James Cameron says he had the chance to take a dive on OceanGate’s Titanic sub that was exploring the 1912 shipwreck before it tragically imploded earlier this week.
The director of the 1997 drama Titanic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet recently revealed that OceanGate co-founder and CEO Stockton Rush, one of the five passengers who died on the Titan submersible, had invited him to go for a ride before the accident.
“Stockton Rush asked me if I wanted to go out there and dive this season. I wasn’t interested,” Cameron told the Daily Mail in a video interview.
He says he was concerned that the Titan sub was unsafe and wishes he had spoken up about it sooner. Cameron completed 33 visits to the Titanic on other submersibles, according to the BBC.
“OceanGate shouldn’t have been doing what it was doing. I think that’s pretty clear. I wish I had been more vocal about that, but I think I was unaware that they weren’t certified because I wasn’t really studying it, I wasn’t really interested,” Cameron says.
“There was a lot of concern about this outfit and this sub. A lot of concern, even to the extent that — I wasn’t involved in it because I was making Avatar 2 at the time — but a lot of them got together and wrote a letter to OceanGate and said, ‘You have to certify. You cannot take people down. It’s irresponsible and it could lead to catastrophe.”
The New York Times also reported that several alarms were sounded years before the OceanGate tragedy and that several industry professionals had written a letter urging Rush to acknowledge the “experimental” technology’s potential for “catastrophic” outcomes.
James Cameron Says ‘There Was No Question in My Mind’ That Titanic Sub Had Sunk
Cameron also says he knew the sub had sunk on Monday morning, just one day after it had gone missing and three days before its implosion was widely reported in the media.
“Monday morning, when I first found out about the incident, I got on a whole bunch of calls and emails. It’s a small community. Within an hour and a half, I had the following information: they were on descent; they were at 3,500 feet; they had lost comms and tracking, the last one being the critical one, because the transponder that’s used to track a sub during descent and on the bottom is a fully autonomous system. It’s in its own pressure housing and it has its own battery power. So for them to lose comms and tracking at the same time, the sub was gone,” Cameron says.
“There was no question in my mind. For days I tried to run other scenarios that could account for it. I could come up with nothing,” he adds. “So the next thing I did was contacted a few more people, and managed to track down — there are acoustic networks around, some are research, some are intelligence — we got confirmation within an hour that there had been a loud bang at the same time that… comms were lost.”
Cameron adds: “I knew what happened — sub imploded. I sent emails to everybody I know. I said, ‘We’ve lost some friends. The sub has imploded. It’s on the bottom in pieces right now.’ I sent that out Monday morning.”
Watch Cameron’s full interview with the Daily Mail below.
Main Image: A still from Titanic (1997) directed by James Cameron. Credit: Paramount/20th Century Studios