Thursday, June 22, 2023

Lost at sea



              "Ocean Life," by James M. Sommerville (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

     Has anyone credited the Titanic with five more victims? I can't be the first. Maybe they're waiting until the theoretical air supply runs out on the on the Titan, the deep diving submersible lost Sunday in a voyage to the bottom of the sea to ogle the famous wreck.
     Waiting a polite span of time.
     I'm taken by the respectful air of restrained solemnity with which the media greeted the disappearance of the 22-foot-long submersible craft that vanished at the start of its nearly two and a half mile plunge to get up close and personal with the wreckage of the Titanic.
     Five passengers spent nearly a million dollars, collectively, to gaze at the sunken vessel through a thick porthole (though perhaps not thick enough, according to a former employee, who complained five years ago that the craft, run by OceanGate Expeditions, was not safe).
     While it's sad when anyone died, the pointlessness of the endeavor should also be remarked upon. Yes, the Titanic continues to fascinate more than a century after famously sinking on its maiden voyage. I've written about the allure. 
     At least that trip was transportation, getting from Point A to Point B, albeit in style. This latest fatal jaunt was just a lark, without any practical, scientific or aesthetic justification. At least when you go into space, you see the curve of the earth, the blackness of the cosmos. I'm not sure why you'd go to the great expense and obvious danger of setting eyes upon the corroded ruin of the Titanic. To see the thing? To say you did it? What?
     The ocean is vast, and my hunch is the Titan will never be found. My friends were already talking about the movie that will be made from the disappearance, but I just can't envision it. Particularly because the most likely scenario — some part gave way, the intense pressure of the ocean crushed the submersible like an egg, and they were all dead within two seconds — does not lend itself to drama.
     And I'll make another prediction— interest in this kind of thing will soar, not suffer. People with more money than sense will learn about the possibilities and become intrigued, ignoring the "and then you might die" part.
     One of the victims — if that is the proper term for someone who willingly puts themselves in that much danger — was 19 years old. A true tragedy. If he really wanted an incredible adventure, he should have stayed on dry land and lived his ordinary life.

17 comments:

  1. When the story came out, my mind immediately went to all the bodies on Mount Everest. It's been done and why do it? My heart breaks for the terror these poor souls are enduring.

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    1. I’ve read it’s likely whatever happened, they may not have had time to realize they were dying. I hope that’s true, although I agree with Neil, that it was folly. I believe paying $$$ to ride in a rocket for 10 minutes or climbing a mountain makes no sense to me also.

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    2. When people talk about mountain climbing, I always say that is what airplanes and helicopters were invented for, so you don't need to climb a mountain.

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  2. Can't wait to see the "Curse of the Titans." Even though the sinking of the Titanic and the demise of the Titan are completely explicable, the morbidly imaginative among us will come up with a supernatural theme, I'm sure. And probably AI as well.

    john

    john

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  3. Hubris. The ocean wins

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  4. I just can't believe that people with the money to go down 12,500 feet to see what's left of a ship that sunk 111 years ago, would be stupid enough to go down in a jerry built pile of crap like this thing.
    When James Cameron went down for the research he did for making his movie, he used the Russian designed & Finnish built Mir submersible, which is built from a special extreme high strength steel & is capable of going down to 19,000 feet.
    OceanGate's junk is poorly built, the company refused to have it certified by any marine technology agency, one company employee was fired for blowing the whistle on its poor design & construction. It uses a really cheap wireless game controller to operate it. Now the US Navy also uses game controllers for some of our submarine operations, but all of them are wired, so no possibility of dead batteries or a lost Bluetooth connection.
    It's also a small cramped mess in there, in which all must sit barefoot & cross legged for the entire journey. A great way to get a blood clot!
    Then to top it off, there's no way for the occupants to get out of it on their own, as the support crew bolts the hatch shut from the outside.
    It just shows that becoming a billionaire doesn't make you smart & this thing has now been proven to be more dangerous that climbing Mt Everest, which previously had been considered the epitome of rich people foolishness!

    And then to top it off, three countries, USA, Canada & France are wasting millions & risking the lives of their sailors trying to find it in the vast deep ocean, in international waters.

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    1. Ah the - "jerry rigged' craft vs the wonderous virtuous James Cameron endeavor . It's nice to know there is an expert providing us factual information. Oh and the waste of money. I guess a life does have a limit on its value. Plus they are billionaires, who wants to save them? SMH

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  5. Hard to feel sorry for people with more money than brains. They could've rented a submarine.

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  6. I've been thinking about the 19-year-old's mother, as she copes with what's happened to her son and her husband.

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  7. Even as we comment, screenwriters in Hollywood are probably frantically scribbling away (typing away, actually) and competing to come up with a screenplay for a future movie. Perhaps a science fiction adventure/drama, based along the plotlines of "Fantastic Voyage"...the 1966 film about a submarine crew that is shrunk to microscopic size and ventures into the body of an injured scientist, to repair damage to his brain.

    Only this time, the tiny submersible, ironically named Titan, ventures into the remains of the Titanic itself, and becomes entangled in the wreckage and is hopelessly trapped. Then we get to watch them die, slowly and horribly and melodramatically.

    Who knows? Perhaps, years from now, that's where the Titan and its doomed passengers will eventually be found. Entirely plausible, but highly unlikely. A fatal flaw, a pinhole-sized leak, a sudden implosion,, and now their powdered remains have settled to the bottom like sugar in a cold drink, an an indistinguishable part of the ocean floor. Dust to dust.

    This story could serve as an American allegory for these troubled times. We, too, have made a fatal mistake, and a colossal blunder. Now, arrogant to the end, we are trapped in the clutches of a hulking orange wreck, from which there seems to be no avenue of escape. And like the Titan, America's time is also running out.

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  8. I’ve been glued to this story on CNN.
    I’m losing hope; so sad.

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  9. RIP to the Titan passengers.

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  10. I consider the passengers, especially the nineteen year old, to be victims. Maybe an investigation will determine who the perpetrators are.

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  11. Any fault in the pressure vessel meant instant death.

    The urban legend is that the SS_Eastland increased the number of lifeboats due to the Seaman's Act, in response to the Titanic disaster. This was done in a way that made the balance of boat dangerous. Hence the tragedy of Titanic was propagated. I guess the loss of the Titan is rounded 3.

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  12. Now we're told that the 19-year-old wasn't enthusiastic about the trip, but he went with his father because he knew how much it would mean to his father, who wanted very much to take the trip. Very sad!

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  13. So sad and stupid. I worried about my daughter's first solo bike ride. I knew she would ride bikes in the future, and this was a learning experience. I cannot figure out why anyone would put their child in such danger, as to put them in a not properly tested sub (or even a certified sub), to view a 111 year old sunken passenger ship!? Even if nothing had gone wrong, what could be the motivation for this venture? To show people pictures of the wreck? I know the story of the Titanic! It sank with a lot of innocent people on board. I felt sorry for them. But that is the end of the story for me. So sad it wan't for these 5 people......

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