Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2861

The Troublemaker—The disaster sub’s titanic safety failure

Years before OceanGate's disaster mission the bosses at the company had refused to listen to safety concerns
Issue 2861
OceanGate red tape

OceanGate were already in deep water over safety concerns

Years before OceanGate’s submersible craft went missing in the Atlantic Ocean with five people on board, the company faced several safety warnings.

In January 2018 the company’s engineering team was about to hand over the craft—named Titan—to a new crew who would be responsible for ensuring the safety of its future passengers.

But experts inside and outside the company were beginning to sound alarms. OceanGate’s director of marine operations, David Lochridge, started working on a report, according to court papers.

He ultimately produced a scathing document in which he said the craft needed more testing and stressed “the potential dangers to passengers of the Titan as the submersible reached extreme depths.”

Two months later, OceanGate faced similarly dire calls from more than three dozen people—industry figures, deep-sea explorers and oceanographers.

They warned in a letter to its chief executive, Stockton Rush, that the company’s “experimental” approach and its decision to forgo a traditional assessment could lead to potentially “catastrophic” problems with mission to view the wreck of the Titanic. Rush was on the vessel and was serving as its pilot when it went missing.

The critiques from Lochridge and the experts who signed the 2018 letter to Rush were focused in part on Rush’s refusal to have the Titan inspected and certified. Lochridge said he had urged the company to do so, but was told that OceanGate was “unwilling to pay” for such an assessment.

Lochridge also reported learning that the viewport that lets passengers see outside the craft was only certified to work in depths of up to 1,300 metres.

That is far less than would be necessary for trips to the Titanic, which is nearly 4,000 metres below the ocean’s surface. Rush has spoken publicly in the past about what he viewed as excessive regulatory red tape in the industry.

“There hasn’t been an injury in the commercial sub industry in over 35 years,” he told Smithsonian magazine in a profile published in 2019.

“It’s obscenely safe because they have all these regulations. But it also hasn’t innovated or grown because they have all these regulations.”

  • Both Tories and Labour paid homage to Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch last week. Cabinet member attendees included home secretary Suella Braverman, foreign secretary James Cleverly and deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden.
  • Bowing to Murdoch used to be frowned on by many Labour members. Nowadays Keir Starmer and Sadiq Khan’s attendance hardly causes a ripple.

  • It occurred to MPs that a way of getting round the stuffy ban on calling one of their colleagues a liar was to accuse them of being “a Boris Johnson”.
  • The SNP’s Stephen Flynn tried it last week when he accused Rishi Sunak of taking honesty lessons from his predecessor. Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, a Labour MP, was having none of it.
  • He ruled that comparing an MP to Johnson is the equivalent of saying an MP is a liar and not allowed.

The Windrush generation who were deported for being ill

Hundreds of long term sick people and people with mental distress from the Windrush generation were sent back to the Caribbean in what has been described as a “historic injustice”.

Formerly classified documents reveal at least 411 people were sent back between the 1950s and the early 1970s, under a scheme that was meant to be voluntary.

Families say they were ripped apart and some were never reunited. British government officials spoke of “those Commonwealth citizens for whom Britain had little use”.

June Armatrading’s father, Joseph, was one of those sent back. Like other people from the Caribbean who travelled to Britain after the war, Joseph was British. His birthplace—St Kitts—was a British colony and still administered directly from London, and he was a British passport holder.

Joseph arrived in 1954 and lived in Nottingham with his wife and five daughters. However, he began struggling with his mental health in the 1960s and was diagnosed with paranoid psychosis. In 1966. He was forcibly returned to St Kitts. A letter, written by Joseph, asking to return to Britain so he could rejoin his family. Little is known about what happened to Joseph after this.

And in previously confidential letters, government officials admitted the procedure of repatriating Joseph had “not been correct”. He had been wrongly stripped of his passport

Professor James Hampshire of the University of Sussex said there was a desire on the part of both Labour and Conservative governments to restrict their numbers. “The intent and effect of legislation that was passed in the 1960s and 70s was to restrict some kinds of migration and not other kinds,” he said.

“It was primarily aimed at what was referred to at the time as ‘coloured immigration’.”

If cops don’t Taser you, they’ll nick your bank card

A police officer who Tasered a man six times has been sacked. PC Phillip Smith was part of a group of officers responding to reports of concern for the welfare of a suicidal man at his home in Dukinfield, near Manchester, in June 2018.

Smith used his Taser on the man twice in his bedroom, twice in his hall and porch and twice in his front garden. The man was already handcuffed for the final four uses of the Taser.

Smith pleaded guilty at Preston crown court to common assault in September 2021 and was given an 18-month conditional charge and ordered to pay his victim £250. 

A Metropolitan Police officer has admitted abusing his position to get hold of dead people’s bank card details.

Muhammed Mustafa Darr, pleaded guilty to two charges of misconduct in public office recently.

The cop stole card details then “used to acquire or seek to acquire goods or money transfers for himself or others by fraud, and to sell on goods obtained fraudulently,” according to the charge.

Abuser Epstein linked Labour to the bankers

Jeffrey Epstein, the super-rich child rapist, brokered meetings between then-senior banker Jes Staley and high-ranking members of the British Labour government, according to JPMorgan Chase.

A 22-page report by the bank, compiled following the arrest of its former client in 2019, details how Epstein offered to connect Staley with the chancellor at the time, Alistair Darling, and Peter Mandelson, former business secretary.

 In January 2010, just months after he was released from jail having served a sentence for sex crimes, Epstein wrote to Staley, “I’ve set up you and Peter to meet in davos with Darling.” This was a reference to the World Economic Forum that was taking place in Switzerland.

Staley wrote to Epstein that he saw “Peter last night. Darling in 20 minutes. Will talk again with Peter this AM.”

According to the report, the company found an email from Epstein to Staley saying that “Peter” was staying at “71st” over the weekend in June 2009.

Epstein owned a flat in East 71st Street, Manhattan. It also quoted Epstein emailing Staley in January 2011 telling him “Pete in Paris with me”

The things they say 

‘We cannot continue to have the current level of wage increase’

Bank of England Governor, Andrew Bailey, who is on £600,000 an year

 ‘One of the reasons we fared badly in the pandemic is because we are unhealthy as a nation, we are too big’

Tory MP Steve Brine

‘This paragraph is obviously not what I would say now’

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt tries to explain why he had said Britain was well prepared for a pandemic

‘What is wrong with this country? It seems there isn’t a day that goes by without some industry, somewhere, striking

The reactionary Douglas Murray writes in the Sun to complain the country is now too left wing for him.

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance