Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) laid the blame on the US Coast Guard on Thursday after the Department of the Armed Forces said it found pieces of the lost submarine Titan on the ocean floor. Things could have turned out differently, he said, if leadership had “just acted sooner.”
Crenshaw made the comments shortly after the Coast Guard said Thursday a remote-controlled vehicle (ROV) had discovered a debris field “consistent with the catastrophic loss of its pressurization chamber.” The Wall Street Journal later reported that that the Navy had recorded sounds consistent with an explosion or implosion shortly after contact with the Titan was lost on Sunday, but a Navy official later said it would have been “irresponsible” to assume that the Titan was passengers and pilot perished.
But the Republican lawmaker claimed the international search appeared to be a case of “epic failure in leadership,” possibly extending into the White House and the upper echelons of the Coast Guard and Navy.
“I’ve heard a lot of disturbing things from people, the civilian side involved in this,” Crenshaw said in a statement to reporters on Thursday. “You know, we have to look at it, see what’s true and what’s not. … What appears to be the case is an epic failure in leadership. I don’t know where that leadership failure lies exactly. Is it the White House, the Coast Guard, the Navy? I’m not sure.”
The discovery ended an international race against time in the hope of recovering the lost ship before the oxygen supply ran out. The Titan lost contact with its mothership on Sunday about two hours after launch with five men aboard to visit the Titanic’s wreckage, about 2½ miles deep at the bottom of the North Atlantic.
Crenshaw later told Fox News on Thursday that he was concerned about the rescue’s timeline, especially amid reports of a ticking sound being picked up by search and rescue crews. The congressman said a Magellan submarine and a specialized remote-controlled vehicle should have been sent to the region immediately to find the ship more quickly.
“It’s important to note that if you had just deployed those resources, they would have been on site no later than Wednesday morning,” he said. “They’re finally deploying that ROV, the only thing capable of really going down to that depth and seeing what’s down there, this morning. It is put there and the wreckage was exactly where they thought it would be.
“So where is the failure here? The failure is not putting all your options on the table,” he added.
Crenshaw further questioned whether the Coast Guard had acted on the Navy’s assumption that the ship had imploded rather than purely as a rescue effort.
“It begs the question: Could this have been resolved differently if leadership had just acted sooner and actually put options on the table instead of just assuming, well, it doesn’t matter because they’re dead?” he said.
OceanGate Expeditions, the company that owned the Titan, released a statement Thursday calling those on board, including the company’s CEO, “true explorers with a distinctly adventurous spirit.”
“Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their family at this tragic time,” the company said. OceanGate said Thursday it would not provide any other comment on the incident.