OceanGate tows its Titan submersible out from the company’s home base in Everett, Wash., for a test in Puget Sound in preparation for its first Titanic dive in 2021. (OceanGate Photo).
OCEAN GATE TITAN: Legal Implication and Regulation for The Deep-sea exploration in International water.
This research paper examines OCEANGATE TITAN legal
implications and regulations surrounding the operation of deep-sea
exploration. Focus on understanding the specific legal framework and
regulation that governs the use and operation of deep-sea exploration
considering factors such as environmental impact liability in case of
accident or damages and any potential conflict with existing Maritime
law at the international level and to see what safety protocol was
1. Background information about Ocean Gate Titan
Ocean Gate is an American privately owned company based in Everett,
Washington, which provided crewed submersibles for tourism, industry, research,
and exploration. The company was founded in 2009 by Stockton Rush and
The company acquired two submersible vessels- titan and cyclops1.
Titan was an experiment that imploded on 18 June 2023 while transporting
tourists to visit the wreckage of the Titanic. It was the first privately-owned
submersible with a claimed maximum depth of (13,000 ft), and the first
completed crewed submersible with a hull constructed of titanium and carbon
fibre composite materials. After testing with dives to its maximum intended
depth in 2018 and 2019, the original composite hull
of Titan developed fatigue damage and was replaced by 2021. In that year,
Ocean Gate began transporting paying customers to the wreck of Titanic,
completing several dives to the wreck site in 2021 and 2022. During the
submersible’s first expedition in 2023, all five occupants were killed when
the Titan imploded. Ocean Gate lost contact with Titan and contacted
authorities later that day after the submersible was overdue for return. A
massive international search and rescue operation ensued and ended on 22 June,
when debris from Titan was discovered about 1,600 feet (500 metres) from the
bow of the Titanic.
- Literature review
2.1The Titan submersible and potential litigation By Chris
Tidball | June 27, 2023, at 12:41 AM.
This article talk about what legal liability can occurs. Criminal defense
attorney Joshua Ritter told the Daily Mail that “if an investigation
reveals the participants were misled about the risks or pressured to
agree to activities they would normally avoid, then it can lead to
criminal charges. For the company to use a video game controller to
steer this submarine, that’s the kind of thing that makes this ripe for
an investigation.” He compared this situation to a 2009 case in which
three people died at an Arizona sweat lodge. In that case, the
participants entered willingly but the entrepreneur who ran the
lodge was convicted of negligent homicide.
2.2 Investigation Raises Safety Concerns In Catastrophic Implosion
Of Submersible Titan by outlook webdesk.
In this we get to know how company reacted toward safety of passengers
OceanGate fired employee David Lochridge in 2018 after he raised concerns
about the safety of their submersible, the Titan. Lochridge filed a whistleblower
complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, leading to
OceanGate suing him for breaching his employment contract. In response,
Lochridge alleged that he was wrongfully terminated and that his actions aimed
to ensure passenger safety. He claimed that the Titan lacked sufficient testing of
its hull and that hazardous materials were being used inside the submersible
without passenger knowledge. Lochridge believed that OceanGate’s decisions
could potentially subject passengers to extreme danger. The two sides settled
their court case in November 2018.
2.3 The Geopolitics of Deep Oceans
By John Hannigan
In this book author how environmental health of ocean getting damage
because of these vessel the deep ocean is rapidly emerging as an
ecological hot spot with a remarkable diversity of biological life. Yet, the
worlds oceans are currently on a dangerous trajectory of decline,
threatened by acidification, oil and gas drilling, overfishing, and, in the
long term, deep-sea mining, bioprospecting, and geo-engineering.
2.4 International Law and the Genetic Resources of the Deep
By David Kenneth Leary
In this book it examines a range of emerging activities in the deep sea
including bioprospecting, marine scientific research, mining and tourism
and considers the effectiveness of existing international law and
governance mechanisms to sustainably manage these activities. It
includes a detailed examination of the nature and extent of
bioprospecting in the deep sea and its relationship with other activities
such as marine scientific research. The book sets out in detail
suggestions for how international law and policy regimes could respond
to these challenges
- Research Methodology
3.1 Statement of the problem
The statement of problem regarding the issue Ocean Gate Titan can be
- Lack of Safety Features: The Ocean Gate Titan submarine lacks
certain safety features that are essential for underwater exploration and
can pose risks to the occupants in case of emergencies.
