Expert Cave Diver Tells Elon Musk That His Submarine Sucked
British cave diver Vern Unsworth probably knows the Tham Laung cave system better than anyone else alive — which is why he was frustrated when billionaire Elon Musk suggested that he could save the Thai soccer team that was stuck deep in the caves.
Musk was quick to offer his help to the extensive team of international diving experts. Days before the rescue mission was executed, he started promoting his novel solution: putting the boys in a mini-submarine to guide them to the cave exit.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
As the idea gained the world’s attention, the de facto head of the Chiang Rai rescue operation said bluntly that Musk’s offer was “not practical”.
Talking to CNN after the mission had wrapped up, 63-year-old Unsworth had some choice words for Musk:
“He can stick his submarine where it hurts,” the expert diver said. “It just had absolutely no chance of working. He had no conception of what the cave passage was like.”
Unsworth had been helping out the mission from the beginning: he has lived in Chiang Rai for six years, and frequently explores the caves where the Thai soccer team was found. He was the one who helped pinpoint exactly where the boys were within the cave complex.
“The sub I believe was five or six feet long, rigid, so it wouldn’t have gone around corners or around any obstacles. It wouldn’t have made the first fifty metres into the cave from the dive start point. Just a PR stunt.”
At this point the interviewer pushed back: “But he went into the cave on Tuesday?”
“And was asked to leave very quickly, and so he should have been,” he responded.
Here’s the video of the interview:
Cave rescuer on Musk: “It was a PR stunt. It had no chance of working.” pic.twitter.com/uPgRMQLkRx
— Quoth the Raven (@QTRResearch) July 13, 2018
Over the past week, Musk has taken to Twitter to fight back against claims that he was of little use to the rescue operation.
In one tweet, he denied that former governor Narongsak Osatthanakorn was the leader of the operation.
The former Thai provincial governor (described inaccurately as “rescue chief”) is not the subject matter expert. That would be Dick Stanton, who co-led the dive rescue team. This is our direct correspondence: pic.twitter.com/dmC9l3jiZR
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 10, 2018
In another, he questioned why people were criticising him for lending a helping hand.
This reaction has shaken my opinion of many people. We were asked to create a backup option & worked hard to do so. Checked with dive team many times to confirm it was worthwhile. Now it’s there for anyone who needs it in future. Something’s messed up if this is not a good thing.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2018
This weekend, it was revealed that Elon Musk had donated over $39,000 to one of the largest pro-Republican funding groups.