‘Portal to Hell’: OceanGate Co-Founder Unveils New Expedition

One year after the tragic OceanGate Titan submersible incident, Guillermo Söhnlein, co-founder ofOceanGate, is planning a new underwater expedition. Söhnlein, who left OceanGate in 2013, has set his sights on Dean’s Blue Hole, a 663-foot deep sinkhole in the Bahamas, through his new venture, Blue Marble Exploration.

The mission, called the Sapphire Abyss, aims to be the first manned submersible dive to explore this underwater formation, which has garnered local folklore as a “portal to hell.” Blue Marble Exploration’s website warns potential participants to “expect the unexpected” and mentions the possibility of encountering human remains due to previous drownings in the area.

The company touts that the expedition would face numerous challenges, including uncharted waters, strong currents, extreme pressure, near-total darkness, and of course, “What Lurks Beneath,” which could be anything including “the Devil himself.” While the company invites people to join, it’s unclear if there’s a fee similar to OceanGate’s $250,000 charge for Titanic excursions.

The dive will utilize submersibles equipped with LED lights and underwater drone technology. However, details about the specific type of submersibles to be used remain undisclosed. This comes in the wake of concerns over OceanGate’s use of a controversial carbon fiber hull in the Titan, which is believed to have contributed to its catastrophic implosion.

Last June’s Titan disaster resulted in the loss of five lives, including that of Stockton Rush, OceanGate’s other co-founder. The submersible imploded approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes into its descent to the Titanic wreckage, which lies about 12,500 feet below the North Atlantic Ocean’s surface.

In the aftermath of the Titan incident, Söhnlein advocated for continued underwater exploration, claiming that it honors the memory of those who lost their lives and serves an important purpose for humanity. 

“Let’s figure out what went wrong, let’s learn lessons and let’s get down there again,” Söhnlein told Reuters last year. “If anything, what we’re feeling is an even stronger imperative to continue doing this kind of exploration work. I think it’s important for humanity, and it’s probably the best way to honor the five crew members who gave up their lives doing something that they loved.”

Söhnlein’s ambitious plans extend beyond the portal to hell; he has also expressed interest in sending humans to Venus, claiming it can be done safely.

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