Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron said he received the information within 24 hours of the disappearance of the submersible Titan that it had imploded when it lost communication with its mothership.
“We got confirmation within an hour that there had been a loud bang at the same time that the sub comms were lost,” Mr Cameron, who directed the 1997 movie Titanic, said.
“A loud bang on the hydrophone. Loss of transponder. Loss of comms. I knew what happened. The sub imploded,” he said, adding that he told colleagues in an email on Monday, “We’ve lost some friends,” and, “It’s on the bottom in pieces right now”.
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The submersible carrying five people to the Titanic imploded near the site of the shipwreck and killed everyone on board, authorities said on Thursday. The Titan launched on Sunday around 8am EST and was reported overdue that afternoon about 435 miles south of St John’s, Newfoundland.
But after one hour and 45 minutes, the craft lost contact with its mothership, the Polar Prince.
Those on board were British billionaire Hamish Harding, Titanic expert Paul-Henri Narheolet, Pakistan-born businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate Expedition’s chief executive Stockton Rush.
The decorated director’s statement comes amid reports that secret US Navy underwater microphones detected the Titan sub’s implosion several days ago, but the information was released on Thursday.
The Navy used a top secret acoustic detection system to search for any sign of the OceanGate Expeditions submersible soon after it was reported missing on Sunday, a US defence official told The Wall Street Journal.
Mr Cameron, who has made over 30 dives to the Titanic wreckage, said he wishes he had sounded the alarm earlier about the submersible.
He became a deep-sea explorer in the 1990s while researching for his Oscar-winning film Titanic and is part owner of Triton Submarines, which makes submersibles for research and tourism.
When he heard that OceanGate was making a deep-sea submersible with a composite carbon fiber and titanium hull, Mr Cameron said he was skeptical.
“I thought it was a horrible idea. I wish I’d spoken up, but I assumed somebody was smarter than me, you know, because I never experimented with that technology, but it just sounded bad on its face,” Cameron told Reuters.
Although the cause of the implosion has not been determined, Mr Cameron presumes the critics were correct in warning that a carbon fiber and titanium hull would enable delamination and microscopic water ingress, leading to progressive failure over time.
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