Stockton Rush is the 61-year-old CEO of OceanGate Inc., the company whose tourist submersible has disappeared during an expedition to explore the Titanic shipwreck. His family includes wife Wendy Rush, who is the director of communications for OceanGate and an expedition team leader, according to her LinkedIn page.
He is also descended from two signers of the Declaration of Independence, according to a Princeton Alumni article on his father.
Wendy Rush also serves as a “Comms and Tracking Team Member” for the Titanic expedition, among others, the page says. Wendy Rush is the great-great granddaughter of Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida, who died on The Titanic, according to archival records in The New York Times.
Sky News is reporting that Rush is among the five passengers on the Titan submersible, along with billionaire Hamish Harding and French explorer and Titanic expertPH Nargeolet. According to CNN, Shahzada Dawood, who comes from a prominent Pakistani business family, and his son, Suleman Dawood, are the final two passengers.
The sub disappeared on Sunday, June 18, 2023, while diving to reach the Titanic shipwreck, and the U.S. Coast Guard and others have launched a search to find it before the vessel runs out of oxygen in the ocean deep, the Coast Guard said in a news release.
The Coast Guard and OceanGate now believe Stockton Rush and the other four men died when the submersible faced catastrophic failure. “We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost,” the company said in a statement to CNN.
Rear Admiral John Mauger said in a news conference on June 22, 2023, that a remote-operated vehicle discovered the tail cone of the Titan lying 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic on the sea floor. “The degree is consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber,” Mauger said.
“A debris field was discovered within the search area by an ROV near the Titanic. Experts within the unified command are evaluating the information,” the U.S. Coast Guard tweeted on June 22, 2023. BBC reported, according to a friend of passengers, that it was a landing frame and rear cover of the Titan submersible.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Stockton Rush’s Wife Wendy Rush Has Worked on Communications With the Titan Sub
Rush told Unsung Science’s David Pogue in a podcast, “I just wanted to do cool things with cool people. And the second objective was I wanted to expand humanity’s understanding of the ocean and ocean awareness.”
That podcast says it costs $250,000 to go on the Titanic sub expedition. It says that Rush’s wife, Wendy, “works communication with the sub.” Her role was to send directions to the sub in part, the podcast said. The submersible is called “Titan.”
Stockton Rush spoke with Sky News about the Titanic shipwreck in February 2023.
“What really strikes you is how beautiful it is,” he told the British news site. “You don’t normally see that on a shipwreck. It is an amazingly beautiful wreck.
“You can see inside, we dipped down and saw the grand staircase and saw some of the chandeliers still hanging,” he told Sky news. “Next year, we are hoping to send a small robot inside but for now we stay on the outside.”
The U.S. Coast Guard said in a press release, “The Coast Guard is searching for five persons after the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince lost contact with their submersible during a dive, approximately 900 miles east of Cape Cod, Sunday morning.”
“A Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, C-130 Hercules aircraft, as well as a Canadian P8 aircraft equipped with underwater sonar capability, are currently searching for the missing submersible,” the release said.
David Concannon, an adviser to OceanGate, the company behind the expedition, told The Associated Press on June 19 that OceanGate lost contact with the sub on the morning of June 18, and it has a 96-hour oxygen supply. At the time of the interview, he said 32 hours had passed.
OceanGate wrote in a statement on its Facebook page, “We are exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely. Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families. We are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible. We are working toward the safe return of the crewmembers.”
The U.S. Coast Guard Northeast tweeted, “The @USCG is searching for a 21-foot submersible from the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince. The 5 person crew submerged Sunday morning, and the crew of the Polar Prince lost contact with them approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes into the vessel’s dive.”
2. Stockton Rush, Who Was the ‘Youngest Jet Transport Rated Pilot in the World’ at Age 19, Married Wendy Weil, a Licensed Pilot & Substitute Teacher, in 1986
A 1986 wedding announcement in The New York Times says that Wendy Hollings Weil, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Richard Weil 3d of Denver, “was married yesterday to Richard Stockton Rush 3d, a son of Ellen Davies Rush of San Francisco and Mr. Rush Jr. of Westminster, Vt.”
The announcement referred to Wendy Rush as “a licensed pilot and a substitute teacher in the Lancaster (Calif.) school system,” who “was formerly an account manager with Ladd Associates in San Francisco, a consultant to magazine publishers. She graduated from the Hotchkiss School and Princeton University.”
The announcement says her father “is professor of surgery and director of transplantation at the University of Colorado Medical School. Her mother, Polly Weil, is a partner in the Denver interior design firm of Reynolds & Weil. The bride is a granddaughter of Mrs. Arthur B. Griffin Jr. of Stuart, Fla., and the late Richard Weil Jr., who was president of Macy’s New York.”
At the time of the wedding, Stockton Rush was described as “an aerospace engineer for the McDonnell Douglas Corporation at the Edwards Air Force Base in California” who “graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy and Princeton.”
According to his company bio, Rush “became the youngest jet transport rated pilot in the world when he obtained his DC-8 Type/Captain’s rating at the United Airlines Jet Training Institute in 1981 at the age of 19.”
