Renowned filmmaker and explorer James Cameron has expressed his deep concern regarding the recent loss of the Titan submarine, which was on a mission to explore the historic shipwreck of the Titanic. In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Cameron drew parallels between the tragic incidents of the Titanic disaster and the ill-fated fate of the Titan submarine.
Cameron highlighted that many individuals within the deep-submergence engineering community had reservations about the safety of the Titan submarine. He revealed that influential figures in the field had even written letters to the company, cautioning against the experimental nature of the submarine’s operations and emphasizing the need for proper certification. The filmmaker drew a striking comparison to the Titanic disaster, where the captain had been repeatedly warned about ice ahead but failed to heed the warnings, resulting in a catastrophic collision and the loss of numerous lives.
The director stated, “Many people in the [deep-submergence engineering] community were very concerned about this sub, and a number of, you know, of the top players in the community even wrote letters to the company, saying that what they were doing was too experimental to carry passengers and needed to be certified and so on.” Cameron continued forth to highlight, “I’m struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself, where the captain was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship and yet he steamed at full speed into an ice field on a moonless night. And many people died as a result.”
The discovery of a debris field near the Titanic wreckage, coupled with reports of a catastrophic explosion and the fear that all five crew members aboard the Titan submarine have perished, has deeply affected Cameron. The Oscar-winning director added, “And for a very similar tragedy, where warnings went unheeded to take place at the same exact site, with all the diving that’s going on all around the world. I think it’s just astonishing. It’s really quite surreal.”
Having designed and built submarines capable of reaching the deepest parts of the ocean, Cameron addressed concerns raised by experts about the safety of the 21-foot Titan submarine. He stressed that as a submarine designer himself, he understood the engineering challenges associated with such vehicles and the criticality of adhering to stringent safety protocols. Cameron asserted that deep submergence diving has evolved into a mature art, emphasizing the progress made since the early 1960s when accidents were more frequent, but fatalities were absent until this tragic incident.
Speaking about the same, he said, “As a submersible designer myself, I designed and built us up to go to the deepest place in the ocean, three times deeper than Titanic. So I understand the engineering problems associated with building this type of vehicle and all the safety protocols that you have to go through. And I think [it] is absolutely critical to really get the take-home message from our effort … [that] deep submergence diving is a mature art. From the early ’60s, [when] there were a few accidents, nobody was killed in the deep submergence until now. [That’s] more time than between Kitty Hawk and the flight of the first 747.”
Cameron also revealed that he spent a significant amount of time exploring the Titanic wreckage, surpassing the duration the original captain spent on the ship during its ill-fated voyage. The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 remains one of the most notorious maritime disasters, claiming the lives of approximately 1,500 passengers and crew. The discovery of the wreckage in 1985 served as a profound inspiration for Cameron, a passionate ocean diver, leading him to create the blockbuster film Titanic. The Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet starrer went on to win 11 Oscars and became a global phenomenon, grossing over $2.26 billion worldwide and holding the title of the highest-grossing film for a period of time.
Reflecting on his motivation to make Titanic, Cameron previously stated in an interview with Playboy that his primary objective was to dive to the shipwreck, rather than produce a movie. He likened the Titanic to the Mount Everest of shipwrecks and desired to explore it meticulously. Learning that other individuals had dived to the Titanic to create an IMAX documentary, Cameron decided to make a Hollywood film that would finance his expedition and allow him to undertake a similar venture. His initial experience ignited a passion within him, driving him to continue exploring the depths of the ocean.
In the interview, Cameron stated, “I made Titanic because I wanted to dive to the shipwreck, not because I particularly wanted to make the movie. The Titanic was the Mount Everest of shipwrecks, and as a diver, I wanted to do it right. When I learned some other guys had dived to the Titanic to make an IMAX movie, I said, ‘I’ll make a Hollywood movie to pay for an expedition and do the same thing.’ I loved that first taste, and I wanted more.”
Cameron’s concerns about the Titan submarine tragedy and his reflections on the Titanic disaster underline the significance of prioritising safety and adhering to rigorous protocols when undertaking deep-sea exploration. As a filmmaker and a prominent figure in the diving community, Cameron’s insights shed light on the risks involved in such endeavours and serve as a reminder of the historical significance and profound impact of the Titanic tragedy.
‘Titanic’ director James Cameron on the ‘catastrophic implosion’ of Titan submersible: “I’m struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself, where the captain was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship and yet he steamed at full speed into an ice field.” pic.twitter.com/vO8JkCXS5f
— ABC News (@ABC) June 22, 2023
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