A former employee of OceanGate Expeditions, the company that sent out the now-missing submersible full of tourists to see the wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic, lodged major concerns about the vessel in a quality inspection report—but was met with “hostility and denial” from the company and fired, according to his allegations from a lawsuit in 2018.
David Lochridge, a Scottish submarine pilot, began working for OceanGate in Washington State in 2015, first as a contractor and then as director of marine operations, according to a 2018 claim he filed against the company, alleging that he was unfairly fired.
According to the claim, the company held a meeting in January 2018 about concerns over the quality control and safety of the Titan submersible, the 22-foot vessel now missing in the Atlantic Ocean after it dove Sunday morning with five people aboard.
Lochridge had alleged major safety issues: there had been almost no unmanned testing of the craft; the alarm system would only sound off “milliseconds” before an implosion; and the porthole was only certified to withstand pressure of 1,300 meters, even though OceanGate planned to take the submersible 4,000 meters underwater.
Throughout the inspection, Lochridge alleged he “was met with hostility and denial of access to necessary documentation that should have been freely available,” and was soon given “approximately ten minutes to immediately clear out his desk and exit the premises.”
According to the New York Times, OceanGate said it seemed like “Lochridge was trying to be fired” and he had refused some company data when he was conducting his research (the suit was later settled).
Forbes reached out to OceanGate for comment.
Lochridge filed the lawsuit as a counterclaim in response to a suit filed against him by OceanGate, alleging he had disclosed confidential information about the Titan. The lawsuit adds to growing concerns about the safety and review process for the submersible, which has now been missing for four days and has roughly 24 hours of oxygen left as of Wednesday morning. A report from CBS in 2022 showed some of the “jerry-rigged” construction qualities of the Titan, including off-the-shelf materials, a video game controller used to operate the system and construction pipes acting as ballast. OceanGate was founded in 2009 and began offering the first-ever tourist trips to view the famous Titanic shipwreck for $250,000, with the first successful excursions in 2021 and 2022.