The website adds:
He served as a DC-8 first officer during college summers, flying out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for Overseas National Airways under a subcontract from Saudi Arabian Airlines. Over the course of three summers, Rush flew to locations such as Cairo, Damascus, Bombay, London, Zurich, and Khartoum.
In 1984, according to the bio, Rush “joined the McDonnell Douglas Corporation as a Flight Test Engineer on the F-15 program. During this time, he spent two years at Edwards Air Force Base on the APG-63 radar test program and then on the Anti-Satellite Missile Program as the sole full-time representative of McDonnell Douglas.”
3. Stockton Rush, Who Is Descended From 2 Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Is the Son of a Man Who Acted in ‘The Caine Mutiny’ Theatrical Production
The New York Times wedding announcement says that Stockton Rush “is a grandson of Mrs. Ralph K. Davies of San Francisco, for whom the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall is named, and the late Mr. Davies, chairman of the American President Lines, and of Deborah Brock Rush of Philadelphia. His father is chairman of the Peregrine Oil and Gas Company in Burlingame, Calif., and the Natomas Company in San Francisco.”
A 2000 obituary for Rush’s father, also named Stockton Rush, describes him as “a businessman, actor and entrepreneur. Died New Year’s Day at the age of 69 after a brief illness.”
It says he was a Princeton graduate, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, and a board member of Stockdale Oil & Gas.
“In the 1970s, he and his family moved to New Zealand to create Takaro, a hunting and fishing retreat with an emphasis on conservation,” it says. “As founder, chairman and executive director of the Recovery Institute, he was a leader in the field of alcoholism education. He was vice president and a longstanding member of the Bohemian Club.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly wrote a story after that Stockton Rush’s death in 2000. “Tock Rush, whose forbears included two signers of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton, and whose father was Richard S. ’27, died Jan. 1, 2000, after a short illness in San Francisco,” it says.
That bio also says Rush’s dad “received theatrical acclaim for his portrayal of the frustrated executive officer in the prize-winning play, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.”
Over the past 20 years, the OceanGate bio says, Stockton Rush, the OceanGate CEO, “has overseen the development of multiple successful IP ventures. He served on the Board of Directors for Seattle’s BlueView Technologies, a manufacturer of small, high-frequency sonar systems.”
The bio continues:
In 2012, Rush was involved in the company’s acquisition by Teledyne Inc, a leading provider of cutting-edge subsea technologies. He has served as board member for Entomo, an enterprise software developer focused on post-sale channel management and financial reporting, and as Chairman of Remote Control Technology, Inc. (RCT), a manufacturer of wireless remote-control devices for several Fortune 500 industrial clients, including Exxon, Conoco-Philips and Boeing. He served on the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Flight in Seattle from 2003-2007, chairing the Development Committee from 2006-2007.
4. Stockton Rush Built an Experimental Aircraft & Has Conducted Over 30 Dives in a Submarine
According to the bio, in 1989, Rush “personally built a Glasair III experimental aircraft, which he still owns and flies. He completed a heavily modified Kittredge K-350 two-man submersible, in which he has conducted over 30 dives to date.”
The biography continues: “He obtained his BSE in Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 1984, and his MBA from the U.C. Berkeley Haas School of Business in 1989.”
It notes that Rush “has written numerous engineering articles on crewed submersible vehicles in subsea operations for a variety of trade publications and has spoken on private-public investment opportunities in the new ocean economy.”
According to his OceanGate biography, Stockton Rush “is Chief Executive Officer and Founder (2009) of OceanGate Inc. Rush oversees OceanGate’s financial and engineering strategies and provides a clear vision for development of 4,000 meter (13,123 feet) and 6,000 meter (19,685 feet) capable crewed submersibles and their partner launch and recovery platforms which make OceanGate Inc the leading provider of crewed submersibles for charter and scientific research.”
The website notes that Rush “is a co-founder and member of the Board of Trustees of OceanGate Foundation (2012), a nonprofit organization which aims to catalyze emerging marine technology to further discoveries in marine science, history and archaeology.”
Rush’s LinkedIn page says he is based in Seattle. There are “folks who want to do high-end adventure tourism,” Stockton Rush said in a speech before GW Summit Power Talk. “We dove all over the place.”
He called Titan, the missing sub, the “Queen of the fleet.” However, past safety concerns at OceanGate have now come to light, according to The New York Times and CNN. The Times reported about past safety concerns over OceanGate’s “experimental approach” and CNN described how two former employees had also raised concern about the sub.
A former employee, David Lochridge, accused OceanGate and Rush in court documents of firing him when he raised concerns in 2018 about the submersible’s safety.
5. Wendy Rush Posts About OceanGate on Facebook
On her Facebook page, Wendy Rush frequently posts about OceanGate. “Fun to see OceanGate included as one of the uncommon businesses that make the Seattle area unique!” she wrote in April 2023.
Wendy Rush has posted frequently about the Titanic expedition.
In June, she wrote, “We are lucky to have such a great science team coming out to the Titanic with us this summer! I hope you can attend the event on Monday morning to learn more about their work and objectives.”