Andrew Drury

The strange allure of disaster tourism

I understand the Titan adventurers

  • From Spectator Life
(Image: OceanGate Expeditions)

Some people call me a disaster tourist. I’ve been to Afghanistan, Somalia, North Korea, Syria and Ukraine, to name just a few. I’ve been threatened by kidnappers and have been shot at, but it’s never seriously bothered me. A taste for danger is just part of who I am. That’s why I respect those five men who perished in the Titan submarine last week. They were prepared to descend into the crushing depths of the North Atlantic in a tiny submarine to look upon the most notorious shipwreck in the world, the Titanic. They wanted to experience a place so dangerous that only a handful of people on earth would ever dare go.

With gunfire blazing all around, I felt more alive because I was closer to death

There’s an allure to danger that is difficult to explain. In Iraq, I travelled to the city of Kirkuk to witness the fight against Isis, one of the most depraved and evil enemies the world has ever seen. As I sat in the car with my fixer and driver, I knew what the hot and dusty road led to. I knew we could have been blown up by an IED or hit by a rocket at any moment. When I made it to the front line, I came under fire from Isis and could have easily been killed. But I survived and was able to witness the courage of ordinary Iraqis fighting to liberate their land. With gunfire blazing all around, I felt more alive because I was closer to death. 

When I got back, I was able to share the story of those courageous men fighting Isis with the rest of the world. Sadly, the five people on the Titan can’t share their story, but they have still made a statement. They will be remembered.

Predictably, almost as soon as it was announced that the craft had been destroyed, people began to say exploration and extreme tourism like this shouldn’t happen.

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