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HomeOpinionColumnWhat does losing the Titan submersible mean for extreme tourism?

What does losing the Titan submersible mean for extreme tourism?

By: Keith Kappes
Carter County Times

Stockton Rush was the CEO of OceanGate, the company whose submersible carried him and four other passengers to a terrifying death last week in the deep, cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

The fare for the trip to visit the rusting hulk of the Titanic on the ocean floor was a cool $250,000 per person but Rush no doubt received the employee discount.

It is not my intent to be flippant about the horrible deaths of five human beings but surely someone must speak out about the senseless loss of these super rich folks who like to be called “wealthy adventurers”.

Is any adrenalin rush (no pun intended) worth risking your life on a brief but no doubt thrilling visit to a treacherous, barely explored part of the world? And in an experimental vehicle whose safety was questioned five years ago?

Preferring to be described as “adventure tourism“, that industry was anticipating growth from a measly $322 billion last year to more than $1 trillion (with a T) this year, according to Grand View Research.

The most popular destinations are Mt. Everest, the South Pole, outer space and, until last week, probably the Titanic. As you ponder those names, be advised that 12 intrepid souls already have died this year on Mt. Everest and five of their bodies have yet to be recovered.

The Marine Technology Society sounded the alarm in 2018 by claiming the Titan was not up to certain safety standards, risking “serious consequences for everyone in the industry.” A year later, CEO Rush dismissed the safety concerns, saying the commercial sub industry was “obscenely safe”.

James Cameron, the director of the movie Titanic, was among those expressing safety concerns. The day after the Titan was said to have imploded, Cameron told the media that he was “struck by the similarity to 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.”

As for the late Mr. Rush, his place in history now is among those other inventors killed by their own inventions.

(Contact Keith at keithkappes@gmail.com).

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