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The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper

Deadly Adventure, Trip to the Titanic. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 02, 2023 - 20:00   ET



KAYE: Approved by any regulatory body.

COHEN: It's basically the Wild West out there. There is little to no government regulation.


Thank you for joining me this evening. I'm Paula Reid. Good night.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the WHOLE STORY. I'm Anderson Cooper in St. John's, Newfoundland.

The Titan set out from here traveling more than 400 miles to the site of the Titanic for what was supposed to be a 10-hour journey two miles below the ocean surface to explore the wreckage. There were five people on board, three of them paying customers. Less than two hours after they began their descent the Titan stopped communicating with its parent ship on the surface.

The U.S. Navy detected a sound that could have been an implosion in the area where Titan was diving and reportedly forwarded that information to the incident commander. But that information was not released publicly. If the Titan was still intact, rescuers needed to find it quickly because it only had up to 96 hours of oxygen on board.

Over the next hour, CNN's Randi Kaye takes us step by step through the intense five-day search for the missing submersible and tells us everything we need to know about what happened to the Titan and its passengers, the risk of going so far down into the ocean, and the warnings that had been raised about the Titan submersible.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Just into CNN, a deep-sea search and rescue mission with life-or-death consequences. There was a rush to find a submersible that ferries people to the wreckage the Titanic.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The United States and Canadian coast guards have launched an all-out search with planes, with ships and with buoys equipped with sonar.

ALYSON CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Crews searching have heard banging sounds. JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Time is simply just not on

their side.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news into CNN. The U.S. Coast Guard says a debris field has been covered on the sea floor.

REAR ADM. JOHN MAUGER, U.S. COAST GUARD: I offer my deepest condolences to the families, and I hope that this discovery provides some solace during this difficult time.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a trip to the bottom of the ocean that was advertised as safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OceanGate expeditions offers you the once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to be a specially trained crew member safely diving to the Titanic wreckage site.

KAYE: The chance to travel to the site of a storied 100-year-old disaster would be just the type of opportunity billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding couldn't pass up.

RICHARD WIESE, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, THE EXPLORERS CLUB: This guy had such a zest for life. I climbed Kilimanjaro with him. I know that he had gone to the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on earth in a submersible.


KAYE: And he gone to space as part of Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin project.

HARDING: This place was amazing. I loved it.

KAYE: On Saturday, June 17th, the 58-year-old Brit posted on Instagram, "I am proud to finally announce that I joined OceanGate expeditions for their RMS Titanic as a mission specialist on the sub going down to the Titanic. We are going to attempt a dive tomorrow."

STOCKTON RUSH, OCEANGATE CEO: There are five individuals can go on each dive. Three of those are what we call mission specialists. So those are the folks who help finance the mission but they are also active participants.

KAYE: That is Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate, as well as the developer and the pilot of the Titan submersible.

RUSH: With this I thee Christen Titan.


KAYE: Hamish paid OceanGate a quarter million dollars for the trip that began in St. John's, Newfoundland. There he boarded the Polar Prince, the Titan's mothership, along with other would-be mission specialists for a 36-hour trip to the dive site. Dive day, June 18th, would have started early.

AARON NEWMAN, FORMER PASSENGER ON OCEANGATE EXPEDITION IN 2021: You're going to get up at 6:00 in the morning, maybe even 5:00 in the morning. You're going to kind of do a check-in and a briefing.

KAYE: Aaron Newman, an OceanGate investor and passenger, traveled on Titan in 2021.

NEWMAN: You're on deck and you have a hardhat on, a jumpsuit, an orange vest. And the crew would start loading in and would get into the submersible.

DAVID POGUE, CBS "SUNDAY MORNING" CORRESPONDENT: On the outside the Titan doesn't look like any submersible that's come before it. Most of them are spheres. This thing looks like a giant white capsule. It's 22-feet long, you know, like a pharmaceutical capsule.


Imagine a cylindrical minivan with no seats. It looks really cool inside. There is no dashboard. There is no cockpit.

That's the last we'll be seeing of land for eight days.

KAYE: Journalist David Pogue was covering OceanGate for the "CBS Sunday Morning" show and was scheduled to ride in the Titan last year but his dive was canceled after failing to pass a routine prelaunch inspection.

POGUE: I was taken aback by some of these features which did not seem like NASA sophistication. I mean, it starts with the Xbox video game controller that he used to drive the ship. You know, a $29 plastic thing.

RUSH: We run the whole thing with this game controller.


POGUE: Come on.

He did thrive on using cheap effective techniques instead of reinventing the wheel, and when I confronted him about this.

It seems like this submersible has some elements of MacGyvery, jerry- riggedness.

RUSH: I don't know if I'd use that description of it.

POGUE: His answer was those are just bells and whistles. The part you care about is the pressure vessel.

RUSH: The pressure vessel is not MacGyvered at all. Everything else can fail. But your thrusters can go. Your lights can go. You're still going to be safe.

JOSH GATES, HOST, DISCOVERY CHANNEL'S "EXPEDITION UNKNOWN": When you board Titan you go out on to this floating sled.

KAYE: Josh Gates, host of Discovery's "Expedition Unknown," had concerns about the Titan. He declined to dive to the Titanic with OceanGate after he says the Titan failed to perform well during a test ride in 2021.

GATES: You get inside, you sit down on the floor of Titan. They close this big heavy door and they bolt it shut from the outside. So once you are in Titan, somebody has to let you out of the sub from the outside.

POGUE: You're going to be there for hours before the dive begins because it's like a rocket launch. There is a thousand checklists asking each department, are you a go for launch? Are you a go for launch?

KAYE: On Sunday morning, June 18th at 8:00 a.m. Titan was a go for launch.

POGUE: Motor boats tell you down the ramp on the back of the ship and into the water. You're on this floating platform which they now submerge. So it goes 35 feet under the water and then divers come and unbolt you from the platform, and away the sub goes.

GATES: All of the subs that have been built to go down to Titanic are welded together and made of titanium or steel alloy. And Titan is built much differently. Titan is built with carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is this miraculous space-age polymer, it's what we're using to build the next generation of aircraft. One of the concerns about carbon fire, though, is how it performs over time. You know, how does it fatigue? How does it deal with these pressure cycles going back and forth?

PER WIMMER, ASTRONAUT, GLOBAL FINANCIER, PHILANTHROPIST AND AUTHOR: And just to give you an idea about what kind of pressures we are talking about, it would be about 380 atmosphere. An enormous amount of pressure. Right here where I'm sitting there's one atmosphere. So 380 times that pressure.

KAYE: And according to Arnie Weissmann, whose May dive was canceled for weather, that pressure was on material that Stockton Rush told him couldn't be used for an airplane.

ARNIE WEISSMANN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, TRAVEL WEEKLY: He said I got a great deal on the carbon fiber because it had expired its sell by date and so he said Boeing sold to me at a great price. He was very proud of that, that he had gotten such a good deal.

KAYE: Up until 9:45 a.m. on Sunday, June 18th, everything seemed to be going smoothly with the Titan dive.

POGUE: They would have been about two-thirds of the way down.

KAYE: There is no GPS on board Titan. The mother ship does the navigating. Information and directions are shared using simple texts.

POGUE: There are two communications signals that the sub has with the ship. One is these text messages and then there's also this safety thing every 15 minutes just to show that it's alive and well. And they both stopped at 9:45. KAYE: Eight hours later, OceanGate first told the coast guard that

their Titan submersible was missing. Around the same time, Arnie Weissmann reached out to Hamish Harding.

WEISSMANN: I am in a WhatsApp chatgroup and I knew he was in it. So I said, hey, you know, Hamish, how is the dive? And someone who is close to him responded and said that they lost communications with the sub an hour and 45 minutes in. We're very scared.

DAVID GALLO, SENIOR ADVISER FOR STRATEGIC INITIATIVES AND SPECIAL PROJECTS, TITANIC INC.: I was organizing some paperwork when a friend called and said turn on the news right away.


And I knew that my good friend, colleague, fellow explorer P.H. Nargeolet, he was on board that expedition. But I didn't know if he was one of the people in the submarine.

