Days after they left for a voyage in 22 ft submersible to see the ruins of Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean, five men, including one teenager, have been declared dead today.
The company that hosted the mission on the Titan submersible to the Titanic— OceanGate, informed on Thursday that the entire crew – including its founder and CEO who was the pilot in the mission – were “lost at sea.” The U.S. Coast Guard also informed the same day that rescue teams had found debris from the ship on the ocean floor “consistent with catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber.”
The passengers were well known for their devotion to extreme exploration of marine science, wish to collect artifacts and contribute to research from the Titanic or of their massive wealth. Each paid $250,000 to board the submersible. The Coast Guard reported that families of the men had been notified of their deaths.
In its official statement on Thursday, Oceangate said, “These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans. Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time.”
During a press conference on Thursday, Rear Admiral John Mauger of the U.S. Coast Guard said that he was not sure whether the Coast Guard would be able to recover the bodies.
“This is an incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the seafloor,” he said.
OceanGate’s CEO Stockton Rush
Stockton Rush, 61, was the founder of OceanGate and pilot of the vessel. He was also the co-founder of OceanGate Foundation, a non-profit organization.
In Seattle last year, Rush said at a conference: “One of the reasons I started the business was because I didn’t understand why we were spending 1,000 times as much money to explore space as we were to explore … the oceans. There is no private access to the deep ocean, and yet there’s all this life to be discovered.”
At the same event, he also said submarine safety programs were “over the top in their rules and regulations.”
British billionaire explorer Hamish Harding
Hamish Harding, 58, was chairman of an global sales company in business aviation—Auction Aviation. He had three Guinness World Records for his explorations by plane and into the deep ocean. He had also been to space.
He had been eagerly awaiting his Titan ride. “Due to the worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years, this mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023.” In a Facebook post Saturday, the day before the Titan voyage, Harding wrote, “A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow. We started steaming from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada yesterday and are planning to start dive operations around 4am tomorrow morning. Until then we have a lot of preparations and briefings to do.”
French maritime and Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet
Paul Henri-Nargeolet, 73, was director of Underwater Research for E/M Group and RMS Titanic, Inc. He had successfully dived in a submersible to the site of the Titanic wreckage 37 times and according to EMGroup’s website, he “supervised the recovery of 5,000 artifacts,” which also says he’s “widely considered the leading authority on the wreck site.”
He was born in Chamonix, France, P.H. and lived in Africa for 13 years with his family and at 16 returned to France to complete his education in Paris.
One of the richest men in Pakistan—Shahzada Dawood, 48, who also served as vice chairman of Pakistani Engro Corporation, a Pakistani conglomerate founded as a fertilizer company, where he served for nearly 20 years. He was on the board of trustees for the Dawood Foundation, an education nonprofit, and on the board of the SETI Institute, a non-profit research organization.
His profile on the World Economic Forum site reads that Dawood had over two decades of experience “in corporate governance” and “ the transformation of industries, including growth and innovation opportunities through mergers and acquisitions of diversified public-listed companies across textiles, fertilizers, foods, and energy.”
Son of billionaire Shahzada Dawood— Suleman Dawood, 19, loved science fiction, solving Rubik’s Cubes and playing volleyball. He was a student at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
Shahzada Dawood’s older sister told media she was “absolutely heartbroken” over the deaths.
“I feel like I’ve been caught in a really bad film, with a countdown, but you didn’t know what you’re counting down to,” Azmeh Dawood said. “I personally have found it kind of difficult to breathe thinking of them.”
She also said her nephew Suleman told one of their relatives that he was “terrified” about the voyage. She told media that Suleman went on the trip with his dad because he wanted to him dad happy and it fell on the Father’s Day weekend.
“I am thinking of Suleman, who is 19, in there, just perhaps gasping for breath… It’s been crippling, to be honest,” she told the news outlet.