Former Titanic sub passenger describes conditions on expedition: ‘This is not a Disney ride'

Aaron Newman traveled on OceanGate's Titan submersible in 2021.

A former passenger on the OceanGate submersible craft that went missing June 18 while traveling to the wreckage of the Titanic spoke about the conditions of the journey, underscoring the risks involved in traveling to the bottom of the ocean.

Aaron Newman, an investor in OceanGate, took a trip down to the Titanic in 2021 and said he felt safe during the entire journey.

"They were a professional crew, they did a lot of training around safety and the backup systems around dropping weights, so I felt very safe," Newman said June 21 on TODAY. "But ... this is not a Disney ride, right? We're going places that very few people have been, and this is inventing things. So there are risks, right? And we know that, but all these people accepted that."

The sub is owned by OceanGate, a company that charters private tours to explore the famous shipwreck. Five people are missing on the submersible: OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, billionaire Hamish Harding, Frenchman Paul-Henry Nargeolet, businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman Dawood.

"None of these people were people that were I would consider tourists — tourists is such a bad term," Newman said of the passengers. "These are people who lived on the edge and loved what they were doing and if anything's going on, these are people that are that are calm and thinking this through and doing what they can to stay alive. So this is a good set of people."

Newman also reacted to the news that a Canadian military surveillance aircraft detected underwater noises early on June 21 as an international search worked to locate the missing craft.

A statement from the U.S. Coast Guard did not specify what the noises could be, the Associated Press reported, but Newman called the development "exciting news."

"Our focus is just hoping for this Hollywood ending to happen. We know the Coast Guard and everybody else is working so hard. And the OceanGate crew is working as hard as they can to possibly find this if anything is out there," he said. "It's promising but there's work to be done, and that's what the focus is."

Newman described his 2021 journey to the Titanic wreckage aboard the Titan craft as "basically going to another planet."

"You're getting in this craft — you're bolted in. It's a tube that's comfortable, but not spacious," he said. "And at the surface, when you first get in, it gets very hot and stuffy and so you're laying down and you have a little packed lunch with you and a little bit of water, but you're planning for the day to be there."

Newman said that as the sub descends into the ocean, it quickly becomes cold and pitch black other than the lights from the sub.

"By the time you hit the bottom, the water down there is below what standard freezing temperature is," he said, adding the water is 29 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. "That's going to conduct right through that metal, so it was cold when we were at the bottom. You had to layer up — we had wool hats on and were doing everything to stay warm at that bottom."

International search teams are working to locate the Titan, which could be as deep as about 12,500 feet below the ocean's surface, according to the Associated Press.

The craft also only has enough life support to sustain five crew members for about 96 hours, or four days, according to OceanGate's website. Experts estimate the sub only has less than a day's worth of air left as of June 21.

OceanGate released a statement about the incident on June 19.

"Our entire focus is on the wellbeing of the crew and every step possible is being taken to bring the five crew members back safely," the company said. "We are deeply grateful for the urgent and extensive assistance we are receiving."

Experts noted even if the submersible is on the surface, crews must locate the craft to let the passengers out, as the sub can only be opened from the outside.

"That clock ticks whether they’re floating on the surface or whether they’re on the bottom alive," Tim Taylor, CEO of Tiburon Subsea, told NBC News.

This story first appeared on More from TODAY:

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