Image Credit: CBS Mornings Youtube screenshot

A Billionaire’s Most Costly Voyage


If you have not heard about the missing submersible, the Titan, which took passengers to the bottom of the ocean to see Titanic wreckage, got lost and had not been heard from since Sunday, well, then you are clearly living underneath a coral reef. In fact, on June 22, the submersible’s passengers were pronounced dead by the U.S. Coast Guard. The submersible contained five people, including the CEO of Oceangate, Stockton Rush. Every passenger, save the 19-year-old son of one of the passengers, was a billionaire, including the owner of the vessel. 

The voyage cost $250,000 each.  

The internet is very divided over how to feel the ordeal. I, in particular, received an immense amount of backlash for writing a poem/tweet about the situation, which was a commentary on the hubris of billionaires and not the actual deaths. It seemed as if most people agreed and even more were not at all emotionally moved by the situation (including making jokes). Others found themselves overly upset over the passing of people they did not know, who just happened to be completely rich and responsible for their own deaths. 

The Titan was a submersible, not a submarine. A submersible has less power than a submarine and must rely on a mother ship for launch and return. Although the Titan had been on three previous voyages, they were also not without incident, including getting lost previously. The submersible was also powered by a $35 Logitech game controller, and because it operated in international waters was not subject to safety regulations, even though a former employee (who was also fired) brought up major concerns with the submersible in 2018. The waiver that every paying passenger had to sign in order to take the dive mentioned death three times on the first page of the waiver.  

While I don’t condone outright laughing at death, why is it public responsibility to take these deaths more seriously than they did? These people were absolutely aware of the risks and decided to fork over a quarter of a million dollars each to be voyeurs.  As if watching the movie was not good enough. I am not here to tell anyone how to spend money but isn’t a bit entitled to do such a thing? Most of the people who died on the Titanic were poor and lower class.

I’m pretty sure the last thing I would want to see in my final resting place is a billionaire gawking out of the window of a floating conversion van.

What was the most interesting was the demographic that argued for a sympathetic response the most seemed awfully like the same demographic that is indifferent to the suffering of marginalized people and communities.  

Hadish Harding was one of the men aboard the ill-fated vessel. He was a British businessman who had a carbon footprint even bigger than his ego, breaking world records for global circumnavigation and wasting tons of jet fuel in the process. Shazada Dawood, a Pakistani businessman, who was able to buy himself Maltese citizenship (if you don’t know anything about the process of buying Maltese citizenship, just know that is very expensive but also has a reputation for being a way to launder money or evade taxes). Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet was a billionaire and owned the rights to the Titanic wreckage, now aint that something?

I am not saying these are bad people, but generally, where there’s good fortune, there’s bad crime, and most importantly, these men absolutely knew the dangers. They were not forced by anything other than their insatiable need to spend a quarter million dollars to see a giant gravesite and a joystick. There was not even a GPS navigation aboard the vessel. When you have that amount of wealth, you don’t hear the word “no,” very often, which would be easy for someone to confuse with immortality.

In a world where capitalism swallows hardworking people whole, it is very hard for me to find sympathy for capitalists who were swallowed by the ocean instead. 

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