James Cameron Slams “Crazy” OceanGate Rescue Mission: “We All Knew They Were Dead”

Almost a year after the OceanGate sub set out for its ill-fated deep-water dive to the Titanic, James Cameron weighed in on the “crazy” multinational rescue effort that had the entire world on the edge of their seats.

Speaking to 60 Minutes Australia, Cameron claimed that he knew early on that the OceanGate crew had not survived the expedition.

“We all knew they were dead. We’d already hoisted a toast to our fallen comrades on [the] Monday night,” he said, per The Wrap.

The filmmaker also shared a note on 60 Minutes which he claims he wrote when he learned about the sub’s tragic fate. It read, “9:25 confirmed implosion.”

“I literally wrote that on the pad the moment I heard from my naval source, a very reliable source, that they had heard an event and triangulated it to the site [of the sub],” he said.

The Navy reportedly detected an “anomaly” in the acoustic data after the sub went missing on Sunday, June 18, just hours into its descent to the Titanic.

The United States, Canada, Britain, Germany, and France promptly coordinated a rescue effort to locate the submersible. By Thursday, June 22, the Coast Guard confirmed that they discovered debris in the area of the Titanic, suggesting that the vessel suffered a “catastrophic implosion” that killed everybody on board.

James Cameron at the 21st Annual VES Awards
Photo: Getty Images

“It just transformed into this crazy thing,” Cameron said. “Everybody running around with their hair on fire, when we knew right where the sub was. Nobody could admit that they didn’t have the means to go down and look. So they were running all over the surface and the entire world [was] waiting with bated breath.”

Among the victims were OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman Dawood, British explorer Hamish Harding, and maritime explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

A seasoned maritime explorer himself, Cameron was a vocal critic of OceanGate after the tragic incident. He claimed he knew the Titanic wreck site “very well” after having made 33 dives to see it, including the 12 trips he made while directing Titanic.

The director revealed that OceanGate received several warnings from experts before the expedition.

“Many people in the community were very concerned about this sub,” he said during a broadcast appearance after the implosion was confirmed. “And a number of the top players in the deep submergence engineering community even wrote letters to the company saying what they were doing was too experimental to carry passengers and needed to be certified.”

He also compared it to the sad fate of the Titanic ship itself.

“I’m struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself, where the captain was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship and yet he steamed at full speed into an ice field on a moonless night,” he said. “For a very similar tragedy where warnings went unheeded to take place at the same exact site… I think it’s just astonishing, it’s really quite surreal.”

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