Elon Musk responds to taunts regarding his ‘impractical’ mini-submarine

A “kid-sized” rescue sub didn’t sound like that bad of an idea four days ago. Really. Rescue a dozen kids without it though and suddenly the (admittedly hilarious) knives are out.

Elon Musk, tech giant, car manufacturer, and yes, occasional publicity hound, is finding that out the hard way. After weathering a couple days of Twitter jibes, it seemed to finally get to him when the provincial governor overseeing the rescue ops, Narongsak Ottanakorn, dubbed the tiny submarine … not all that useful.

“Even though their equipment is technologically sophisticated, it’s not practical for our mission,” Narongsak said at a press conference after the last of the 13 had been safely extracted from Chiang Rai province’s flooded Luang Cave. Ouch.

That was enough for Musk to take a not-so-subtle slap at the governor, saying it was British diver Dick Stanton — who totes did want his sub, btw — and not Narongsak who was the head of the rescue effort.

As if to press home that he was only involved at the request of others, the tech billionaire even shared a screenshot of their emails, in which Stanton wrote: “We’re worried about the smallest lad. Please keep working on the capsule details.”

Musk’s involvement with the cave drama began last week, when he was approached on Twitter by a Thai national who suggested he could help. After initially demuring, he began spitballing ideas online, and within days, “project kid-sized sub” was on its way to reality.

In the wake of the tragic death of former Thai Navy SEAL Samarn Kunan, the idea that some sort of hail Mary tech might be necessary to safely bring the youth soccer team and their coach out of the cave certainly wasn’t being dismissed out of hand.

Musk mused on Twitter that they could build the sub using parts of his company’s Falcon rocket. The capsule would have a transfer tube for oxygen. Even better, it’d light enough for two divers to carry and small enough to get through narrow gaps.

Of course, by Sunday, Narongsak decided to take advantage of the weather and green-lighted the extraction process sans sub. Four kids were safely brought out of the cave by 7pm that day — each accompanied by two expert divers who guided them through the passage underwater with a rope as they wore special full-face masks that allowed them to breathe normally. Suddenly, the sub was very much an afterthought.

But that didn’t stop Musk from showing up at the cave yesterday, sub in hand.

“Mini sub is ready if needed,” he tweeted after it was apparent to pretty much everyone that it wasn’t.

It was “made of rocket parts,” he added, and “named Wild Boar” after the kids’ soccer team. And then, in the tweet’s sad denouement, he announced that he’d leave the sub in Thailand.

Y’know, just in case.

It’s hard to say, but we’d argue that tweet was the moment that finally sent the so-called Twittersphere into full sneers and sarcasm mode. Granted, there was some pretty choice sarcasm amongst the torrent of Twitter content.

All the same, plenty of Musk supporters pushed back, offering messages of support to the engineer. After all, everyone had the same goal — to make sure the 12 children and their coach were safe.

As for the haters, Musk pointed out that — hey, at least he tried.

“If I am a narcissist (which might be true), at least I am a useful one,” he wrote in response to one blast that attacked his motives.

Well, sometimes.

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