A former OceanGate staffer fired after airing concerns about the safety of the doomed Titan submarine emailed an associate saying he was worried the firm’s CEO would get himself and others killed in a ‘quest to boost his ego’.
David Lochridge, formerly OceanGate’s director of marine operations who worked at the company between 2015 and 2018, was fired after raising concerns about the safety of the Titan for much of its building process.
Those warnings were allegedly delivered from the factory floor during the latter half of 2017, but were constantly dismissed as part of a push to move on from the building to begin testing.
It’s now emerged that Lochridge emailed project associate Rob McCallum – who also left OceanGate over safety concerns – shortly after he was fired in 2018, to say he was worried CEO Stockton Rush would end up dead on the submersible.
‘I don’t want to be seen as a Tattle tale but I’m so worried he kills himself and others in the quest to boost his ego,’ Lochridge wrote about Rush, The New Yorker claims.
Ex-OceanGate staffer David Lochridge emailed another ex-associate in 2018 to warn about the Titan sub’s failings – saying he was worried the firm’s late CEO would get himself and others killed, in what he billed as a ‘quest to boost his ego’
At the time, Lochridge (not pictured) was OceanGate’s director of marine operations, and was perhaps the only experienced pilot at the company. He had already been raising concerns about the structural integrity of the vessel – seen here in pieces on June 28 – for much of 2017
The intrepid engineer reportedly continued: ‘I would consider myself pretty ballsy when it comes to doing things that are dangerous, but that sub is an accident waiting to happen.’
‘There’s no way on earth you could have paid me to dive the thing.’
Rush – a self-professed ‘innovator’ who sought to push the boundaries on passenger diving – was one of five died in what proved to be the Titan’s final voyage, after its pressure chamber imploded near the 3800meter depths where the Titanic rests.
Days before sending the email, DailyMail.com has already reported, Lochridge inspected every important facet of the sub – which he was already extremely familiar with – and quickly found a litany of red flags.
For one, court documents from a since settled lawsuit filed by the nixed OceanGate staffer show, Lochridge found glue was coming away at the seams of the vehicle’s ballast bags, and that improperly placed mounting bolts threatened to cause a rupture.
Moreover, the veteran diver also found issues with the sub’s ceiling faces, noting they had visible plunge holes, while the Titan itself boasted grooves that deviated from standard parameters.
There were also snagging hazards, the suit notes, with important components allegedly attached with zip-ties.
Also concerning Lochridge was the presence of flammable flooring, along with interior vinyl wrapping he said would regularly emit highly toxic gases upon ignition.
That said, within this laundry list of prospective safety hazards, the primary concern for Lochridge – and the part of the sub that would ultimately fail during its dive last month – was the carbon fiber core, responsible for keeping passengers alive at the icy depths where the Titanic wreckage resides.
David Lochridge, who was Director of Marine operations for the Titan project, was fired after meetings with OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who is on board the missing submersible
Days before sending the email, DailyMail.com has already reported, Lochridge inspected every important facet of the sub – which he was already For one, extremely familiar with – and found a litany of red flags, such as important components allegedly attached with zip-ties
The intrepid engineer reportedly called Rush’s carbon fiber creation ‘an accident waiting to happen.’ He wrote to a fellow staffer who also left OceanGate due to Titan-related concerns: ‘There’s no way on earth you could have paid me to dive the thing’
There, the external water pressure is roughly 6,000 pounds per square inch, pressure that would be felt from every angle around the vessel’s all-important hull.
Concerning Lochridge was the fact the pressure chamber was made of carbon fiber – a capricious material not used in any other deep ocean submersible, making it largely untested.
Several experts have since slammed Rush’s use of the material – which, similar to several strands of rope wrapped around each other, is strong under tension but more tenuous under compression.
Perhaps most troubling, though, is OceanGate’s alleged decision to not seek certification for the new technology, and the lack of longterm deepwater testing enacted before it ultimately imploded.
According to Lochridge’s lawsuit, this decision was ultimately up to Rush, along with Tony Nissen, the Washington-based firm’s director of engineering.
In it, Lochridge claimed the pair maintained that stance in January 2018 after he handed them the aforementioned engineering report, which, along with the previously laid issues, saw the expert find literal ‘holes’ in a section of the sub’s hull
Lochridge thus argued the Titan needed more testing – saying that and passengers may be endangered when it reached ‘extreme depths,’ according to the lawsuit filed later that year in Seattle District Court.
‘Verbal communication of the key items I have addressed in my attached document have been dismissed on several occasions, so I feel now I must make this report so there is an official record in place,’ Lochridge reportedly wrote of his refusal to sign off on the sub.
‘Until suitable corrective actions are in place and closed out, Cyclops 2 (Titan) should not be manned during any of the upcoming trials.’
As a result, The New Yorker report claims, Rush was furious – and fired Lochridge almost on the spot.
The CEO also called a meeting that afternoon, and over the course of the day him and other OceanGate leadership insisted that no hull testing was necessary.
