A sea-going company is offering civilian shipmates the opportunity to see the Titanic up close. OceanGate Expeditions seeks “mission specialists”, also referred to as “citizen scientists”, to join them on a series of dives to the famous wreck.
Want in? Better check with the bank. A fee of $125,000 is needed for this true one off adventure. OceanGate President Stockton Rush is keen to emphasize that, while money is being made, the focus is on preserving what’s left of the sunken liner for future generations.
It’s definitely a case of all hands on deck. Volunteer divers are expected to assist the team, who want to scan and video the site for future 3D modeling.
Other urgent work includes assessing RMS Titanic’s condition – it’s predicted the rusted hulk doesn’t have long left – and meeting some 300 unique marine inhabitants of the distinctive habitat.
Speaking to Insider, Rush highlights the ship’s iconic status. He says: “if you ask somebody what’s underwater, they’re going to say sharks, whales, and the Titanic.” By starting big, he hopes to promote the idea of helping historic shipwrecks wherever they may be.
Set to start May 2021, the experience involves traveling out into the Atlantic from Newfoundland. The nearly 400 mile voyage culminates in participants climbing aboard the Titan – a state of the art submersible developed with NASA know-how. Known as “Cyclops”, the one-eyed vessel puts guests up close and personal with the rapidly-degrading remains.
Currently on offer are six trips of 10 days each. A deep dive in the submersible lasts between 8 and 10 hours. Haters of confined spaces might want to give it a miss! The Titan can accommodate 5 passengers. 3 of those will be the all-important citizen scientists. They even have the chance to steer the sub, though may find the control system familiar… it’s adapted from a Playstation!
The Titan is designed to venture down 3,800 ft, where the Titanic has lain since 1912. Striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage, the ship’s hull was torn open. The White Star liner took 3 hours to sink. 705 souls survived out of over 2,000. The wreck was finally found in 1985. According to the Daily Mail it lies in 2 pieces, 2,000 ft apart. There’s also an epic debris field to be rummaged through. Personal possessions of the unfortunate passengers are waiting to be studied.
Prospective Cousteaus don’t simply hand over the loot. There’s a big interview first. Belfast Live reports that OceanGate ask “questions about individuals’ health and expedition history.” Insider writes interested parties must be “over 18, physically able, and will be vetted for compatibility.” Part of the process involves going on test dives to see who can handle themselves below the surface. Training is provided.
54 slots are available for the journey. And at time of writing it appears these are mostly full. “Rush says he has three dozen people booked for the first six diving expeditions from May to July,” says Bloomberg, “with additional spaces available.”
Volunteers who make the grade form part of a small group of individuals to have witnessed the Titanic up close. 140 people have gone down there, including ‘Titanic’ director James Cameron (working on 2003 documentary ‘Ghosts of the Abyss’). OceanGate is running the first civilian dives to the wreck in 15 years. As Rush says, quoted by the Mail, “More people summit Everest in a day than have ever seen the Titanic.”
Rush reportedly wants to make the dives an annual activity, should the initial May – July missions prove successful. OceanGate estimates that “multiple missions performed over several years will be required to document the wreckage fully.”
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Interest in the Titanic’s final resting place – a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site – is still high in the 21st century. Aside from OceanGate’s plans, there are 2 replicas in development.
One of these will actually travel along the same watery path as Titanic, whereas the other is a static attraction. Meanwhile, a stunning recreation of the ship’s interior and everything else has been realized for forthcoming game ‘Titanic: Honor and Glory’…