KAYE: This is Paul-Henri Nargeolet, or P.H. as he preferred to be called, in an OceanGate promotional video.

COMMANDER PAUL-HENRI NARGEOLET, "TITANIC GREATEST EXPLORER", 30 PLUS MISSIONS: The sub for me, it's very well done because it's simple.

GALLO: Then we found out that P.H. Nargeolet was in the sub. A veteran explorer. In France they called him Mr. Titanic. And he told me more than once this sub is safe.

KAYE: In addition to P.H., Stockton Rush was among the missing, as was Hamish Harding. Also on board a British citizen from one of Pakistan's wealthiest families, Shahzada Dawood. He had brought his 19-year-old son Suleman along for the adventure.

Up next, a massive search of a massive stretch of ocean.

CAPT. BOBBIE SCHOLLEY (RET.), FORMER U.S. NAVY DIVING AND SALVAGE OFFICER: It absolutely is a needle in a haystack.


BASH: Just into CNN, a deep-sea search and rescue mission with life- or-death consequences. Right now there is a rush to find a submersible that ferries people to the wreckage of the Titanic.

KAYE: Monday, June 19th. Just over 24 hours since losing contact with its mothership.

MAUGER: Yesterday afternoon we were notified by the operator of the submersible vessel that it was overdue and it had five persons on board the submersible. So we're working very closely at this point to make sure that we're doing everything that we can do to locate the submersible and rescue those on board.

KAYE: The world learns about the missing Titan submersible. OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We know that several

ships had left St. John's in Newfoundland to head to that area. This is about 380 nautical miles from the Newfoundland coast where the submersible has gone missing.

KAYE: Soon an unprecedented international search and rescue mission is launched.

LIEBERMANN: Then it was a question of what assets are useful and how quickly can you deploy them.


Some of the first assets deployed were aircraft. The Canadian coast guard and the U.S. used C-130 Hercules, a four-engine long range, long endurance aircraft. At the beginning there was the possibility that the Titan submersible was floating on top of the water, that it had dropped its ballast and that it was floating.

KAYE: Those ballast systems were key safety features of the Titan submersible. Designed to bring the vessel back up to the surface at any sign of trouble.

NEWMAN: Even if a crew is incapacitated, even if one system fails, there should be backup systems. They showed us how to do this, right? For instance, the first way is just to rock the sub a little bit and the weights will fall off themselves.

KAYE: Aaron Newman recalls the crew training him and other passengers for his 2021 mission.

NEWMAN: Wow. We're underwater.

When you're going to these depths to places that so little can be done, you usually are expected to rescue yourself. There is a backup system, for instance, just a mechanical pneumatic lever that if you pulled, would drop the weights. And finally there is a necklace that has a link that's designed to dissolve in saltwater after 24 hours. The sub would be in positive buoyancy and float back to the top.

KAYE: That's why those early hours were so focused on scanning the surface of the ocean.

LIEBERMANN: Even if it's right on top of the water, you're looking in an area the size of Connecticut for something the size of a minivan.

POGUE: One of the possibilities was that it was at the surface somewhere bobbing away. That was the horror show scenario because you're bolted in from the outside. You would be looking out the porthole at the air you need and unable to reach it.

KAYE: As the U.S. Coast Guard held its first press conference on the missing sub, there was one crucial countdown on the clock. Up to 96 hours of oxygen according to OceanGate.

MAUGER: We anticipate that there is somewhere between 70 to the full 96 hours available at this point.

POGUE: The 96 hours of oxygen is a measurement produced by OceanGate, but to my knowledge there is no way to measure that.


I'm sure they never put five people into the sub at Titanic depth and have them sit there for four days to test when the air ran out.

KAYE: Some said the 96-hour count was too high, not accounting for panic or the carbon dioxide in the air. But other experts thought that maybe the crew could find a way to extend it.

SCHOLLEY: If you are a scuba diver, that same sized scuba tank may last me at the same depth an hour and 15 minutes, and it may last my husband only 45 minutes because he may be breathing more or working harder. So, you know, the same amount of oxygen may last longer for one person and less for another. The same holds true on the submersible.

