Titan: what can we learn from the fatal expedition?

A massive international search had been underway since Sunday for the missing mini-submersible Titan, which vanished on an expedition to the Titanic shipwreck with five passengers on board. On Thursday, a diving robot finally located pieces of the missing sub. A spokesman for the US Coast Guard offered condolences to the relatives. Comments in the media reflect on the deaths of the passengers and the huge interest generated by the story.

Gość Niedzielny (PL) /

Society needs courageous naysayers

For the Catholic weekly Gość Niedzielny, the incident casts a dour light on our times:

“According to US media, David Lochridge was sacked as the company’s passenger safety officer in 2018 when he refused to give the green light for manned tests of the Titan submersible. ... This is exemplary of many areas of life: don’t spoil anyone’s mood, don’t get anyone upset, don’t come up with tricky diagnoses or solutions. That’s the way to live — in church, at work, in the family, in the community, among your circle of friends. But the story of the Titanic — and of the Titan — shows that it is not worth staying silent for the sake of peace.”

Jacek Dziedzina
The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Without pioneers humanity goes nowhere

The Daily Telegraph defends the diving expedition and its participants:

“The ocean floor is today’s Antarctica. It’s a new frontier. And those who go about investigating this frontier share the same characteristics as the heroes of yesteryear, whatever their nationality. They are innovators, they are risk-takers; sometimes, they are even visionaries. ... Without such brave souls as these deep-sea adventurers we’d have got nowhere at all through the ages — whether as Brits, or as a species.”

Benedict Allen
Il Manifesto (IT) /

At their own risk

The people on board the Titan knew what they were getting into, Il Manifesto points out:

“Trips to the wreck of the Titanic are not cheap: a ticket for the submersible costs 250,000 dollars and the boat is just seven metres long. Passengers have to sign a document that states that the sub is an experimental vessel that ‘has not been approved or certified by any government agency and may result in physical injury, disability, emotional trauma or death’. Until yesterday, this had no deterrent effect, so powerful is the appeal of the Titanic.”

Fabrizio Tonello
De Volkskrant (NL) /

Bizarre ego trips

De Volkskrant columnist Peter de Waard sees this brand of extreme tourism by the super-rich as antisocial:

“The deep-sea, space, Himalayan and polar tourists are united by the fact that their activities are only for themselves, with no benefit for the community. But when they get into trouble, they have to be rescued at the expense of that very same community. ... Billionaires can afford these bizarre excesses because it has become impossible to tax their wealth internationally. The money should be used to fight famine in Darfur, to fight malaria, to take in refugees in Tunisia and Turkey or to clean up the oceans. With these excesses the world will only become dirtier and more anti-social.”

Peter de Waard
The Guardian (GB) /

A shameful contrast in rescue efforts

The efforts now underway to rescue the passengers raise moral questions for The Guardian:

“The US coastguard, Canadian armed forces and commercial vessels are all hunting for the Titan submersible, which has gone missing with five aboard on a dive to the wreck of the Titanic in the north Atlantic. The UK’s Ministry of Defence is also monitoring the situation. It is hard to think of a starker contrast with the response to a fishing boat which sank in the Mediterranean last week with an estimated 750 people, including children, packed onboard. Only about 100 survived, making this one of the deadliest disasters in the Mediterranean. ... Activists say authorities were repeatedly warned of the danger this boat faced, hours before it went down, but failed to act.”