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Titanic director says he ‘knew submersible was destroyed’ four days before debris found

Titanic director James Cameron says he knew the Titan submersible had been destroyed less than 24 hours after the vessel lost contact. 

In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, filmmaker Cameron said he learned of the acoustic findings within a day, and knew what it meant.

“I sent emails to everybody I know and said we’ve lost some friends. The sub had imploded. It’s on the bottom in pieces right now. I sent that out Monday morning,” he recalled.

Tributes paid to Titan passengers – live updates


Cameron said he wished he sounded the alarm on OceanGate’s technology earlier.

The director, who has dived to the Titanic wreck 33 times, said he is part of the small and close-knit submersible community.

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‘Catastrophic loss of pressure chamber’

When he heard that OceanGate was making a deep-sea submersible with a composite carbon fibre and titanium hull, Cameron said he was sceptical.

“I thought it was a horrible idea. I wish I’d spoken up, but I assumed somebody was smarter than me, you know, because I never experimented with that technology,” he said.

The five who were killed mark the first deep-sea fatalities for the industry, Cameron said.

Titan submersible in June 2021. File pic: OceanGate Expeditions via AP.
Titan submersible in June 2021. File pic: OceanGate Expeditions via AP.

The director said the industry standard is to make pressure hulls out of contiguous materials such as steel, titanium, ceramic or acrylic, which are better for conducting tests.

“We celebrate innovation, right? But you shouldn’t be using an experimental vehicle for paying passengers that aren’t themselves deep ocean engineers,” Cameron said.

Director James Cameron, center, poses with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio after winning the awards for Best Dramatic Motion Picture and Best Director for the film
James Cameron posing with Titanic stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio after winning several Golden Globe Awards in 1998

Cameron also noted the similarities between the Titan and the Titanic, saying both tragedies were preceded by unheeded warnings.

“Here we are again,” Cameron said. “And at the same place. Now there’s one wreck lying next to the other wreck for the same damn reason.”

Read more:
What happened to the Titan submersible?
Who were the five men on board Titan?

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Cameron became a deep-sea explorer in the 1990s while researching and making blockbuster Titanic, and is part owner of Triton Submarines, which makes submersibles for research and tourism.

Titanic, the 1997 film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, won 11 Academy Awards and earned more than $2.25bn (£1.94bn) worldwide.


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