How James Cameron Explored Titanic on Russian-Built ‘Mir’ Sub.
James Cameron, the director of the famous film Titanic, embarked on underwater expeditions to explore the sunken ship using Russian-built Mir submersibles. These submersibles, operated by the Russian Academy of Sciences, provided a safer alternative to the currently missing Titan.
During the mid-1990s and early 2000s, Cameron utilized the Mir submersibles to film the wreckage of the Titanic at depths of up to 3,821 meters. In subsequent documentaries such as “Ghosts of the Abyss” and “Expedition: Bismarck,” he ventured even deeper, reaching 4,700 meters.
Compared to the Titan, the Mir submersibles were specifically designed for scientific research and rescue operations. The commander of Mir, Anatoly Sagalevich, highlighted the robust safety features of the submersibles, such as the durable spheres capable of withstanding pressures of 500 atmospheres, equivalent to more than 160 tons of force. The portholes were made of acrylic glass, ensuring reliability even at extreme depths.
In contrast, concerns have been raised regarding the safety and suitability of the Titan, operated by OceanGate. The company fired its former Director of Marine Operations, David Lochridge, in 2018 due to disagreements over safety checks and classification. Lochridge had insisted on more rigorous safety measures, including integrity testing, and advocated for classification to ensure adherence to technical standards.
However, OceanGate opposed the idea of seeking classification, citing the potential delay in the certification process, which could hinder rapid innovation. The company charges up to $250,000 per seat on the submersible and believed that its in-house safety protocols were sufficient to mitigate risks.
Unfortunately, the Titan is currently missing with five people on board after losing communication during a dive to the Titanic wreckage. A search and rescue operation is underway to locate and recover the submersible before its oxygen supply runs out.
In contrast to Cameron’s expeditions with the reliable Mir submersibles, the fate of the Titan highlights the importance of rigorous safety checks and adherence to industry-wide technical standards to ensure the safety of deep-sea exploration missions.