Truth to tell, the Titan resembled nothing so much as a ‘Hold My Beer’ contraption, assembled with parts as good as you get from Home Depot …
…a carbon fiber cylindrical hull, topped and tailed with Titanium hemispheres. Titanium glued to carbon fiber with an epoxy-type resin and fastened with bolts: Just image the iffy quality of joiners that meld dissimilar materials under the pressure of 376 atmospheres! ~ilana
The Titan’s submersible’s CEO, Stockton Rush, RIP, once declared that he didn’t “hire ‘50-year-old white guys’ with military experience to captain his vessels because they weren’t ‘inspirational.’ Mr. Rush, 61, added that … ‘anybody can drive the sub’ with a $30 video game controller.”
“Speaking to CBS News in November,” RT reported, “Rush explained that the vessel was entirely controlled with a generic Bluetooth video game controller, which online sleuths discovered had a dismal reputation for reliability.” To which the rest of us might as well add: So much for the need to build redundancy into such a system.
The vessel reached its destination… in bits, having imploded on June 18: “Wreckage of the Titan submersible was located on the ocean floor approximately 500 meters off the bow of the Titanic,” said the Coast Guard, which has “convened a Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) into the loss of the Titan submersible and the five people on board.”
In his philosophy of whom to hire, Mr. Rush clearly prized the cool quotient over cool-headed competency. The result for him and his passengers was an exceedingly expensive mistake.
OceanGate—which “sounds like a scam waiting to happen,” quipped engineer podcaster “Two Bit da Vinci”—was an outfit out of Everett, Washington. It had been aggressively marketing the Titan as a vessel fit for deep-sea exploration. Yet, rather than use a metal that withstands compression, in order to equip the main composite of their subpar submersible, the anti-white ageist brainiacs of OceanGate chose carbon fiber.
Some reports contend that “NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama helped build the lost Titanic submersible.” Charitably put, it is unclear how involved NASA engineers and the Washington State academic dumbassery were with Titan’s cool kids. Disavowals from NASA, Boeing and the University of Washington notwithstanding; on this count, I intuitively believe Titan CEO Rush. Daily Mail alleges that Rush “had hired interns from Washington State University who … boast[ed that] … a PlayStation remote was used to run the Titan.”
Well might we stare, and stare again, at that last Daily Mail passage. Rush chose to use consumer electronics for a high-reliability application! In all likelihood, however, the Sony PlayStation controller would have been the more reliable node in the Titan’s intern-devised electrical network.
For it is quite clear that systemic, institutional rot now defines American institutions, commercial, civic and state. My 2011 book, Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa, warned, by way of an example, that ridding Eskom, a South African electricity public utility that once helped power the continent, of its best engineers—experienced white men—would in the most literal sense plunge South Africa into darkness. So it has.
What is also clear is that the mission of the white-hating Deep-Sea techies of the Titan is shared by Deep Tech (aka Big Tech) in general: marginalize whites and the attendant issue of competency.
The Coast Guard and the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates civil transportation accidents) are the only two offshoots of the United States federal government your columnist finds inspiring. To distinguish from the federal government; the Coast Guard’s beneficent motto is not “open borders and open-ended regime change, if we don’t like you,” but, “That others may live.”
The beauty of the depiction of that mission in “The Guardian,” a 2006 movie, is that you cannot exaggerate the mettle of a man, a Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer, who “leaps from a helicopter to swim after unlucky souls who have been swept into the cold, churning waters of the Bering Sea.”
Certainly many of the men who rushed to the Titan’s rescue—who’d already mapped the scene and collected the evidence, and who’ll do the forensics on this “crude submersible”—seemed altruistic. They also appeared white and seasoned. These cool heads have deployed phrases such as “misconduct, incompetence, negligence, unskillfulness, or willful violation of law” to describe the impetus of their sweeping inquiry, to encompass other, international maritime authorities and partners.
