Titanic sub company chief didn’t want to hire older White men; not ‘inspirational’

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The excursion company executive who launched the now-missing vessel that was bound for the Titanic’s wreckage is being scrutinized for past comments in which he said he didn’t want to hire “50-year-old white guys” because they weren’t “inspirational” figures.

Stockton Rush, OceanGate Expeditions’ founder, is one of five people aboard the missing submersible that is the focus of an international search and rescue effort in the North Atlantic.

Mr. Rush had said in an interview that experience in handling subsea vehicles was less important to him than wanting “our team to have a variety of different backgrounds.”

“One of the things you’ll find is there are other sub operators out there, but they typically have gentlemen who are ex-military submariners, and you’ll see a whole bunch of 50-year-old white guys,” Mr. Rush told marine equipment-manufacturing company Teledyne Marine.

“I wanted our team to be younger, to be inspirational…a 25-year-old who’s been a sub pilot or a platform operator [or] one of our techs, can be inspirational,” he said in the interview that began making the rounds on social media sites Wednesday.

It’s unclear when the interview was conducted, but Mr. Rush spoke as if he had successfully completed tourist excursions to the Titanic site, which OceanGate had done in 2021 and 2022.

He also told Teledyne that Titanic tourists are going to be spending eight days on a boat, so he wanted to avoid hiring people who “have the same experience of working on a U.S. nuclear sub or working for Atlantis submarines.”

“We’ve got one guy who threw the hammer as a varsity athlete,” Mr. Rush went on. “We’ve got one guy who’s done everything — he goes and surfs in Iceland in the winter — but you really get people who have a diverse background and train them — and train and train and train — so it does come off as a polished and safe operation.”

A previous report on the Titan, the 21-foot submersible that was first reported missing Sunday, showed Mr. Rush talking about how the vessel is operated by a video game controller.

A CBS reporter who rode in the Titan said parts of the watercraft’s hull looked improvised.

The Titan lost contact with the surface less than two hours after it made its descent Sunday morning.

The U.S. Coast Guard said that “banging noises” were detected within the search area late Tuesday night and before dawn Wednesday, but authorities haven’t been able to find any clues that verify it came from the missing Titan.

The Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Armed Forces are working with U.S. authorities during the search-and-rescue effort that encompasses an area twice the size of Connecticut in international waters more than 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

Aboard the vessel with Mr. Rush are British explorer Hamish Harding, Titanic researcher Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman.

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