Sebastian Harris, the youngest diver to visit the Titanic wreckage, recently shared his experience of briefly losing consciousness during his historic journey in 2005. Reflecting on the recent OceanGate submersible disaster, he emphasized the inherently dangerous nature of such expeditions.
At the age of 13, Sebastian, accompanied by his father, G. Michael Harris, the leader of the Titanic expedition, and a pilot, ventured to the depths of the sea. Recalling the incident, he stated, “During our dive, we encountered a small safety issue.
Suddenly, our oxygen levels started to drop, and I lost consciousness while we were descending.” Fortunately, Sebastian’s father and the pilot did not face the same problem, preventing a potentially fatal outcome. He acknowledged that these types of incidents can occur regularly and emphasized the critical importance of certification and safety measures for these vehicles.
Sebastian further highlighted the tragic OceanGate submersible incident, in which five people, including Oceangate CEO Stockton Rush, lost their lives due to the submersible imploding while attempting to reach the Titanic site. He acknowledged the inherent danger of such activities and reflected, “As a 13-year-old, I didn’t fully comprehend the risks involved. However, under different circumstances, it could have ended in tragedy.”
Sebastian and his father descended to a depth of 12,850 feet below the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean to explore the remains of the Titanic. Their 12-hour journey, conducted in a Russian Mir II submersible, earned Sebastian a Guinness World Record for his young age.
During an interview, Sebastian compared the safety measures aboard the Mir submersible he used with those absent from the OceanGate Expeditions vessel. He pointed out that the Mir had a “dog hatch” at the top, allowing two or three people to escape if needed during surface operations.
However, the Titan submersible used by OceanGate lacked such a feature, instead placing occupants in an open cylinder that was then bolted into place. Sebastian noted that this was inconsistent with submersible safety standards and would have posed significant challenges for potential rescues.
Although Sebastian’s father and colleagues faced a near-catastrophic incident when their submarine was hit by their main ship during resurfacing in rough seas, he expressed that he would not step foot on the Titan submersible. He explained, “I can’t say that I would go on it. The Mir submersible I went on had several hundred dives logged before we set off.”
Sebastian urged the industry to learn from the tragedy and emphasized that the passengers should not be blamed for such incidents.