- High Maintenance Costs: The maintenance and upkeep costs
associated with the Ocean Gate Titan are significantly high, making it
inaccessible for many research organizations or individuals with limited
- Lack of Customization Options: The Ocean Gate Titan may not offer
sufficient customization options to meet the specific needs and
requirements of various research projects, limiting its applicability in
different scientific disciplines.
- Environmental Impact: The environmental impact of the Ocean Gate
Titan and its operations needs to be assessed to understand any
potential negative effects on marine ecosystems and to devise
necessary mitigation strategies.7. Lack of Public Awareness: There may
be a lack of public awareness and outreach concerning the Ocean Gate
Titan, limiting its potential for public engagement, education, and
- Regulatory Compliance: Concerns may arise regarding the Ocean
Gate Titan’s compliance with international regulations and standards for
underwater exploration, safety, and environmental impact mitigation.
- Funding and Support: The issue of funding and support for the
research, development, and operation of the Ocean Gate Titan can pose
challenges to its continued availability and advancement in the field of
3.2 PURPOSE OF RESEARCH
The purpose of researching the legal implications of the Ocean Gate
Titan is to assess and understand the legal framework and regulations
that govern the operation and use of underwater exploration technology.
This research aims to identify any legal requirements, restrictions, or
potential liabilities associated with the use of such technology and to
ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
By examining the legal implications
- Determine the legal responsibilities and liabilities of the operators,
manufacturers, and users of the Ocean Gate Titan, including any
potential environmental impact or damage caused by its operations.
- Identify any permits, licenses, or certifications required for operating
the Ocean Gate Titan in different regions, waters, or jurisdictions,
ensuring compliance with international, national, and local regulations.
- Explore any legal restrictions or limitations on the use of the Ocean
Gate Titan, particularly in sensitive or protected marine areas, to ensure
responsible and sustainable exploration practices.
- Analyse any existing legal frameworks or international agreements
relevant to underwater exploration and the use of advanced
technologies like the Ocean Gate Titan, contributing to ongoing
discussions and potential improvements in regulations and policies.
Ultimately, researching the legal implications of the Ocean Gate Titan
can help stakeholders, including manufacturers, operators, researchers,
and policymakers, navigate the legal landscape surrounding underwater
exploration and ensure the safe, responsible, and compliant use of such
3.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The objectives of the research regarding the legal implications of the
Ocean Gate Titan can include:
- Understand Applicable Laws and Regulations: The research aims to
identify and comprehend the existing legal framework and regulations
that govern the operation and use of underwater exploration technology.
- Evaluate Compliance Requirements: The research seeks to assess
the legal requirements, permits, licenses, certifications, and compliance
obligations associated with operating the Ocean Gate Titan. This
includes understanding the necessary legal procedures and
documentation needed to obtain permission for exploration activities.
- Identify Potential Liabilities and Responsibilities: By examining the
legal implications, the research aims to determine the legal
responsibilities and liabilities of the operators, manufacturers, and users
of the Ocean Gate Titan. This includes analysing potential environmental
impacts, safety concerns, and damage mitigation procedures.
- Propose Policy and Regulatory Recommendations: Based on the
research findings, the objective is to propose policy recommendations
and potential improvements to the existing legal framework. This can
include suggestions for regulatory frameworks, guidelines, and best
practices to address any gaps or potential issues identified.
- Enhance Safety and Sustainability: The research aims to contribute to
enhancing the safety and sustainability of underwater exploration
activities involving the Ocean Gate Titan. This includes ensuring
compliance with environmental protection laws and promoting
responsible practices to minimize ecological disruptions.
Overall, the research objectives are to provide a comprehensive
understanding of the legal implications surrounding the Ocean Gate
Titan and to assist in establishing a robust legal framework that
promotes responsible and compliant use of such technologies.
3.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the legal implications and regulations for the operation of deep-sea
exploration in terms of environmental protection?
2. what permits and licenses or certifications are required for operating?
3. what are the liabilities of the company regarding cases of accident or
damages and any potential conflicts with existing maritime law at
the international level
4. what policy should be implemented for better regulation?
4. DATA ANALYSIS
4.1The legal implications and regulations for OceanGate
Titan’s operation of deep-sea exploration in terms of environmental
protection would vary depending on the country or jurisdiction in which
the company operates. However, there are several international
frameworks and regulations that can provide an understanding of the
environmental protection measures that would likely be involved. Some
key aspects may include:
- International Maritime Law: The operation of deep-sea exploration
would likely be subject to the United Nations Convention on the Law of
the Sea (UNCLOS), which defines the rights and responsibilities of
states concerning the use of the world’s oceans. UNCLOS includes
provisions for environmental protection and conservation of marine
- Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA): Most countries require
companies involved in deep-sea exploration to conduct an
Environmental Impact Assessment before starting any activities. This
assessment evaluates the potential environmental consequences of the
operation, including impacts on marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
- Biodiversity Conservation: Deep-sea exploration must consider the
potential impacts on marine biodiversity. This includes protecting
endangered species, managing impacts on marine ecosystems, and
minimizing damage to habitats.