KAYE: That's retired Navy captain Bobbie Scholley. She is a former diving and salvage officer.

SCHOLLEY: I still remained hopeful because in my experience and with my knowledge we did have that capability even at that depth to recover the submersible.

KAYE: Far deeper than some of the tallest manmade structures in the world, and even dwarfing natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, the Titanic sat at more than 12,500 feet below the surface.

POGUE: You got to realize how far down 13,000 feet is. The deepest submarine rescue in history was 1500 feet below the surface. This was 13,000 feet below the surface. I mean, it's way farther.

KAYE: But even with those odds, experts, equipment, and resources poured in from all over the world.

WIMMER: I have never seen the scale and the size and the speed of so many assets being deployed so quickly.

SCHOLLEY: The different ships with their ROVs, with their installed sonars, these were coming from militaries, from the commercial side, different countries.

LIEBERMANN: They brought in P-8 Poseidons and then P-3s. These are both anti-submarine warfare aircraft. If you drop a series of sonobuoys in the water and these sonobuoys detect activity, and different sonobuoys pick up on it, you can use that detection to triangulate exactly where that activity is.


SCHOLLEY: I have been on a lot of salvage operations and it absolutely is a needle in the haystack. But you use all your resources and you use all this amazing data, whether it's the oceanographers that tell you what the prevailing currents are, whether it's the sonobuoys, all of that different information is chipping away at that haystack. And the smaller that haystack gets, the easier it is to find that little needle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The surface search is now approximately two times the size of Connecticut and subsurface search is up to two and a half miles deep.

LIEBERMANN: One of the key questions is, once you've found what you were looking for, how do you bring it up?

SCHOLLEY: One of the resources that was sent to the scene was the U.S. Navy's flyaway deep ocean salvage system. It was designed to lift from that depth of water.

LIEBERMANN: It is an incredibly capable system but one that takes time to set up. It was most recently used to pull an FA-18 fighter jet off the bottom of the Med in July 2022.

KAYE: As the Navy scrambled to get its deep-sea recovery system in place, another kind of high-tech tool would soon uncover key clues.

LIEBERMANN: The most capable assets are the remotely operated vehicles. Essentially mini submersibles controlled through cables and controlled from the surface that can really put eyes on the bottom of the water using advanced video cameras to really get a look at what's down there and see, hey, are we just looking at more Titanic debris or are we finding a submersible. The arrival of the remotely operated vehicles changed the game.

KAYE: Up next --

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Sonar picked up banging sounds every 30 minutes. This is giving new hope that the five people on board might still be alive.

KAYE: And grave scientific concerns long before the Titan went missing.



KAYE: Wednesday, 4:30 a.m.

CAMEROTA: There is a new development in the past hour. Crews searching for the sub reportedly heard today banging sounds at 30-minute intervals.

KAYE: As the massive search for the Titan stretched into its third day, sonar picked up banging sounds from underneath the ocean waters.

WIMMER: That is a piece of good news. That is fantastic. Because what that means is they are down there. They are alive.

KAYE: 7:00 a.m. Eastern. MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If they are alive, they only have

about maybe 24 hours left of air.

WEISSMANN: A sign of hope, but also the clock was ticking this whole time. The amount of oxygen that they had, the life support, was going to expire.

KAYE: The disappearance of Titan and the race against time to find it put OceanGate and its CEO under intense scrutiny.

RISH: I think it was General McArthur who said you are remembered for the rules you break, and, you know, I have broken some rules to make this. I think I have broken them with logic and good engineering behind me.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He describes himself as a maverick, somebody who proudly said he wanted to innovate. That is part of why he created this carbon fiber vessel that was controversial in the industry, but he was confident was safe.

RACHEL LANCE, BIOMEDICAL ENGINEER, DUKE CENTER FOR HYPERBARIC MEDICINE AND ENVIRONMENTAL PHYSIOLOGY: The construction of this particular sub was immediately a large red flag to me, especially the choice of materials used for the pressure-proof portions of the hull. Specifically that use of carbon fiber was something that I personally considered alarming because in the past putting them into saltwater has resulted in what we call delamination, which is a separation of those layers. And it's the bonding of those layers that really gives those materials their strength.

