Washington submarine firm to take people to the Titanic

EVERETT, Wash. — When a big ship sinks in the open ocean, it does not gently drift to rest on the seabed. It slams into it, coming to a crushing stop.

“Each wreck lands on the bottom and cracks,” submarine driver David Lochridge explained, slapping his right hand into his left to punctuate his point.

The impact’s violence only adds to any damage that may have led to the sinking. Once on the bottom, natural conditions wear down even the biggest shipwrecks given enough time.

That deterioration can create dangers for divers and submarines exploring the site — downed lines, loose nets and collapsed bulkheads, to name a few.

Lochridge can feel the adrenaline coursing through his body every time he approaches a wreck, he said. “You have to take your time,” using powerful sonar equipment to identify loose lines and nets and other hazardous debris before cautiously proceeding.

That is the approach he took last year when Lochridge piloted OceanGate’s Cyclops I submarine to the wreck of the Andrea Doria, an ocean liner that sank in 1956 after colliding with another ship in fog off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.

As Lochridge eased Cyclops I toward the wreck, the five-man sub’s lights lit up a sliver of the carcass of the grand ship. Lying on its side in about 240 feet of water, it is shallow enough for some sunlight to reach.

“Looking out the sub’s top hatch, I could see this massive object,” he said in his chipper Scottish accent. He stretched his arms wide to emphasize the magnitude.

Lochridge and OceanGate plan to return to the site this summer to conduct further research. It is part of the startup company’s effort to push ocean exploration. It is also training for its deepest dive yet: the wreck of the RMS Titanic, which lies about 12,000 feet — more than two miles — below the waves in the Atlantic.

OceanGate, which is based on Everett’s waterfront, plans to dive on the famous wreck in 2018 — and it is taking along paying passengers. They will not be tourists, though. Each one has to pass a physical and will work alongside other expedition members, said Stockton Rush, OceanGate’s chief executive officer and co-founder.

The former McDonnell Douglas test pilot launched the company with Guillermo Söhnlein, who left OceanGate five years ago. It developed Cyclops I with the University of Washington. The sub that will take Rush and Lochridge to Titanic, Cyclops II, is still being manufactured. Rush said he hopes to have it in the water for testing in November.

Catching a ride to the Titanic is not cheap: $105,129. It is an awkward number — but one with meaning. That roughly is how much a first-class ticket aboard Titanic would cost in today’s dollars.

The Vanderbilts, Astors and other giants of their time paid $4,350 in 1912 to cross the Atlantic on the ship’s maiden voyage.

Of course, Titanic never reached New York. It struck an iceberg about 400 miles off Newfoundland. The massive ocean liner sank in the frigid North Atlantic waters, and some 1,500 of the 2,344 passengers and crew aboard died.

The wreck lay undisturbed until 1985, when a team led by ocean explorer Robert Ballard discovered it. Since then, a handful of manned and unmanned submersibles have visited the site.

Diving on wrecks can be controversial. Some, including the Titanic, are grave sites for the victims. Exploring a site can also damage it; in 1995, one of the MIR submersibles used by James Cameron to get footage for his film “Titanic” collided with the wreck. It can also be accompanied by looting.

Ballard and others openly have criticized the cavalier attitude many have taken to what he considers a sacred grave. Cruise ships circling above have dumped trash on the wreck.

“And a New York couple had even plunked down on Titanic’s bow in a submersible to be married,” he wrote in National Geographic in 2004. “I’d urged others to treat Titanic’s remains with dignity, like that shown the battleship Arizona in Pearl Harbor. Instead they’d turned her into a freak show at the county fair.”

OceanGate will treat the site with respect and dignity, Rush said.

The scheduled dives will further map and document the site using more sophisticated tools than previously available, and it will conduct scientific research to better understand how shipwrecks deteriorate.

What is learned can help authorities determine how best to clean up existing and future wrecks that could cause ecological damage as they deteriorate, he said. The dives are also a key stepping stone for OceanGate as a business. “With the Titanic, we’ll be profitable,” Rush said.

He and angel investors put “tens of millions” of dollars into the company, he said.

More significant, visiting Titanic will give the startup deep-sea diving experience, something it has to have to expand its list of clients.

“The industry guys, the first question they ask is ‘How many dives to 3,000 meters have you done?,’” he said. “When you say ‘none,’ they say, ‘OK, come back when you have.’”

Most small submarines and underwater remotely operated vehicles are privately owned, making it difficult to rent one. But most companies, public agencies and academic researchers don’t need to own their own sub or remotely operated vehicle. OceanGate aims to fill that gap, offering the underwater equivalent of chartering a private jet rather than buying one.

OceanGate’s potential customers include university scientists, adventure travelers, petroleum companies and even the state’s Department of Transportation, which regularly inspects bridges and other underwater structures.

In 2014, the company had its best-known passenger, hip hop artist Ben Haggerty, or Macklemore, as he is better known. The Seattle native tagged along with the crew of OceanGate’s first sub, Antipodes, on a dive in Puget Sound to find sixgill sharks. The voyage was filmed for the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” series.

As for Titanic, “we plan to go every year as long as the world thinks it’s worthwhile,” Rush said.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Thunder Mountain monument stands as a tribute to Native American culture
Caretaker Fred Lewis talks about Thunder Mountain monument in central Nevada, made from concrete and found items. The five-acre site is a tribute to Native Peoples of the West. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New CCSD superintendent Jesus F. Jara aims for 1st in the nation
On his third day as Clark County School District superintendent, Jesus F. Jara talks about his vision for the future during a visit to Del Sol Academy of the Performing Arts on Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Ceremony Recognizes Refugee Students, Graduates
Rosy Mibulano, a graduate of Las Vegas High School who came to America from the Congo in 2015, was recognized in a ceremony for refugee students in Clark County. Like many other students relocated to Las Vegas from countries around the world, Rosy had a challenging high school experience, from learning English to adjusting to American customs and taking care of her family. On top of that, she wants to go to school to become a nurse so she can take care of her mother, who suffers from diabetes. The annual Refugee Recognition Ceremony celebrates the enormous lengths these young adults go through to create a new life for themselves. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Water leak at Mandalay Bay convention center
The convention center area of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas experienced major flooding Tuesday afternoon. Credit: Melinda Cook
Hollywood Memorabilia Up For Grabs at Las Vegas Auction
Elvis Presley's car, Marilyn Monroe's bras, Han Solo's blaster, and Jerry Lewis's "Nutty Professor" suit are just some of the items that are up for auction at Julien's Auctions at Planet Hollywood June 22 and 23. The auction's viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Aaliyah Inghram awarded medal of courage
Aaliyah Inghram, a 10-year-old girl who was shot while protecting her 18-month-old brother and 4-year-old cousin during a shooting on May 8, awarded medal of courage. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegans Pack Public Lands Open House
A crowd filled the Clark County Library conference room Tuesday afternoon where Clark County officials hold their first -- and possibly only -- public meeting on plans to open almost 39,000 acres of federal land for development just outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area. County commissioners are set to vote June 19 on a potentially controversial resolution seeking federal legislation that would set aside tens of thousands of acres for conservation while giving Nevada’s largest community more room to grow. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like