Did Affirmative Action Play Role in Titanic Sub Disaster?

In newly unsurfaced audio, the CEO of OceanGate, which launched the ill-fated Titanic tourist submersible, said he didn’t want to hire “50-year-old white guys” with military experience because they aren’t “inspirational.”

Stockton Rush, the OceanGate founder who is currently trapped on the 22-foot sub with four wealthy clients with less than a day’s worth of oxygen left, said qualifications were unnecessary because “anybody can drive the sub” with a cheap Amazon video game joystick.

“When I started the business, one of the things you’ll find, there are other sub-operators out there, but they typically have, uh, gentlemen who are ex-military submariners, and they — you’ll see a whole bunch of 50-year-old white guys,” Rush told Teledyne Marine in a Zoom interview.

Instead, he wanted a youthful crew for the $250,000-per-person voyage, like a “25-year-old who’s a sub pilot or a platform operator or one of our techs can be inspirational…so we’ve really tried to get very intelligent, motivated, younger individuals involved because we’re doing things that are completely new.”

WATCH: Coast Guard gives update on missing Titanic sub

Some online speculated that the CEO was worried less about inspiration and more about saving money to hire less experienced employees.

“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,” Rush added. “We can train someone to pilot the sub, we use a game controller, so anybody can drive the sub.”

One of the Washington-based company’s previous expeditions was lost for several hours because there is no GPS underwater, CBS News correspondent David Pogue reports.

Now a near-impossible Coast Guard rescue operation is underway to find the tiny vessel that set out to view the 1912 wreckage of the “unsinkable” ship some 370 miles off of Canada’s coast and 12,500 feet below sea level in the Atlantic Ocean.

Do you think affirmative action played a role in the Titanic submersible's disaster voyage?

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