Arthur Loibl, who visited the site in 2021 in the OceanGate Titan submersible, told the media he felt "incredibly lucky" to have survived the dive.
“It was a suicide mission back then!” Loibl told the German outlet Bild, adding that on his first voyage, the sub did not operate correctly and that there were “electrical problems."
Mr. Loibl said he was on the voyage with OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush and Paul-Henry Nargeolet – both of whom are believed to be passengers on the missing Titan mini-sub.
His comments came as passengers disclosed details of previous voyages by OceanGate’s tiny sub, describing how it frequently lost contact with the surface.
A rescue operation is currently in progress to save the five individuals aboard a submerged craft that went missing during an exploration of the Titanic wreckage in the deep sea. The incident occurred on Sunday morning, just under two hours into the expedition to the remains of the Titanic, resting over two miles below the surface of the North Atlantic.
Recounting his experience, Loibl said, “The first submarine didn’t work, then a dive at 1,600 meters had to be abandoned. My mission was the fifth, but we also went into the water five hours late due to electrical problems.”
On Wednesday, a retired rear admiral in Britain's Royal Navy wondered why anyone would get into a “dodgy piece of technology” like the Titan.
“Why on earth you would go in a dodgy piece of technology where you actually have to sign away any right to sue the company for emotional damage, injury and death is beyond me," Chris Parr said.
“It is fundamentally dangerous, there was no backup plan, it’s experimental, and I’m afraid to say there’s an element of hubris if you want to go down and do that," he went on.
Without a tracking device, Parr said it was a nearly impossible task trying to find the mini-sub in the allotted 30-hour oxygen window after it went missing. “I’m afraid the odds are vanishingly small," he said Tuesday.
“Obviously, we want to remain hopeful and optimistic, but there are two problems here – one is actually finding the thing, and second, is how on earth are you going to get it off the seabed. It’s never been done before, and I don’t think anybody’s got any ideas about how to do it at the moment," he added.
On Wednesday, rescue personnel on the scene reported hearing banging noises, likely from the people aboard the sunken sub.
Meanwhile, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who is also trapped aboard his company's now missing craft, told an interviewer he didn't want to hire a bunch of "50-year-old white guys" like other submarine companies because he wanted his team to be "inspirational."
"When I started the business, one of the things you'll find, there are other sub operators out there, but they typically have gentlemen who are ex-military submariners, and you'll see a whole bunch of 50-year-old white guys," Rush told a representative with Teledyne Marine in August 2020.
"I wanted our team to be younger, to be inspirational, and I'm not going to inspire a 16-year-old to go pursue marine technology, but a 25-year-old, you know, who's a sub pilot or a platform operator or one of our techs can be inspirational," Rush continued. "So we've really tried to get very intelligent, motivated, younger individuals involved because we're doing things that are completely new."
"We're taking approaches that are used largely in the aerospace industry, is related to safety and some of the preponderance of checklists things we do for risk assessments and things like that, that are more aviation related than ocean related and we can train people to do that. We can train someone to pilot the sub, we use a game controller, so anybody can drive the sub."