In its place, brass touted an acoustic monitoring system that would detect fraying fibers. At the time, the firm said the system would serve enough to alert the pilot to the possibility of catastrophic failure ‘with enough time to arrest the descent and safely return to surface.’
The two parties would eventually become embroiled in bitter litigation, with the case eventually settled on undisclosed terms several months after it was filed.
In response to the wrongful death suit, OceanGate sued Lochridge, accusing him of breaching a non-disclosure agreement, and filed a counterclaim alleging that he was wrongfully fired for raising questions about testing and safety.
Lochridge said in the counterclaim that OceanGate, which charges up to $250,000 for a seat on the vessel, would ‘subject passengers to potential extreme danger in an experimental submersible’. He also said Titan was not equipped to reach depths of around 13,123 feet, where the Titanic wreck rests.
OceanGate CEO and founder Rush (pictured left) sits alongside submersible pilot Randy Holt in the company’s submersible, ‘Antipodesin June 28, 2013. A self-professed rule breaker, Rush’s decisions during the construction of the Titan sub are now coming into question
A file photo of the Titan submersible before its doomed voyage to the Titanic wreck last month
In a blog post titled ‘Why Isn’t Titan Classed?’, OceanGate offered its stance on neglecting to seek classification, suggesting the process would simply take too long.
The post said: ‘While classing agencies are willing to pursue the certification of new and innovative designs and ideas, they often have a multi-year approval cycle due to a lack of pre-existing standards…
‘Bringing an outside entity up to speed on every innovation before it is put into real-world testing is anathema to rapid innovation.’
The company said its ‘innovations’ included a real-time (RTM) hull health monitoring system which is ‘not currently covered by any classing agency’.
OceanGate suggested its own in-house safety protocols were sufficient. The blog concluded that ‘by itself, classing is not sufficient to ensure safety’.
Lochridge, whose role included overseeing safety on the Titan project, had urged OceanGate to seek classification several years ago, before he was sacked in a disagreement about safety checks on the craft.
He also wanted the company to carry out a scan of Titan’s hull to ‘detect potential flaws’ rather than ‘relying on acoustic monitoring’ – which would only detect an issue ‘milliseconds before an implosion’.
The revelation is significant because rescuers do not know whether Titan is still at the bottom of the ocean – triggering fears it could have ‘imploded’ under extreme pressure.
In a court document filed in 2018, lawyers for the company said Lochridge’s employment was terminated because he ‘could not accept’ their research and plans, including safety protocols.
OceanGate also claimed that Lochridge ‘desired to be fired’ and had shared confidential information with others and wiped a company hard drive. The company said he ‘refused to accept the voracity of information’ about safety from Titan’s lead engineer.
Lochridge had relocated from the UK to Washington to work on the development of the Titan – which was previously called Cyclops 2.
A former Royal Navy marine engineer and ship’s diver, he was described by OceanGate as an ‘expert in the field of submarine operations and rescue’.
Legal filings obtained by DaiyMail.com show that he wrote a report in 2018 which was critical of the company’s research and development process for the vessel.
Lochridge also ‘strongly encouraged that OceanGate utilize a classification agency, such as the American Bureau of Shipping, to inspect and certify the Titan.’
The suit states that ‘OceanGate refused both requests, and stated it was unwilling to pay for a classification agency to inspect its experimental design.’
Lochridge ‘disagreed with OceanGate’s position to dive the submersible without any non-destructive testing to prove its integrity, and to subject passengers to potential extreme danger in an experimental submersible.’
Lochridge stated he could not accept OceanGate’s research and development plans. Based on Lochridge’s position, OceanGate terminated his employment, the legal filings reveal.
Pictured: File photo of inside the OceanGate Expeditions sub which is currently missing with five people on board
Among those who died in the ill-fated expedition last month was British billionaire Hamish Harding (pictured), CEO of Action Aviation in Dubai
Shahzada Dawood, 48, (pictured with his wife Christine) a Pakastani businesseman, and his son Sulaiman Dawood, 19, also died after the Titan’s carbon fiber pressure chamber imploded on itself in April
French Navy veteran Paul Henry Nargeolet (left) was in the sub along with Stockton Rush (right), CEO of the OceanGate Expeditions
The suit also claims Rush had asked Lochridge to assess the safety risks because he was the ‘best man for the job’ – though Lochridge was still ‘ignored’ when trying to raise verbal concerns over the safety and quality control of Titan.
In his report he said: ‘With Cyclops 2 (Titan) being handed off from Engineering to Operations in the coming weeks, now is the time to properly address items that may pose a safety risk to personnel.
‘Verbal communication of the key items I have addressed in my attached document have been dismissed on several occasions, so I feel now I must make this report so there is an official record in place.’
OceanGate did not comment on the Lochridge lawsuit, or its refusal to seek classification, when approached by DailyMail.com.
Before Rush and the other four victims were officially deemed dead, the company said its ‘entire focus is on the wellbeing of the [Titan] crew’.
I am Rakesh Sharma, I associated with Elite News as an Editor, since 2021. I take care of all the news operations like content, budget, hiring and policy making.