- Waste Disposal: Deep-sea exploration can generate waste, such as
drilling fluids or other materials. Proper waste management regulations
and practices need to be in place to prevent pollution and ensure that
waste is properly disposed of.
- International Protocols: Depending on the location of exploration
activities, additional international protocols may apply. For example, if
the operation is taking place in the high seas, the International Seabed
Authority (ISA) may regulate activities related to deep-sea mineral
It is essential for Ocean Gate Titan to comply with the relevant legal
requirements and regulations pertaining to environmental protection to
minimize the impacts of its deep-sea exploration activities and ensure
4.2 The specific permits, licenses or certifications
required for operating Ocean Gate Titan’s deep-sea exploration would
depend on the country or jurisdiction in which the company operates.
However, some common permits, licenses, and certifications that may
be required include:
- Exploration Permit/License: Many countries require companies
engaged in deep-sea exploration to obtain an exploration permit or
license. This permit grants the company the legal authorization to
conduct exploration activities in specific areas of the ocean.
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): As mentioned earlier, an
EIA is often required before commencing deep-sea exploration. This
assessment evaluates the potential environmental impacts of the
operation and helps inform the decision-making process.
- International Seabed Authority (ISA) Authorization (if applicable):
When operating in international waters or areas beyond national
jurisdiction, Ocean Gate Titan may need authorization from the ISA.
The ISA regulates activities related to deep-seabed mining in areas
outside national jurisdiction.
- Vessel and Equipment Certifications: The company’s ships and
equipment used for deep-sea exploration may need to comply with
certain certifications and standards. These certifications can include
safety, environmental, and operational requirements set by maritime
organizations and relevant government agencies.
- Biodiversity or Species-Specific Permits: If the deep-sea exploration
targets specific protected species or habitats, additional permits or
licenses may be required to ensure compliance with biodiversity
- Health and Safety Certifications: Ocean gate Titan may need to
obtain health and safety certifications to ensure the well-being of its
personnel and compliance with occupational health and safety
- Insurance and Liability Coverage: The company would likely require
appropriate insurance coverage to manage potential risks and
liabilities associated with its deep-sea exploration operations. This
can include coverage for environmental damages, accidents, and
other related risks.
The issue with Ocean Gate Titan was that novel vessels like new
submersibles are currently not necessarily subject to the registration and
inspection requirements that apply to traditional vessels like ships,
maritime law experts told a news channel. But in the case of a submersible
Titan, the law simply was behind the latest technology, There’s nothing
that prevents countries from making rules for such new vessels — “this
is an example of where the law did not catch up.”
4.3Liabilities of Ocean Gate Titan
Ocean Gate investigation is still running on account if the investigation
found anything then liability can be implied on the company. such as:
- Civil Liability: If Ocean Gate Titan’s vessels or operations cause
accidents or damages, the company may be held liable for
compensating victims for injuries, property damage, or environmental
- Criminal Liability: If the accident resulted from negligence,
misconduct, or violation of maritime laws, Ocean Gate Titan and
responsible individuals may face criminal charges, leading to penalties,
fines, or even imprisonment.
- Pollution Liability: Like any maritime company, Ocean Gate Titan may
be responsible for any pollution caused by its vessels. International laws
require companies to undertake necessary cleanup actions
Potential Conflicts with International Maritime Law:
- Jurisdictional Conflicts: Determining the appropriate jurisdiction to
handle a maritime accident that occurs in international waters can be
complex. Different countries may claim jurisdiction, leading to conflicts
and complicating legal proceedings.
- Conflict of Laws: Companies operating in multiple jurisdictions must
ensure compliance with the specific maritime laws of each country.
Conflicts may arise if Ocean Gate Titan is found to be violating the laws
of a particular country while operating in its water
It is essential for companies like Ocean Gate Titan to understand and
comply with international maritime laws, stay updated on changing
4.4Policy for better regulation
1. International Collaboration: Establish a framework for international
collaboration and coordination among governments, scientific
organizations, and industry stakeholders to ensure consistent and
effective regulation of deep-sea exploration vehicles like Ocean Gate
Titan. This could involve the formation of a dedicated working group or
task force to address regulatory issues and develop best practices.
