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2023 Submarine Imploded Underwater Due to Pressure and Materials

By: Sammy Wang

On June 18, 2023, 5 billionaires Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood, Suleman Dawood, Stockton Rush, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet were on board an unauthorized submarine, the Titan, trying to observe the Titanic underwater. Despite warnings from authorities and engineers of how dangerous the Titan trip was, they went anyway, and it imploded shortly after, causing their deaths.

Stockton Rush, the Co-founder, and CEO of OceanGate (the private company that built the submarine), founded the company, said that he wanted to create a ship that could go near the Titanic after realizing the money he could make from bringing tourists underwater to see and observe the shipwreck.

“There's only one wreck that everyone knows ... If you ask people to name something underwater, it's going to be sharks, whales, Titanic", Rush said in the Smithsonian magazine

In 2023, Rush finished building the Titan and set plans for it to go underwater with four people. He demanded that they sign a waiver and pay $250,000 to get on. Surprisingly they agreed even though the submarine was controlled by a game controller and had little to no space to sit in.

Continuing with the design of the Titan, Rush revealed in an interview that he broke some rules to make the Titan.

“I’ve broken some rules to make this,” Rush said. “I think I’ve broken them with logic and good engineering behind me, the carbon fiber and titanium. There’s a rule you don’t do that. Well, I did.”

Carbon fiber and titanium are known for their strength but also their weakness underwater. Carbon fiber has been repeatedly proven not to be able to handle extreme water pressure, and titanium is known to become weaker in water. These material choices were what made the Titan an unauthorized and dangerous submarine.

The Titan also experienced something called galvanic corrosion. Galvanic corrosion occurs when different metals are in contact with one another and in an electrolyte (a liquid or gel that contains ions) such as seawater. Electric currents flow throughout the metals, which damages them.

When the electric currents damaged the metals, it caused the Titan to implode, which was instant death for the passengers.

Hopefully, people in the future learn from this incident and be more cautious before putting themselves in dangerous situations.


TikTok: Interesting Engineering

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