COHEN: A lot of experts have raised concerns in recent days about the carbon fiber hull, which was, frankly, an innovation that Stockton Rush was very proud of.

RUSH: We know more about what's happening in this hull than anyone has ever known. This will be one of the great moments of submersibles in that this technology is what we need to explore the ocean depth.

COHEN: We also learned about two former OceanGate employees who had raised concerns about Titan's hull and how safe it really was. One of them in a counter lawsuit claimed that OceanGate really hadn't gone through enough testing and another former employee told CNN on the condition of anonymity that they were concerned when the hull arrived and was only five inches thick rather than seven inches thick as they say they had been assured by the company.


JAMES CAMERON, EXPERT DIVER, "TITANIC" FILM DIRECTOR: We always understood that this was the wrong material for submersible hulls because with each pressure cycle you can have progressive damage.

KAYE: Expert diver and "Titanic" film director James Cameron slammed OceanGate for not certifying the vessel.

CAMERON: Even in my own sub, which had a steel hull, I knew that if I dove several two, three times, it was probably good to go because you could cycle steel hundreds of times if not thousands of times. But that's not the case with composites. So it's quite insidious and that I think lulled them into a sense of confidence and led to this tragedy.

KAYE: Will Conan heads the submersible committee of the Marine Technology Society. In 2018, he wrote a letter on behalf of himself and more than three dozen people, including deep sea explorers and oceanographers warning its CEO, Rush, that the company's experimental approach and its decision to forego a traditional assessment could lead to potentially catastrophic problems with the Titanic mission. He says he spoke to Rush and voiced those concerns.

WILL CONAN, MARINE TECHNOLOGY SOCIETY: We agreed to disagree. And many of us do feel that it may have been preventable if the vehicle had been certified.

COHEN: Stockton rush cleaned up a little of the language on his Web site to really make it clear that this was an experimental vessel that had not gone through testing with those industry groups. Conan told me he and many of his colleagues in this industry have been left in recent days wondering what more could they have done and what more should they have done.

KAYE: OceanGate has repeatedly declined comment on its safety record. There were even more red flags over safety issues before Titan went missing. Submersible expert Karl Stanley.

KARL STANLEY, SUBMERSIBLE EXPERT: I did the second deep dive in Titan. He warned us all ahead time that it was going to be making cracking sounds. It was quite loud. I mean, we're talking about five inches of carbon fiber with bands popping under literally a million plus tons of pressure.

KAYE: Stanley urged Rush to put off his next dive.

STANLEY: It obviously had an impact on him. He delayed diving an entire year. He built an entirely new carbon fiber tube.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OceanGate Expeditions --

KAYE: The company and its CEO touted its commitment to safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Safely diving to the Titanic wreckage site.

RUSH: There are certain things that you want to be buttoned down so the pressure vessel is not MacGyvered at all because that's what we worked with Boeing and NASA and the University of Washington.

COHEN: Stockton Rush as part of his proof of concept of how safe these vessels were, he really touted partnerships. He talked about their partnership with NASA and with Boeing, and with the University of Washington, but now we are seeing those partners start to distance themselves from OceanGate.

The University of Washington and Boeing have both come out and firmly said they were not partners on OceanGate, that there was very limited involvement. The University of Washington has said that OceanGate used some of their tank space, but their researchers were not actually involved in this and that they didn't approve any sort of materials or proof of concept. And Boeing echoed that saying that they also were not a partner with OceanGate on this.

KAYE: NASA told CNN it consulted on materials and manufacturing processes, but did not conduct testing and manufacturing or any approvals. Titan was not certified by an independent firm. And after a test dive in the Bahamas, OceanGate publicly raised the name of one of those certifications companies saying the dive was validated by a representative from Lloyd's Register.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Lloyd's tells CNN it declined a request to certify Titan after observing the dive and did not go on to class the installation. Even with these many safety concerns, there are people in the industry who stand behind Rush.

