OceanGate, the company behind the Titan submersible that is missing in the Atlantic Ocean, was accused by a contractor in 2018 of not addressing concerns over the sub's safety designs.
The safety concerns were submitted in a wrongful termination countersuit filed in federal court. The lawsuits were filed before Titan was completed and the case was settled out of court.
The wrongful termination suit was in response to a breach of contract suit filed by OceanGate against the contractor.
The lawsuit says David Lochridge was hired to carry out a quality inspection on the submersible. He expressed verbal concerns over the "safety and quality control issues regarding the Titan to OceanGate executive management," the lawsuit states. The plaintiffs allege that the communications were ignored.
The lawsuit says Lochridge expressed concern over the lack of non-destructive testing on the hull of the sub. The lawsuit says Lockridge was told that no form of equipment exists to perform a test, and OceanGate would rely on an acoustic monitoring system.
Instead of addressing Lochridge's concerns over the sub's safety, he was fired and given 10 minutes to leave, the lawsuit states.
"Lochridge repeatedly urged OceanGate to perform non-destructive testing and to use a classification agency to inspect the experimental Titan. OceanGate refused both requests, and stated it was unwilling to pay for a classification agency to inspect its experimental design," the lawsuit alleges.
Titan was only rated to carry passengers to depths of 1,300 meters, not 4,000 meters like promised, the suit states. In order to reach the Titanic shipwreck, a submersible would have to go over 3,800 meters below the ocean surface.
The final design was completed several years later at a NASA facility in Alabama. According to OceanGate, Titan is the first deep-sea submersible to be built using carbon fiber.
The lawsuit noted "the constant pressure cycling weakens existing flaws resulting in large tears of the carbon."
OceanGate says its design means it is "lighter, more spacious and more comfortable than any other deep-diving submersible exploring the ocean today."
At the depth the wreckage of the Titanic is located, the water would exert over 5,500 pounds of pressure per square inch (PSI).
NASA said it has been testing super lightweight aerospace composites for rockets and spacecraft to reduce mass. Decreasing mass reduces the amount of fuel needed to propel a craft to space. The partnership with OceanGate, NASA said, is beneficial in its goal of exploring deep space.
The Titan sub has been used a number of times since its completion in 2021. It is unclear what caused the vessel to go missing. The Coast Guard has been conducting a search in the area around where the Titanic is located at the bottom of the ocean.
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