Despite fears to the contrary, the 12 boys and soccer coach who were trapped in a Thailand cave for over three weeks were able to safely scuba dive out of the tunnels, with the aid of Thai Navy SEALs. However, before their rescue was completed, billionaire Elon Musk became involved with operations, lending resources and manpower from his company to build a child-sized submarine to transport out any children who could not make the dive.
Many online mocked him for the project, which was called "not practical," by leaders of the mission. Musk, however, had some words for his internet detractors.
Though it turned out to be less practical than diving, Musk said his team worked at the request of those leading the operation as a back-up option:
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.
He posted this response on Twitter:
@dtemkin This reaction has shaken my opinion of many people. We were asked to create a backup option & worked hard… https://t.co/smOo5175h3— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1531297244.0
Despite the emergence of better options, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha spoke in favor of Musk's contributions, saying he was "highly appreciative."
Musk also posted to Twitter an email from Richard Stanton, co-lead of the dive team, who asked that Musk continue working on the sub in case the smallest child couldn't swim:
@BBCWorld The former Thai provincial governor (described inaccurately as “rescue chief”) is not the subject matter… https://t.co/XCnsVqZXTI— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1531231416.0
@BBCWorld Moreover, based on extensive cave video review & discussion with several divers who know journey, SpaceX… https://t.co/Je338lRp2R— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1531231814.0
Musk also elaborated on other possible uses for the mini-sub, which he will be leaving in Thailand in case it's ever needed again:
@LanceUlanoff @BBCWorld Good for rescuing vulnerable patients in dangerous environments, particularly if water, tox… https://t.co/QBf1LM0CCa— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1531232903.0
Nonetheless, many Twitter users were less than impressed by how things turned out:
elon musk before leaving the rescued boys in thailand https://t.co/FIbvXV9dfC— Ali (@Ali)1531260158.0
exclusive pics of elon musk leaving thailand https://t.co/JyFfPn1e6v— David Mack (@David Mack)1531243846.0
While others are defending Musk for doing what he could to help:
everyone: elon musk is a billionaire and doesn’t do anything to help people elon: *quickly creates capsule with a… https://t.co/AZctvg6exN— Dayton Potter (@Dayton Potter)1531259523.0
Jeez, people all over the world were armchair quarterbacking the Thai cave rescue and @elonmusk is getting bad pres… https://t.co/aGX7ZR0Jow— Scott Manley (@Scott Manley)1531240281.0
Whatever his motivations, Lianna Garfield from Business Insider is confident Musk's efforts were a huge PR boon for all his companies:
Most of the world will not remember the names of the Thai SEALs who risked their lives on the ground to save the soccer team. But they will remember Musk.
But to those who accuse him of attention grabbing, the entrepreneur makes a good point:
@DocJohnG @dcliem If I am a narcissist (which might be true), at least I am a useful one— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1531069534.0