NEWMAN: I never had any concerns or worries. We spent days at the top talking about everything from safety protocols to the engineering of the sub, the testing they went through.

KAYE: Josh Gates had a different experience on his Titan dive with Rush.

GATES: My observations when I was there is that this was a kind of barebones operation, that this was a company that was inventing the technology that it was deploying as it went, you know. That this was kind of happening, all happening for them in real time.

KAYE: Tourists who pay $250,000 to descend almost 13,000 feet below sea level to view the wreck of the Titanic must sign a waiver saying they accept the submersible is not approved by any regulatory body.

COHEN: It's basically the Wild West out there.


There is little to no government regulation, and that is why some of these industry specialists were so worried because they felt others in the industry were really following the same standards and that Stockton Rush was breaking away from that, and they think ultimately that may have been his downfall.

KAYE: Thursday, 7:00 a.m.

HARLOW: At this point it's feared the five people on board may have little to no breathable air.

KAYE: The missing vessel remained a mystery even as the search intensified. But why do people take the risk and pay so much money to view the wreckage from a ship that sunk in 1912?


[20:40:26] KAYE: Even before the moment she pushed away from shipyard in Belfast, the public was enthralled with the RMS Titanic. A feat of engineering at the time.

DR. JOE MACINNIS, TITANIC EXPERT, SCIENTIST AND UNDERSEA EXPLORER: The largest moving object ever created by human hands in 1912.

KAYE: Touted as the most luxurious liner at sea, it had first class dining rooms, a pool, and even a gym.

TIM MALTIN, TITANIC EXPERT AND HISTORIAN: Even for third-class passengers she was extremely luxurious because the third class would not have had hot and cold running water in their own homes but they had it on Titanic. So every class felt extremely special.

KAYE: It was believed to be unsinkable. But then came that fateful cold April night in 1912. When the Titanic on its maiden journey across the North Atlantic collided with an iceberg. Questionable crew training and a lack of lifeboats ensured disaster, and the ship sank.

MACINNIS: She struck the iceberg and down she went, and the unsinkable was, in fact, very sinkable.

KAYE: More than 1500 people on board perished. Many among the crew and third-class passengers, but also a bevy of upper class celebrities, like millionaire John Jacob Aster IV, Benjamin Guggenheim and Isidor Straus, co-owner of Macy's, and his wife Ida.

CRAIG SOPIN, TITANIC HISTORIAN AND TRUSTEE OF TITANIC INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY: What separates Titanic apart from many other disasters at sea is that the people in each class were treated very differently. The fact that the band played until the end, the captain went down with the ship, all of this is the lure of Titanic.

MALTIN: As soon as Titanic" had sunk, people were planning to find it.

KAYE: For more than 70 years the exact whereabouts of the shipwreck remained a mystery until 1985.

DR. ROBERT BALLARD, TITANIC DISCOVERER: I'm an undersea explorer and the Titanic is one of those Mount Everests that had not been scaled.

KAYE: Oceanographer and U.S. commander Robert Ballard had been trying to pull together funding to use an underwater rover to find the Titanic. The Navy was interested, but under one condition. Ballard had to engage in a top-secret mission. They wanted him to find two submarines, the USS Scorpion and the USS Thresher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was in April of 1963 that the Thresher made her last dive.

KAYE: Both sank in the 1960s with nuclear reactors on board. In order to avoid Russian detection, Ballard suggested they use a search for the Titanic as a cover and a deal was made.

LIEBERMANN: They basically told him, after you have found these subs, after you do what you need to do for us, go see if you can find the Titanic.

KAYE: Ballard had only 12 days to do it. But he had an idea.

BALLARD: It really came from our explorations of the Scorpion and the Thresher. As I mapped them, I realized that when these ships break up and they began falling towards the ocean floor, they're scattered by the currents. The key was not to look for the Titanic. Don't look for it. Look for the debris that comes off of it.

KAYE: September 1st, 1985, Robert Ballard made the discovery of a lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The approaching cameras penetrated the gloom two and a half miles under water to reveal the ship's deck.

