Oxygen > Inspiration

In this soft and easy age, it is understandable if people forget that there are more important things than being “inspirational”. Competence, in particular, being one of them.

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who went missing aboard his Titan submersible vessel along with four other passengers on Sunday, told an interviewer he didn’t want to hire a bunch of “50-year-old white guys” like other submarine companies because he wanted his team to be “inspirational.”

“When I started the business, one of the things you’ll find, there are other sub-operators out there but they typically have gentleman who are ex-military submariners and you’ll see a whole bunch of 50-year-old white guys,” Rush told a representative with Teledyne Marine.

“I wanted our team to be younger, to be inspirational and I’m not going to inspire a 16-year-old to go pursue marine technology but a 25-year-old you know who’s a subpilot or a platform operator or one of our techs can be inspirational,” Rush continued. “So we’ve really tried to to get very intelligent, motivated, younger individuals involved because we’re doing things that are completely new.”

“We’re taking approaches that are used largely in the aerospace industry, is related to safety and some of the the preponderance of checklists things we do for risk assessments and things like that, that are more aviation related than ocean related and we can train people to do that. We can train someone to pilot the sub, we use a game controller so anybody can drive the sub.”

Setting aside the fact that game controllers use very, very inexpensive plastic parts that have been known to fail, Rush’s preference for youth, inspiration, and color appear to have proven fatal.

Former OceanGate director of marine operations David Lochridge — one of those “50-year-old white guys” Rush wanted to avoid hiring for not being “inspirational” enough — was fired by Rush in 2018 after he reportedly blew the whistle on OceanGate by raising safety concerns over their first-of-a-kind carbon fiber hull and other systems.

Personally, I’m finding the entire OceanGate debacle to be absolutely inspiring. But let’s not fail to address the obvious: hadn’t this guy ever heard of either Watergate, Heaven’s Gate, or Pizzagate?