A British millionaire who had joined up to join the missing tourists in the Atlantic Ocean ultimately decided not to join the expedition because he felt apprehensive about the submarine.
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.
However, he added that he felt apprehensive about the endeavor. The caliber of the technology and materials used by OceanGate Expeditions, the company offering deep-sea visits to the Titanic’s debris, caused him to withdraw.
Brown had initially paid a deposit for the mission to explore the famous debris of the HMS Titanic alongside his companion Hamish Harding.
One of his concerns was that the submersible was presumably being designed with controls “based on computer game-style controllers.”
The submarine that was eventually constructed has vanished off the coast of Newfoundland, reported the Associated Press on Monday.
Rescue operations have been initiated to search for the ship and its five passengers that have gone missing. Thursday will mark the end of the submersible’s oxygen supply, according to experts.
Rescue personnel reported hearing sounds in the area being searched, but the vessel has not yet 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.
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. 2/2 #Titanic
— USCGNortheast (@USCGNortheast) June 21, 2023
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 in isolation. Others have also expressed concerns about the submersible’s safety. Last year, for instance, a journalist from CBS had a terrifying experience inside the missing Titanic submersible.
Chris Brown, a friend of British billionaire Hamish Harding, has told Sky News that he is hoping for a miracle as the search for the missing Titan submersible continues.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) June 21, 2023
David Pogue, a journalist, rode the machine in 2022 and emerged fearful of the future. Indeed, his tour was ultimately “lost.”
“We were lost for two-and-a-half hours,” Pogue said.
Pogue is not the only one feeling uneasy about the undertaking. Passenger Mike Reiss observed that even the release form served as a warning, as the word “death” appeared numerous times 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 companion, Harding has been reported missing along with OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, French maritime expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, British-Pakistani industrialist 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.”