A British millionaire who had initially signed up to join the sightseers who are now missing in the Atlantic Ocean, had a very uneasy feeling about the submarine and fatefully decided not to join the expedition.
Chris Brown, 61, told the media, “I was one of the first people to sign up for this trip with OceanGate while the submersible was being developed,” the U.S. Sun reported.
But he added that he got an uneasy feeling about the project. He dropped out because he was concerned by the quality of technology and materials used by OceanGate Expeditions, the company offering deep-sea visits to the wreck of the Titanic
Brown had originally paid his deposit for the mission to visit the famed wreck of the HMS Titanic along with his friend, Hamish Harding.
One of his concerns was that the submersible was apparently being designed with controls “based on computer game-style controllers.”
The submarine that was eventually built has now gone missing off the coast of Newfoundland, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
Rescue operations have been mounted to search for the missing ship and its five passengers. Experts stated that the submersible’s air supply will be depleted by Thursday.
Rescue workers said that noises have been heard in the area being searched, but so far, the vessel itself has not been located.
“Canadian P-3 aircraft detected underwater noises in the search area. As a result, ROV operations were relocated in an attempt to explore the origin of the noises,” the First Coast Guard District said in a Twitter post on Wednesday. ROV is the acronym for “remotely operated vehicle.”
“Those ROV searches have yielded negative results but continue. Additionally, the data from the P-3 aircraft has been shared with our U.S. Navy experts for further analysis which will be considered in future search plans,” the Coast Guard added.
The troubles may not seem surprising to Brown.
“I found out they used old scaffolding poles for the sub’s ballast — and its controls were based on computer game-style controllers,” he told the paper. “If you’re trying to build your own submarine you could probably use old scaffold poles. But this was a commercial craft.”
“Eventually I emailed them and said, ‘I’m no longer able to go on this thing.’ I asked for a refund after being less than convinced,” he admitted.
“We decided the risks were too high in this instance, even though I’m not one to shy away from risk.”
Brown is not alone. Others have also worried about the safety of the submersible. A CBS journalist, for instance, had a harrowing experience inside the missing Titanic submersible just last year.
In 2022, journalist David Pogue took a spin on the machine and came away afraid for the future. Indeed, his tour ended up “lost.”
“We were lost for two-and-a-half hours,” Pogue said.
Pogue is not the only one to feel shaky over the whole venture. Passenger Mike Reiss noted that even the release form was a warning since it directly mentioned the word “death” repeatedly throughout the document.
“They mention death three times on page one and so it’s never far from your mind. You try to put it out,” he said.
“I’m not optimistic just because I know the logistics of it,” he added about the submersible.
Unfortunately for Brown’s friend, Harding went ahead of the trip and is now among the missing, along with OceanGate chief executive Stockton Rush, French maritime expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, and Dawood’s son, Suleman.
“I feel really upset about Hamish — he’s an extremely easy guy to get along with,” Brown said of his friend.
“One thing’s for certain, Hamish isn’t the sort of fellow to panic. He’ll be extremely calm and will be processing plans, schemes and ideas through his enormous brain,” Brown concluded. “I fully expect he’ll be a calming influence on the others in the sub, and will be giving them hope.”