A multi-millionaire thrill-seeker who was supposed to be on the missing Titanic sub said he pulled out over fears it was “cutting too many corners” — and was run with a $40 videogame controller.
Digital marketing tycoon Chris Brown, 61, told The Sun that he paid a $10,000 deposit for the trip along with his friend Hamish Harding, the 58-year-old British billionaire who is among the five still missing.
But he grew alarmed when he saw how OceanGate’s 21-foot Titan submersible was made up of off-the-shelf components.
“I found out they used old scaffolding poles for the sub’s ballast — and its controls were based on computer game-style controllers,” the shocked would-be explorer told the UK paper.
OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush — the pilot also among the missing — previously showed off that controller to a shocked CBS News reporter in a concerning clip that has gone viral.
The gray device appeared to be a Logitech G Wireless Gamepad F710, a third-party device released in 2010 and now sells for $40 or less.
“Eventually I emailed them and said, ‘I’m no longer able to go on this thing,’” Brown told The Sun, fearing OceanGate was “cutting too many corners.”
“I asked for a refund after being less than convinced.”
Brown said he and Harding agreed to go on the Titanic voyage after having a “few beers” while partying on Sir Richard Branson’s private Necker Island in 2016.
They both paid a 10% deposit on the trip, which was then charging $100,000 but has since risen to $250,000.
“I was one of the first people to sign up for this trip with OceanGate while the submersible was being developed,” Brown said of his aborted mission to see the wreckage of the Titanic 2.4 miles below sea level.
He followed the Titan’s progress, growing alarmed at aborted missions and missed targets for the submersible, which has been missing since Sunday.
He “decided the risks were too high in this instance, even though I’m not one to shy away from risk.”
Now, he is forced to wait as rescuers race against the clock to find the Titan, which only has enough oxygen to last until Thursday morning at most.
Rescuers have been racing against the clock because even under the best of circumstances the vessel could run out of oxygen by Thursday morning.
Late Tuesday, a Canadian airplane aiding in the search detected “banging” every 30 minutes in the area, raising hopes of finding the sub, which is also carrying French Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet as well as businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman.
If successful, it would be the deepest recovery mission in history.
“I feel really upset about Hamish,” Brown told The Sun of the billionaire he first met on a 2016 trek to the South Pole alongside space pioneer Buzz Aldrin.
“One thing’s for certain, Hamish isn’t the sort of fellow to panic. He’ll be extremely calm and will be processing plans, schemes and ideas through his enormous brain,” he predicted.
“I fully expect he’ll be a calming influence on the others in the sub, and will be giving them hope.”
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