still form the fiberglass or the carbon fiber into a cylinder shape, but they will retain that shape with any great strength. For carbon fiber, you usually use a resin matrix like epoxy. The resin fixes the carbon fibers in a geometric arrangement, conducts force to the fibers, and stabilizes the fibers while pressure builds.

So regardless of having a 5″ carbon fiber thick hull or a 6″ carbon fiber thick hull, the hull is still going to be subject to outside pressures. Think of it as an aluminum soda can, if you place it on its side and step on it, it will crush. In fact, it crushes very easily. Now, let’s take a can from a can of soup. This can is made of steel and it is thicker than the soda can. Again, step on the can as you did for the soda can. It will crush, but it takes more pressure in order for it to crush, significantly more than the soda can.

If we were to put another soup can, inside another soup can and try out a little experiment again, they would crush, but again, they would take more pressure or weight in order to crush. The same thing applies to the Titan submarine.

Now, add the complexity of using the fiber carbon and resin and the fiberglass and resin. Keep in mind, the strength of the carbon fiber will have little to no effectiveness against crushing. To demonstrate this, let’s take a sheet of printer paper (20lb bond) and roll it into a tube. That tube can be crushed with ease. We will take 10 sheets of the same paper, and roll them into a single tube 10 sheets thick. It crushes but it takes a little more pressure to crush. We will use an empty toilet paper tube to simulate our 10 sheets of paper. We will take some Elmer’s school glue (you know the white glue we all used in school) and slather a generous amount of it on the inside and outside of the toilet paper tube. We want the tube to be completely coated in the glue. Allow the glue to dry for 24 hours and we now have our simulated Titan submarine. The paper in the tube will represent our carbon fiber and the glue the resin. Now we can try to crush the tube and you will see that you can still crush it with your hands, but it is stronger and resisted crushing more than the empty tube.

Notice that the tube will always crush at the same point, the sides, which are opposite of the forces being applied to crush it. This is because it is a tube.

If we double the thickness of the tube and apply more glue, it will still crush in the same locations, just a little more pressure will be required to crush it.

Since you can’t really simulate the crushing pressure 2.5 miles below the ocean, so this is really theoretical. But you can see why it might have imploded.

What You Don’t See
There are a ton of photos online about how the monitors are mounted to brackets that are screwed into the hull and that other things are screwed into the hull and that these screws would cause weaknesses in the hull. And that would be 100% true if that was the actual hull of the submarine, but that is a fiberglass liner that is inside the hull, designed to not only allow mounting of equipment but also allow for wiring and cables to be hidden from view.

So please for the love of god, don’t believe everything that you see online. There are a ton of people who are either clueless or who are looking to stir the pot.

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Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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  • Average Joe

    Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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By Average Joe

Welcome to the Average Joe Weekly blog. This is basically my place on the web where I can help spread some of the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years. I served 10+ years in the Marine Corps on Active Duty, but that was some 25 years ago.

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