On Sunday, news broke about an OceanGate Expeditions tourist submarine headed for the wreck of the Titanic that went missing with five people aboard. Soon after, details emerged about the sub’s non-standard design that did not meet regulations, including steering apparently handled by a $30 Logitech F710 wireless PC game controller from 2010.
Reuters reports that the five-person crew of the missing vessel, known as Titan, includes Hamish Harding, a British billionaire and adventure enthusiast, and OceanGate’s founder and CEO, Stockton Rush. It disappeared on Sunday while on an expedition to explore the Titanic shipwreck site after losing contact with the Polar Prince research ship, roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes after their dive began. The submarine was last reported in the North Atlantic, approximately 900 miles east of Cape Cod, in a water body known to have a depth of about 13,000 feet. Search and rescue operations began shortly thereafter and are still underway.
According to the BBC, the entire sub is bolted shut from the outside, so even if the vessel surfaces, the occupants cannot escape without outside assistance and could suffocate within the capsule. As the potential disaster gripped social media, details about OceanGate’s history of avoiding or complaining about safety regulations emerged.
In particular, people began sharing a CBS Sunday Morning segment broadcast in November 2022 that shows reporter David Pogue visiting the Titan, which he later boarded for an expedition to the Titanic. During the CBS clip, Rush gives Pogue a tour of the sub, noting the presence of “only one button” in the entire vessel and saying that a sub “should be like an elevator.” Pogue also mentions how many pieces of the sub seem improvised, including off-the-shelf computer displays, a lighted overhead grab bar “from Camper World,” and using construction pipes as ballast. During that segment, Rush holds up a Logitech F710 Wireless controller that appears to have 3D-printed thumb-stick extensions and says, “We run the whole thing with this game controller.”
Shortly after news of the Logitech controller aboard the Titan spread on Tuesday morning, the Cheap Ass Gamer Twitter account, which regularly posts video game deals, posted an Amazon link to the Logitech F710 controller on Twitter, and the item quickly sold out.
The Titan’s construction does not inspire confidence given that it is operated using a $30 PC game controller, but the precise reason for the submarine’s absence is yet unknown. The submarine and crew are currently being sought after; once found, an investigation will probably try to ascertain what happened.
Authorities have dispatched numerous resources (such as sonar buoys and planes with underwater detecting capabilities) to help with the search operation out of concern for the lives of the people aboard. The Titan may have between 70 and 96 hours of oxygen left, according to an assessment made by the US Coast Guard on Monday afternoon.