ONE of the divers involved in saving 12 junior soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave in northern Thailand has offered scathing criticism of billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s attempt to help by designing a submarine, describing it as “just a PR stunt”.
Asked by CNN what he thought of Musk’s “kid-size submarine”, 63-year-old British rescue worker Vern Unsworth said “he can stick his submarine where it hurts.”
“It just had no absolutely no chance of working,” he said.
Unsworth played a “pivotal” role in the rescue because he of his extensive knowledge of the cave and because he connected Thai authorities with a number of British experts who assisted in the successful efforts, CNN reported.
“He had no conception of what the cave massage was like,” said Unsworth of Musk. “The submarine, I believe, was about 5 foot 6 long, rigid so it wouldn’t have gone round corners or round any obstacles.”
“It wouldn’t have made the first fifty metres into the cave from the dive start point,” the diver added, stating it was “just a PR stunt”. Thai authorities had previously said the sub was “not practical”.
The billionaire CEO hit back on Twitter, however, calling Unsworth “pedo guy”.
“I was *asked* to help repeatedly. Declined several times, as I thought they had it in hand & only agreed to help when Thai SEAL died (deep cave pumps not operating at time),” added Musk. “We designed the mini-sub to Stanton’s specifications *and* brought a flexible rescue pod just in case.”
Even prior to Unsworth’s comments, Musk had been widely lampooned on the internet for trying to get involved with the rescue efforts, with many claiming it was a marketing strategy for his aerospace company SpaceX.
Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids’ soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future. Thailand is so beautiful. pic.twitter.com/EHNh8ydaTT
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2018
Musk visited the cave on July 9. He tweeted it was “great news” the boys made it out safely and congratulated the “outstanding rescue team”.
When the interviewer noted that the billionaire had entered the cave, Unsworth said: “He was asked to leave very quickly. And so he should have been.”
But Musk wanted to have the last word, pledging to release a video of the submarine making it to the end of the cave chambers to prove it could have saved the boys.
All of the 13 so-called Wild Boars, who had undergone a gruelling 18-day ordeal, were brought to safety last Wednesday without the help of the submarine.