Troubled Submersible Company Received $450,000 In Covid Aid


July 11, 2023



OceanGate Expeditions, the company behind the Titan submersible disaster, was forgiven of its $450,000 Paycheck Protection Program loan, according to the ProPublica PPP Loan Database.

OceanGate builds submersibles for tourism and research, but its inherently risky business model raises questions, and led to the tragic deaths of five people in the ocean in June.

Its liability waiver for sub tourism mentioned the possibility of death three times on the first page alone. Now, some are accusing the company of cutting corners. James Cameron, the renowned Titanic explorer and director of the 1997 movie, said, “I was very suspect of the technology that they were using. I wouldn’t have gotten in that sub.”

Despite the questionable safety protocols and business model, OceanGate still received $450,000 from the first round of PPP loans in 2020. The loans were to help keep staff on the payroll as business stalled with lockdowns, with the company reporting it employed 22 staff members at the time. They were subsequently forgiven, giving OceanGate a nearly half-million dollar windfall.

PPP funding was handed out like candy to large and small businesses alike, regardless of business model, need, or the pandemic’s impact on a particular business. Its scope is one reason it has seen such massive fraud, with some estimating up to $64 billion in fraudulent loans, with total Covid aid stolen or wasted adding up to $403 billion.

This story also underscores an important note on Covid relief programs. While the massive PPP program was pitched as loans, 92 percent were fully or partially forgiven, making it a grant program. That was made clear to applicants upfront, though it was marketed to the American people as a loan.

While the government understandably acted quickly at the outset of the pandemic to get funds out the door, it is important to consider whether companies like OceanGate really deserved half a million dollars from taxpayers.

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This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.