The Titan submersible Tragedy: A Comprehensive Report on the Submerged Disaster and its Five Victims
Photo credit: OceanGate/FILE-CNN
On a voyage to see the wreckage of the Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean, five men, including one teenager, were declared dead days after they left for a voyage in a 22-foot submersible. The entire crew of the Titan submersible, including its founder and CEO who was the pilot in the mission, were “lost at sea” . The U.S. Coast Guard announced that rescue teams had found debris from the ship on the ocean floor “consistent with catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber.
The Titan submersible embarked on a mission to dive to the Titanic wreck from St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. The submersible was scheduled to start its descent on Sunday, and it was originally aimed to start at 8am GMT/4am ET, but it actually started its descent later according to the US Coast Guard.
Communications between the submersible and the surface vessel were lost 1 hour and 45 minutes after starting its descent. The submersible was scheduled to return to the surface at 7pm GMT/3pm ET.
Search efforts were underway on Monday, with US and Canadian ships and planes swarming the area and deploying sonar buoys that could monitor to a depth of almost 4,000 meters. France also offered assistance with the search, deploying a ship equipped with a deep-sea diving vessel on Tuesday
On Thursday, OceanGate, the owner and operator of the submersible, announced that the five passengers aboard had died. The US Coast Guard reported that the pressure chamber in the submersible had failed, causing the craft to implode, and that their deaths were immediate.
The victims were identified as Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet. The search for the debris of the submersible was difficult due to the unforgiving environment on the seafloor, and there was no commitment to its recovery.
Debris discovered in the search area for the missing vessel was consistent with a “catastrophic implosion”. The Coast Guard said that a debris field was discovered near the wreck of the Titanic earlier on Thursday morning.
The passengers were well known for their devotion to extreme exploration, desire to collect artifacts from the Titanic or their exorbitant wealth. Each paid $250,000 to ride on the submersible. OceanGate, the company that hosted the mission on the Titan submersible to the Titanic, said that the entire crew – including its founder and CEO who was the pilot in the mission – were “lost at sea.
Stockton Rush, 61, founded OceanGate in 2009. He was also the co-founder of OceanGate Foundation, a non-profit organization “which aims to catalyze emerging marine technology to further discoveries in marine science, history, and archaeology,” according to the company’s website.
Hamish Harding, 58, was chairman of Action Aviation, a global sales company in business aviation. He held three Guinness World Records related to his explorations by plane and into the deep ocean. He had also been to space.
Paul-Henry Nargeolet, 73, was director of Underwater Research for E/M Group and RMS Titanic, Inc. He successfully dived in a submersible to the site of the Titanic wreckage 37 times and “supervised the recovery of 5,000 artifacts,” according to EMGroup’s website, which also says he’s “widely considered the leading authority on the wreck site”.
Shahzada Dawood, 48, was on the board of trustees for the Dawood Foundation, an education nonprofit, according to the World Economic Forum, the board of the SETI Institute, a non-profit research organization, and he served as vice chairman on the board of Pakistani Engro Corporation.
Suleman Dawood was Shahzada Dawood’s son, 19, loved science fiction, solving Rubik’s Cubes and playing volleyball, the New York Times reported. He was studying at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, according to the BBC.
OceanGate said in a statement that “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.