BALLARD: Naturally, we were excited at the very beginning but then someone in the control room looked at the clock and said you know the Titanic sinks in 20 minutes and we went from this elation and excitement to embarrassment that we were excited and we got very depressed, actually, because we felt the sense of the disaster and we realized we were at the very spot where it took place.

MALTIN: It was an absolutely earth-shattering huge discovery.

KAYE: Ballard returned in 1986 capturing extraordinary imagery of among other things the grand staircase with a light fixture still hanging. Over the next 30 years, various expeditions ventured to the Titanic's resting place. It is the most famous shipwreck in history and those who could afford it could see it for themselves.


MACINNIS: As time went by, there were expeditions that would conduct science and tourism together, and the money allowed the science to be done.

KAYE: Then two years ago OceanGate.

MALTIN: OceanGate was the first company to establish a regular shuttle, if you like, of multiple numbers of paying passengers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The OceanGate Titanic experience. Earning raves from those who've taken our unforgettable dives.

KAYE: It was an exclusive opportunity because fewer than 250 people have ever been to see it.

WIESE: Why do people want to see the Titanic? It's a privilege. It's the same reason you want to see the Roman Colosseum or you want to see the pyramids of Egypt.

GATES: There is a heated debate about whether we should be going down to Titanic at all. And that debate is really fueled by two different things. One is a question of risk and the other is just a question of the wreck itself. Should it be left alone and should it be unmolested and left to the depths. It is a grave for 1500 people. KAYE: Hollywood has been feeding that interest for a century with

dozens of books written and films made about the disaster, including 1953's "Titanic." 1958's "A Night to Remember."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iceberg, dead ahead, sir.

KAYE: But no one had a bigger impact on the ship's place in the cultural zeitgeist than James Cameron's epic 1997 saga "Titanic."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iceberg run ahead.

KAYE: The Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio film was a blockbuster eventually earning more than $2 billion over the last 25 years.

MALTIN: James Cameron really brought Titanic to life in color to a young audience.

KAYE: The money-making business of Titanic didn't end there. There have been traveling exhibitions around the world. Museums in Belfast and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. And even a cologne named after the Titanic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. You can now own the sweet smell of the doomed vessel.

BALLARD: It's amazing to me how every generation rediscovers the Titanic.

KAYE: There seems to be no end to interest in Titanic but why is there such a fascination?

MACINNIS: It leads to the questions of courage and cowardice, and how would we behave if we were caught in a situation like that.

KAYE: Survivor Eva Hart, who was 7 years old at the time of the disaster, said she believes the reason we're still fascinated with the wreckage is that it was an avoidable situation. No one needed to die.

EVA HART, SURVIVOR OF RMS TITANIC SINKING: If we had had enough lifeboats, no one would have died that night. Had it been a nine-day (INAUDIBLE), the ship sank on its main voyage, it didn't. Nobody died, and that would have been that. And here we are all these years after, but the whole world still interested in the Titanic.

KAYE: This continuing interest is why vessels like the Titan would take paying passengers two miles down into the ocean to explore the wreckage.

CAMERON: I think we're seeing a parallel here with unheeded warnings. The Titanic sank because the captain took it full steam into an ice field at night on a moonless night with very poor visibility after he had been repeatedly warned that that's what was ahead of him.

MALTIN: I think what draws the public to be obsessed with the Titanic is all those stories of bravery, heroism. BALLARD: Never forget when the Strauses went to get in the lifeboat.

She got in. He went to get in and the crew member says, no, no, men can't come in. She got out. She says, where he goes, I go, and she perished with him. I mean, you couldn't come up with a more dramatic writing than the reality of the sinking of the Titanic.

KAYE: But what led to yet another tragedy surrounding the Titanic? And what does the loss of the Titan sub mean for the future of extreme tourism?

TOM MADDOX, CEO AND FOUNDER, UNDERWATER FORENSIC INVESTIGATORS: If something goes wrong on a Titanic expedition, there is always the possibility that you won't come back.



SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, it's a race against time to rescue the five men on the missing submersible somewhere in the North Atlantic, as oxygen on the vehicle is quickly running out.

