James Cameron criticises Titanic sub rescue operation as a “nightmarish charade”

James Cameron followed the search for the missing submarine closely and compared the tragedy to the original Titanic sinking. 

james cameron titanic submarine

Cameron is an experienced deep sea diver and has completed 33 dives to the Titanic wreck. The Hollywood director heard the news about the missing OceanGate submarine on Monday and immediately feared the worst. 

“I felt in my bones what had happened. For the sub’s electronics to fail and its communication system to fail, and its tracking transponder to fail simultaneously – sub’s gone,” Cameron told BBC News.  

“Their comms were lost, and navigation was lost – and I said instantly, you can’t lose comms and navigation together without an extreme catastrophic event or high, highly energetic catastrophic event. And the first thing that popped to mind was an implosion.”


The OceanGate logo is seen on a vessel stored near the OceanGate offices on June 21, 2023 in Everett, Washington. OceanGate, owner of the missing submersible carrying five people trying to visit the Titanic wreckage in the North Atlantic, operates out of Everett. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

It was confirmed yesterday that the five people inside the submarine, which had lost contact an hour and 45 minutes into its dive, had all perished after a suspected “catastrophic implosion”. 

For Cameron, the past week had “felt like a prolonged and nightmarish charade where people are running around talking about banging noises and talking about oxygen and all this other stuff.”

“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 up full speed into an ice field on a moonless night,” Cameron told ABC News.

Titanic, the largest ship in the world at the time, hit an iceberg in 1912 on its maiden voyage to New York. The disaster cost the lives of over 1500 people due to insufficient number of lifeboats on board. 

titanic kate winslet (1)

Credit: 20th Century Studios

James Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic made Leonardo DiCaprio into an international star and the film won 11 Oscars. The film celebrated its 25th Anniversary last year and Cameron and producer Jon Landau reflected on its legacy. 

Speculating on why the film still resonates with audiences today, Cameron said: “It’s a reminder of what can happen when we put too much faith in technology and in our own intelligence.”

“We now have another wreck that is based on unfortunately the same principles of not heeding warnings,” the director commented on the similarities between the two disasters to BBC News. “OceanGate were warned.”

According to Cameron, people from the deep submergence community had sent a letter to OceanGate. Cameron was involved in the letter, but said it warned OceanGate: “you are going on a path to catastrophe”.

Leave a Reply

More like this