‘Titanic’ Director James Cameron Says Safety ‘Warnings’ About Titan Sub Were Ignored

James Cameron and Titan Sub (Credit: Shutterstock/YouTube)

James Cameron, the renowned director of the blockbuster film Titanic and a deep-sea explorer, said Thursday the diving community sounded alarms about the Titan tourist submersible, long before authorities announced five people had died on the vessel.

On the same day authorities said everyone onboard the sub was presumed dead after a “catastrophic implosion,” Cameron told ABC News the tragedy could have been prevented.

“Many people in the community were very concerned about this sub,” Cameron said. “A number of the top players in the deep submergence engineering community even wrote letters to the company, saying that what they were doing was too experimental to carry passengers and that it needed to be certified and so on.”

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The filmmaker drew parallels between the Titan and the Titanic, highlighting the disregard for warnings in both instances.

“I’m struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself, where the captain was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship, and yet he steamed at full speed into an ice field on a moonless night and many people died as a result,” Cameron said.

“For us, a very similar tragedy where warnings went unheeded, to take place at the same exact site with all the diving that’s going on all around the world, I think it’s just astonishing. It’s really quite surreal,” he continued.

The filmmaker added that he was longtime friends with one of the passengers on the Titan and that sensors probably warned the people on the vessel something was wrong just before the implosion.

“This OceanGate sub had sensors on the inside of a hull to give them a warning when it was starting to crack,” he said. “And I think if that’s your idea of safety, then you’re doing it wrong. They probably had warning that their hull was starting to delaminate, starting to crack.”

The director himself has taken 33 trips to the Titanic wreckage site, and claimed he’s spent more time at the ship than the man who captained it in 1912.

There were 2,200 passengers and crew members on the Titanic and about 1,500 died on the voyage, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The wreckage was discovered in 1985 at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to his 1997 feature film Titanic, Cameron directed the 2003 documentary Ghosts of the Abyss, on the final undersea resting place of the ship — further deepening his connection to the vessel.

The Titan sub was operated by OceanGate Expeditions. The Everett, Washington-based company began making trips to the Titanic wreckage site in 2021 and charged passengers up to $250,000.

On Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard said a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) pinpointed a “debris field” near the wreckage site.

Rear Adm. John Mauger of the First Coast Guard District said in a news conference that the debris “is consistent with a catastrophic implosion” of the Titan sub.

The five individuals aboard the vessel were identified as Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate Expeditions; British billionaire Hamish Harding; French dive expert Paul Henry Nargeolet; and prominent Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman.

Following the announcement of the crew’s deaths, the company operating the submersible released a statement on Twitter, honoring the passengers as “true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure.”

The Titan went missing off the coast of Canada on Sunday (June 18), after it began a journey to view the Titanic — 13,000 feet below the surface of the North Atlantic.

The search for the submersible lasted four days.