KAYE: It's Thursday morning, five days into the search for the missing crew of the submersible Titan and time is everything.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: At this hour, the massive search for a missing sub in the North Atlantic Ocean has reached a critical point.

KAYE: Leads go nowhere, and that banging noise heard earlier in the week grows silent. The critical point was about to get worse.

SIDNER: Breaking news at this moment. We have just gotten some information from the Coast Guard. They're saying that a debris field has been found in the search area by an ROV near the Titanic.

MARQUEZ: There's great concern with this latest news. It doesn't feel good at the moment. They know what debris is down there. They know what other missions have left behind. They know what the Titanic looks like down there. So they must have seen something that was different.

KAYE: What they saw convinced OceanGate to release a statement, that its crew aboard Titan was gone.

"We now believe that our CEO, Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet have sadly been lost."


U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger confirmed the worst.

MAUGER: An ROV or remote operated vehicle from the vessel Horizon Arctic discovered the tail cone of the Titan submersible approximately 1600 feet from the bow of the Titanic on the sea floor. The debris is consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber. KAYE: The U.S. Navy now says the sound they detected in the Atlantic

Ocean just hours after the Titan began its descent on Monday was consistent with an implosion.

LANCE: The discovery and disclosure of the debris field came almost as a relief. An implosion event would be extremely quick. It would last less than a second, and the people inside very likely didn't even have time to feel afraid.

KAYE: The announcement sent shockwaves through the tightknit deep sea community. The search and rescue was now a search and recovery mission for a vessel that, in the eyes of some experts, never should have been in the water.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Captain, first, how are you processing this news?

CAPT. ALFRED MCLAREN (RET.), U.S. NAVY CAPTAIN: Well, Alex, I'm heart sick for the people on board and what they suffered but also for the families. And I'm angry as hell because this thing should never have happened. Through the last several years, anybody who's asked me, I'd advised them not to make a dive on that. The technology was too risky.

KAYE: Now it will be up to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the U.S. Coast Guard to lead the investigation. They say this investigation will take time. It's too early to tell if the construction of the sub had anything to do with the implosion.

LIEBERMANN: This is something the size of a minivan that broke into at least five pieces. What do you try to salvage?

LANCE: The spread of the debris field can tell us a bit about how far the submarine made it down into the water column before the implosion occurred.

LIEBERMANN: Before they try to salvage or recover something, it would involve very difficult conversations with the loved ones of the five people who perished that far under water.

KAYE: And for the future of deep sea exploration, the horror and hubris of this tragic event came with a haunting message.

MADDOX: Are these expeditions worth it? When it comes to survivability, if something goes wrong on a Titanic expedition, there is always the possibility that you won't come back.

WIMMER: It is sobering when you see something go wrong. You do reflect a bit further about it.

COHEN: I think that's going to be a process that plays out not just in the coming days or weeks or months, even years.

GATES: The loss of Titanic spurred real maritime change in terms of safety and regulations. And I think the loss of Titan is going to do the same.

WIMMER: We cannot stop the quest for exploration because that's how we advance as human society, as a civilization.

CAMERON: These are serious people with serious curiosity willing to put serious money down to go to these interesting places. And I don't want to discourage that. But I think now that our worst fears have happened and we know why it happened, I think largely, you know, it puts us now on even more alert to be disciplined and to really think about the ethics of it.

WEISSMANN: Explorers have the curiosity about what's around that corner, what's over that mountain, what's around that side. Seeing something that you wouldn't otherwise see, and they're frankly -- there's probably a bit of a thrill to think you're one of the few people who've seen it. So at root is curiosity as well as satisfaction from accomplishment that can be very intense.

KAYE: For retired Navy Captain Bobbie Scholley, it's always been about the family.

SCHOLLEY: When we do these really hard operations like this, it is emotionally difficult. And even though we have the family members always in the back of our heads, we try not to think about that until the mission is complete. And then -- there's just not something that you can give back to the families. No matter how hard you try, there's just nothing that you can give back.


COOPER: The Coast Guard has called the investigation into what happened incredibly complex and said it'll take time to determine what went wrong on board.

Thanks for watching THE WHOLE STORY. I hope to see you next time.