‘HOLD MY BEER’ CONTRAPTION
Contra Stockton Rush, when engineers in-the-know speak of the Titan; they refer to a whole list of problems. They cite a lack of mechanical tests, an absence of a locator beacon; an indifference to the operational lifetime—namely cumulative, structural fatigue—of such an inherently rickety tube. And as if all of that were not regrettable enough, those problems were compounded by the submersible’s primary composite: carbon fiber. “Exotic in the world of materials,” carbon fiber is unsuited to the task of withstanding immense pressure.
Titan was, essentially, a carbon fiber cylindrical hull, topped and tailed with Titanium hemispheres. Titanium glued to carbon fiber with an epoxy-type resin and fastened with bolts: Just imagine the iffy quality of joiners that meld dissimilar materials under the pressure of 376 atmospheres!
Truth to tell, the Titan resembled nothing so much as a “Hold My Beer” contraption, assembled with parts as good as you get from Home Depot—a “homebuilder” in a basement. Meant to exude coolness, presumably, OceanGate workshop images depict steps descending into what looks like the close confines of your garage.
My source had consulted the best structural engineers he knows. Sources courtesy of Bill Scott, an award-winning journalist and a former flight test engineer, were laconic. Loquacity is the purview of the lippy salesman, not the authentic engineer, whose fidelity is, first, to the immutable laws of physics:
“Carbon fiber works excellently for pressure vessels (airplanes), but does not work for compression vessels (submarines). In the 1990s, I designed a tiny, one-place deep submersible. My hope was that one of my ‘homebuilders’ would find Atlantis. I did not use carbon fiber.” And there is more of the same: “The compression vessels would be built and tested in a factory; the ‘homebuilder’ would do his own equipping and sea excursions.”
Who would have thought it? Breaking free of gravity is a far lesser challenge than withstanding the pressure of water at such depths. Yet the Titan was touted “as built for Titanic depths: 2.4 miles down, where the water pressure is 6,000 pounds per square inch.” That level of pressure, as illustrated by the engineer-podcaster aforementioned, is like having a 797,000-pound footboard on your chest.
THE CONSERVATIVE DISCONNECT
In a burst of Randian emotionalism, Matt Walsh, a conservative and an unsupple mind, rushed to praise adventure tourism in general, and the OceanGate submersible’s Titanic-bound endeavor, in particular. From Walsh came turgid psychoanalysis, empty adulation in the service of mindless market worship.
Walsh scolded any who dared to be cynical of adventure tourism—as I am of the masses who flock to, say, Mount Everest, turning Base Camp into a vast latrine, and making the removal of human waste a major source of employment for local Nepalese and neighboring Chinese. Yes, how ennobling an industry is that for The Other.
Noble spirit? “Bold and daring” on the Everest? No. Crass, termite-dense, despoiling tourism is what we are talking about with Everest nowadays.
Back in 1953, the first people to reach Everest’s summit were a white guy (not yet 50) named Edmund Hillary and his sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay. They indubitably embodied “different, bold, and daring.”
Nevertheless, rather than admit the difference between Hillary and Tenzing, on the one hand, and subpar submersibles on the other hand, the champion scold Matt Walsh puled on tediously about the Titan’s critics:
“These are people whose envy and dissatisfaction with their own mediocre, unimpressive lives have driven them to despise anyone who does anything different, bold, or daring. They take pleasure in failure because they will never have any successes of their own to celebrate.”
The lives of Lilliputians like you and me dwarf compared to the grand life of CEO and Titan captain Stockton Rush, Walsh implied.
Larger than life, Stockton Rush certainly embodied the Woke Persona’s me-me megalomaniacal hubris: He believed he could bend the laws of nature—physics, economics, etc.—to his whimsy.
I’ll say this much: Without those musty, old, white, cool-head engineers, the atmosphere—corporate culture, they call it—at OceanGate would have been of giddy exuberance. So, there’s that.