In an act of pure, unadulterated savagery, a British diver involved in the recent rescue of a soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand has told tech billionaire Elon Musk where to stick the miniature submarine that he created, slamming it as a PR stunt.

The Tesla founder made headlines around the world when he announced that he was working on a “child-size submarine” that could help get the young members of the Wild Boars soccer team through the tunnels of the Tham Luang cave system.

Though the sub was not ultimately used in the rescue, Musk still dropped it off in Thailand himself. It seems, however, that rescuer Vern Unsworth would rather he’d kept it. In a recent interview with CNN, the diver said the sub had “no chance of working.”

He said:

“He can stick his submarine where it hurts. Is just had absolutely no chance of working. He had no conception of what the cave passage was like. The submarine, I believe, was about five-foot-six 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. Just a PR stunt.” 

When the reporter mentioned that Musk entered the cave himself earlier in the week, Unsworth replied that “he was asked to leave very quickly – and so he should have been.”

Elon Musk himself has hit out at the suggestion that his creation of the miniature sub was anything other than a genuine effort to help, saying that the mockery he’s received on the internet in recent days has “shaken” his opinion of many people.

He said:

“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 also released details of an email exchange with a member of the dive team who encouraged him to “please keep working on the capsule”, saying that it “may well be used” if heavy rains in the area continued to cause problems.

Image: Getty Images / Diego Donamaria