A former employee of the missing Titan submersible operator has revealed he had raised “safety concerns” over the vessel but was reportedly “met with hostility” before later being sacked, court documents have shown.
OceanGate’s former director of marine operations, David Lochridge, had raised concerns over “safety and quality control issues regarding the Titan to OceanGate executive management”, according to the filings.
In the August 2018 court document, it claims chief executive and founder of OceanGate Expeditions Stockton Rush, asked Mr Lochridge to conduct a “quality inspection” report on the vessel following the “issues of quality control”.
Mr Lochridge “identified numerous issues that posed serious safety concerns” but he was reportedly “met with hostility and denial of access” to necessary documents.
The court filing claims he was worried about a “lack of non-destructive testing performed on the hull of the Titan”, and that he “stressed the potential danger to passengers of the Titan as the submersible reached extreme depths”.
Mr Lochridge was later fired from the company, wrongfully he claims.
OceanGate’s icebreaker, Polar Prince, which was supporting Titan, reportedly lost contact with the vessel about an hour and 45 minutes after it submerged.
The five men on board are Stockton Rush, British billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, and French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.
They had “about 40 hours of breathable air” left, the US Coast Guard said on Tuesday night.
A race-against-time search and rescue operation is taking place some 435 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada.
The wreckage of the Titanic, which sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg, lies at a depth of about 12,500 feet (3,810 metres).
The Titan submersible usually takes two hours to descend to the wreck.