"Exploration is the act of going somewhere no one has gone before, usually at great risk, for the purpose of scientific discovery."
When I was 9 years old, I had a dream about living and working underwater. When I was 11, I had a dream about living and working on Mars. Like my childhood idols Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Captain James T. Kirk, I have always wanted to go where no one has gone before ... not for pure adventure, but for expanding human knowledge.
In 2008, I organized a pitch event for Space Angels Network and got to meet one of the presenting entrepreneurs, veteran submersible designer Graham Hawkes, then founder/CEO of Deepflight. Given my lifelong passion for space, I was immediately mesmerized by the idea of using a uniquely engineered vehicle to travel into a hostile environment filled with deep mysteries. Graham allowed me to accompany him on a shallow towed test dive of his new Super Falcon winged sub and permanently changed the trajectory of my life.
In 2009, Graham introduced me to Stockton Rush, a Seattle engineer, investor, and entrepreneur. His passion for ocean exploration--and especially the innovative engineering required to allow humans to venture into the deep sea--inspired me to move my family across the country in order to join him in co-founding OceanGate, our attempt to shift the paradigm of human ocean exploration.
Since our founding, Stockton led the OceanGate team through an ambitious program of developing increasingly capable submersibles to safely take humans into the unforgiving pressure of the deep ocean. It all started with our purchase of the used 300m Antipodes (built in 1997 and acquired by us in 2009), then continued with our hybrid 1,000m test platform Cyclops (2015), and ultimately culminated with our flagship 4,000m Titan (2018), each designed to carry 5 people in relative comfort.
Even though I left the company in January 2013, I kept in touch with Stockton right up until May 2023, only a few weeks before he lost his life in a catastrophic implosion of Titan during one of our science expeditions to the wreck of the Titanic.
In 2012, I was accepted as a member of The Explorers Club. My membership was sponsored by Don Walsh, one of the first two humans to reach the deepest point in the world's oceans, and Ken Howery, a PayPal co-founder who went on to serve as the US ambassador to Sweden. I was humbled by this honor, which was based on my role in organizing and leading several ocean exploration expeditions using OceanGate's manned submersibles:
2010 - Catalina Island
2011 - Puget Sound - SS Governor
2011 - Puget Sound - SS Dix
2011 - Monterey Bay
2012 - Monterey Bay
2012 - Miami
All of our expeditions supported scientific efforts, collected valuable data, transported scientific personnel to key sites, generated volumes of content, and garnered mass media attention. Along the way, we witnessed incredible sights, studied amazing marine life, and documented a variety of shipwrecks. In 2012, one noteworthy expedition discovered a previously unknown sunken WWII-era Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter plane that had been lost by the U.S. Navy 70 years prior. (All photos courtesy of OceanGate)
Deepflight Super Falcon
Explorers Club Flag Expedition
Diver Lockout Training Platform
Grumman F6F Hellcat