OceanGate CEO announced Titan Sub was damaged after being struck by lightning three years ago

The CEO of OceanGate - the company that built the Titan submersible that imploded on the way to the Titanic wreck site - once revealed that the experimental sub was damaged by a lightning strike in the Bahamas.

The submersible went missing on June 18 after losing contact with the surface during a dive to the Titanic, sparking a massive search and rescue operation that eventually resulted in the discovery of some debris.

With that debris discovery, it was surmised that the sub had suffered a ‘catastrophic implosion’ that would have resulted in the almost instant death of all five men on board at the time.

On board was OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, along with four other passengers - father and son Shahzada and Suleman Dawood, British billionaire Hamish Harding, and French diver Paul-Henry Nargeolet.

All have been presumed lost after the implosion.

Years before the tragedy in the North Atlantic, Rush had given an interview in which he said that his craft was damaged after it was hit by lightning during a stint in the Caribbean.

The Titan was out for a test dive back in 2018 when it was struck, although the CEO and co-founder said that it didn’t really damage the sub.

He told Matt Burdyny from Teledyne Marine: “Fortunately, it was not a direct strike. A direct strike to the carbon fibre probably would have taken us totally out."

That interview has since been removed from Teledyne’s website, but it still exists out on the internet and on YouTube.

There has been much discussion of Mr Rush’s attitude to the safety of his submersible since the implosion, leading many to point to previous concerns raised by former employees and potential passengers.

Ex-Oceangate director of marine operations David Lochridge was sacked after he raised concerns – detailed extensively in legal documentation – about the safety of the Titan and Mr Rush’s attitude to those safety concerns.

He even suggested in an email that he was worried Rush would die on board the sub.

In another potentially damning tale, Mr Rush is also reported to have told passengers to take a ‘sleep’ when the craft’s battery failed at depth during a dive.

After the battery went ‘kaput’ because of issues ‘using the drops for the weights’ Mr Rush is said to have told passengers to have a sleep as the weights would take 24 hours to dissolve, after which the vessel would rise to the surface.

“At first, I thought he was joking because we were over two hours into our expedition and so close to the bottom,” videographer Jaden Pan – a passenger on that journey – said.

Pan claims that the sub was ‘two football fields’ from the wreckage at the time of the battery failure.