2. Environmental Impact Assessments: Submersible vessel like titan
should Implement mandatory environmental impact assessments for
deep-sea exploration activities to evaluate potential risks and ensure
operators have proper mitigation measures in place. This would involve
evaluating the potential effects of underwater noise, discharge of
pollutants, disturbance of marine habitats, and impacts on marine
3. Transparency and Reporting: Require operators of deep-sea
exploration vehicles to provide detailed information on their activities,
such as expedition plans, equipment specifications, and environmental
monitoring reports. This would enhance transparency and enable
regulatory authorities to assess compliance and environmental impact
effectively. Which was lacking in Vessel Titan.
4. Liability and Financial Assurance: Establish clear liability frameworks
and financial assurance mechanisms to ensure operators of deep-sea
exploration vehicles have the means to cover potential damages or
accidents. This could involve requiring operators to carry liability
insurance, posting performance bonds, or contributing to a dedicated
fund to address environmental damages caused by their activities.
6. Research and Monitoring: Encourage research and monitoring
programs to understand the long-term impacts of deep-sea exploration
activities on marine ecosystems. This could involve funding scientific
studies, establishing data-sharing platforms, and supporting international
collaborations to improve knowledge and inform future regulation.
7. Compliance and Enforcement: Strengthen compliance and
enforcement mechanisms to ensure operators adhere to regulations and
obligations. This could involve increasing resources allocated to
regulatory bodies, conducting regular inspections and audits, and
imposing penalties for non-compliance.
8. Public Engagement and Education: Foster public engagement and
education initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of deep–
sea exploration and the associated regulatory frameworks. This could
include public consultations, outreach programs, and educational
campaigns focusing on responsible exploration and the protection of
It Is important to note that specific policy measures are required for
jurisdictions and regions where Ocean Gate Titan like deep-sea
exploration vehicles operate. Collaboration and coordination between
countries and stakeholders are essential to develop and implement
effective regulation. Through this, we can avoid what happened this year
to Titan with a lack of regulation and policy.
4.5 Key findings
This research paper discusses the observation made by the researcher in
the context of OCEANGATE TITAN legal implication and regulation for
The Deep-sea Exploration in International Water. Here, the data is collected
from articles published online by relevant sources like international
organisation, international news channels, and some books which connect it with
Through interviews available on the internet from the organisation, from the
victim families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy, they told they signed
the agreement for exploration despite safety concerns still, until the case is on
investigating stage we can’t say anything.
Also did questionnaires via Google Forms with the information gathered from
key informant, opinion about legal implications how they see this accident how
they think it should be corrected.
5. CONCLUSION & WAY FORWARD
In conclusion, the exploration and utilization of deep-water resources,
such as the Ocean Gate Titan, pose significant legal implications and
regulations that must be carefully addressed. This research has
demonstrated that the legal framework surrounding deep-water activities
is complex, diverse, and often influenced by domestic and international
laws. While existing regulations provide a foundation for addressing
environmental, safety, and social concerns, their effectiveness and
enforcement in the deep-water realm remain a subject of debate.
That is collaborative and multilateral approach is crucial to effectively
regulate deep-water activities. International organizations, such as the
International Seabed Authority and the International Maritime
Organization should play a central role in establishing clearer
guidelines, standardizing regulations, and ensuring compliance across
borders. Domestically, governments must establish adequate legal
mechanisms to manage and oversee deep-water projects, focusing on
comprehensive risk assessments, stringent environmental impact
assessments, and robust safety measures.
Furthermore, public engagement and stakeholder involvement are vital
in shaping the legal framework for deep-water operations. Informing and
including local communities, indigenous peoples, environmental
organizations, and industry representatives in the decision-making
the process will help ensure that legal regulations meet societal
expectations, address concerns and promote sustainable practices.
The increasing demand for deep-water resources necessitates a
proactive and adaptive approach towards legal regulations. Innovation
and continued research into emerging technologies, environmental
monitoring systems, and risk mitigation strategies will play a crucial role
in enhancing the effectiveness and enforcement of existing regulations.
Furthermore, regular reviews and updates of the legal framework are
essential to consider new scientific discoveries, evolving societal
demands, and changing industry practices.
Ultimately, addressing the legal implications and regulations surrounding
deep-water activities, particularly those related to the Ocean Gate Titan,
requires a balance between economic development and ecological
conservation. A comprehensive, transparent, and enforceable legal
frame work will help ensure the responsible and sustainable exploration the
and utilization of deep-water resources, contributing to the long-term
well-being of marine ecosystems, coastal communities, and future
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