What Business does Stockton Rush Have Wearing an N-95?


 The White Star Line was the British company who employed Irish ship makers to build RMS Titanic. In 1912 at the time of its maiden and only voyage, Titanic was following standards for lifeboats which turned out to not apply to the dimensions and passenger capacity of the ship. Those regulations were outdated, and due to the tragedy, were changed.

 However, The White Star Line decided to nix many lifeboats from the exterior of Titanic to make the ship more cosmetically appealing. Cosmetics were important aboard the Titanic--lifeboats were also removed to not clutter or obstruct views for the first-class passengers. The lack of lifeboats was the reason for such loss of life in the sinking. The captain also went full steam ahead for much of the voyage, trying to break a speed and time record. The leaders’ crucial flaw was the vanity involved in these decisions. Passengers of the Titanic were not concerned with safety after its boastful marketing and assumed prowess. It also involved misinformed or misled participants who turned into victims. 

 This sounds sort of familiar. A marine expedition where the leader is trying to break boundaries, set records, push the envelope, boasts, embellishes, and neglects passenger safety . Oceangate CEO Stockton Rush is seen here in a photo I took of my Dad's tv as a still from a documentary. There is something nefarious, iconic, poetic, and archival about a man who will go down in history as a mad scientist, who ignored pleas for reconsideration of a doomed sub, seen above wearing an N-95 mask. Rush’s decisions were also based in vanity with a tinge of greed regarding the recruitment of paying customers.

In a post 2020 world, the nonverbal act of donning a mask is a visual presumption that you care for the health and safety of others. Quite powerful irony exists in Rush sitting in that very submarine which imploded, using the video game controller as his steering wheel, and having ignored pleas to reconsider the design and execution of his project. The added element of a COVID mask raises questions on Rush's philosophy about safety.

Does he not want anyone to get sick? While he has claimed passenger safety stifles advancements and wanting to be safe as pedestrian? Does a mask keep you as safe as the submarine you're in?

 The photo of Stockton Rush's guise of public health empathy and understanding is amazing. It's a mirage of "I care about your safety" when, behind the scenes, narcissism, neglect, and greed are more accurate characteristics of captain Rush.

He is consumed with visually observing a tragic story, swimming around in its misery, being in awe of its nuances, all while paralleling the very story he is observing. An employee of Rush’s had sent a communication warning him of the dangers of non-regulated submarines, using a carbon fiber hull without non-destructive testing, and repeatedly returning to the Titanic site in the same sub, among other concerns in 2018.

Comparing the Titanic sinking in 1912 to the Oceangate Titan expedition imploding in 2023 is layered, profound, and the events have and will have a lasting effect. Titanic changed maritime regulations to prevent the same lifeboat ratio tragedy from occurring. Oceangate will open doors for rules as well, but this is where the two differ, in their legacy. Oceangate will affect deep-sea exploration but leaves us with an inserted public mistrust of wealthy risk-taking travelers and how that risk can leave a lingering distaste. One group in 1912 was presented with the idea that they were on the safest ship in the world, most of them immigrants, and that it was unsinkable. The other group, traveling for fun, not necessity, 111 years later, is trying to get an elitist porthole view of that very same disaster where safety regulations were the cause.

 Why do we feel the need to get up close and personal with loss and tragedy? Should innovation trump safety, like Stockton Rush stated?  

Is innovation “I’m going to get there, which is half of the journey” or is it essentially an "I'm obsessed with this dark historical event where thousands of people died". What can be learned or obtained from viewing the Titanic at the bottom of the ocean? Should a company be allowed to do such a thing? Those who paid $250k to view a deep-sea memorial, because of their fascination with the morbid, themselves became a spectacle of the obscure and unfathomable. The graveyard they paid to visit became their graveyard.

by Jill McFarland 


  • Anon

    Fantastic writing but please please please consider using a different font, it’s way too large to be comfortably read on mobile.

  • Danni Beltz

    Never linked the two like this. Love the analogy and very well written and enjoyable!! I hope I see more of these!!

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