Missing submarine near the Titanic: How a lack of safety rules and a cheap joystick can lead to tragedy

Sunday, February 27, proved fatal for the OceanGate Expeditions expedition that set out to explore the sinking of the Titanic. Five people, including British billionaire and adventurer Hamish Harding and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, disappeared during the expedition. Their tourist bathyscaphe, known as the Titan, was equipped with non-standard steering controls, which were carried out using a cheap Logitech F710 PC game controller for $30 (2,500 rubles).

Search operations are still underway, but hope for the crew’s salvation is diminishing with each passing day. How could this happen? What safety rules were violated, and how could a cheap joystick lead to a tragedy? Let’s find out.

Substandard steering

According to Stockton Rush, who gave a tour of the submarine to a CBS reporter in November 2022, the Titan was equipped with only one button and was controlled by a Logitech F710 game controller. The controller was connected to a computer aboard the submarine, which was used to control the engine and the steering gear.

It is a safety violation to use a non-standard steering control. Normally, submarines are equipped with special steering devices that guarantee reliable steering and passenger safety. In the case of the Titan, however, there were no such devices.

Cheap joystick

The Logitech F710 game controller, which was used to control the Titan, costs only $30 (2,500 rubles). It is a cheap joystick for PCs that is not designed for use in submarines or other technically sophisticated devices.

The Logitech F710 controller has a wireless connection to a computer and works up to 10 meters away. In an underwater expedition such a joystick can be unreliable, which can lead to dangerous situations.

Failure to observe safety precautions

The company OceanGate, which organized the expedition to the Titanic, ignored safety rules. In particular, the submarine was bolted from the outside, which could lead to passengers not being able to escape unaided and could suffocate in the capsule.

In addition, the submarine was equipped with substandard steering controls and a cheap joystick, which is a violation of safety regulations. This approach made the expedition risky and life-threatening for the passengers.

The disappearance of the OceanGate Expeditions touring bathyscaphe is a reminder of how important it is to follow safety rules when conducting expeditions and when using technically complex devices. Substandard steering and cheap joystick can lead to tragedy, so it is necessary to follow the rules and use only reliable equipment.

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