Who Were the People aboard the Titan Submersible? EXPLAINED

The individuals who lost their lives aboard the Titan submersible in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this week were a well-known expert on the Titanic, an adventurer holding a world record, two members of a wealthy Pakistani family, and the CEO of the company leading the expedition to the famous shipwreck. The US Coast Guard confirmed that there were no survivors following the catastrophic implosion in the deep waters of the North Atlantic, according to a report by Associated Press.

Efforts to locate the submersible and gather information about the underwater incident were ongoing on Thursday, aided by a deep-sea robot that discovered debris near the Titanic wreckage. Rear Adm. John Mauger from the First Coast Guard District stated that search operations would continue, although the chances of finding the remains or recovering them remained uncertain.

The Titan submersible was reported as overdue on Sunday night, approximately 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, prompting an urgent international rescue mission. Time was of the essence due to concerns that the oxygen supply would be depleted by around 6 a.m. on Thursday.

These are the people who perished in the incident, according to a report by Associated Press:

STOCKTON RUSH

Although his background is in aerospace and technology, Rush founded OceanGate Inc. in 2009 to provide crewed submersibles for undersea researchers and explorers, according to the company’s website. Rush was the Titan’s pilot, said company spokesperson Andrew Von Kerens.

The private company based in Washington started bringing tourists to the Titanic in 2021 as part of its effort to chronicle the slow deterioration of the wreck.

“The ocean is taking this thing, and we need to document it before it all disappears or becomes unrecognizable,” Rush told The Associated Press in 2021.

In an interview with CBS News last year, Rush defended the safety of his submersible but said nothing is without risk.

“What I worry about most are things that will stop me from being able to get to the surface — overhangs, fish nets, entanglement hazard,” he said, adding that a good pilot can avoid such perils.

Rush became the youngest jet transport rated pilot in the world at age 19 in 1981, and flew commercial jets in college, according to his company biography. He joined McDonnell Douglas Corp. in 1984 as a flight test engineer. Over the past 20 years, he oversaw the development of multiple successful IP ventures.

Greg Stone, a longtime ocean scientist and a friend of Rush, called him “a real pioneer” in the innovation of submersibles.

“Stockton was a risk-taker. He was smart. He was, he had a vision, he wanted to push things forward,” Stone said Tuesday.

HAMISH HARDING

A British businessman, Harding lived in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Action Aviation, an aircraft brokering company for which Harding served as chairman, said he was one of the mission specialists, who paid to go on the expedition.

Harding was a billionaire adventurer who held three Guinness World Records, including the longest duration at full ocean depth by a crewed vessel. In March 2021, he and ocean explorer Victor Vescovo dived to the lowest depth of the Mariana Trench. In June 2022, he went into space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.

“Both the Harding family and the team at Action Aviation are very grateful for all the kind messages of concern and support from our friends and colleagues,” the company said in a statement.

Harding’s family said in a statement: ”He was one of a kind and we adored him… What he achieved in his lifetime was truly remarkable and if we can take any small consolation from this tragedy, it’s that we lost him doing what he loved.”

In a Facebook post Saturday, Harding said he was “proud” to be part of the mission.

“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,” he posted. “A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive (Sunday).”

Harding was “looking forward to conducting research” at the Titanic site, said Richard Garriott de Cayeux, the president of The Explorers Club, a group to which Harding belonged.

SHAHZADA AND SULEMAN DAWOOD

Father-and-son Shahzada and Suleman Dawood were members of one of Pakistan’s most prominent families. Their family had said in a statement that they were both aboard the vessel.

Their firm, Dawood Hercules Corp., based in Karachi, is involved in agriculture, petrochemicals and telecommunication infrastructure.

Shahzada Dawood also was on the board of trustees for the California-based SETI Institute that searches for extraterrestrial intelligence. The Dawoods lived in the UK, according to SETI.

Shahzada Dawood was also a member of the Global Advisory Board at the Prince’s Trust International, founded by Britain’s King Charles III to address youth unemployment.

He had degrees from the University of Buckingham in the United Kingdom and Philadelphia University (now Thomas Jefferson University) in the U.S.

Condolences poured in from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, government officials, friends and ordinary Pakistanis. Pakistani TV stations halted their routine broadcasts and shared the news. Salman Sufi, an adviser to Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, wrote on Twitter: “Very sad and unfortunate news. Prayers for the families of deceased. Mr Dawood and family are in our prayers.”

PAUL-HENRI NARGEOLET

Nargeolet was a former French navy officer who was considered a Titanic expert after making multiple trips to the wreckage over several decades.

He was director of underwater research for E/M Group and RMS Titanic Inc., had completed 37 dives to the wreck and supervised the recovery of 5,000 artifacts, according to his company profile.

RMS Titanic, Inc., the company that owns the salvage rights to the Titanic shipwreck, mourned the longtime employee known as “PH.”

“The maritime world has lost an iconic and inspirational leader in deep-sea exploration, and we have lost a dear and treasured friend,” the company said in a statement Thursday.

Friend and former colleague Matthew Tulloch said Nargeolet loved his work from the time they first collaborated in the 1990s up until Nargeolet’s death.

“I never got the impression that he was looking forward to retirement,” Tulloch said with a small laugh. “You sort of think of people as they retire, then they can go on and do things that they love to do. This was exactly that for him — I can’t think of anything that I’m aware of that he would enjoy doing more than traveling around and sharing information and his experiences with people.”

Longtime friend and colleague Christian Pétron hailed Nargeolet as “surely one of the world’s greatest explorers of the deeps.”

Speaking Friday to broadcaster France-Info, the retired diver and underwater filmographer said he and Nargeolet had had known each other for more than 40 years after meeting in the French navy, and made repeated dives to the Titanic together.

He opined that Nargeolet was aware of the risks, but would have been powered by a thirst for further exploration of the Titanic wreck and its fauna and flora.

“There are always extraordinary things. When you descend deeper than 1,000 meters, you always find unknown things, unknown animals,” he said. “There’s always something to find on a wreck like that, which is a genuine oasis on a sandy bottom where there is absolutely nothing.”

Nargeolet was expedition leader on the most technologically advanced dive to the Titanic in 2010, which used high-resolution sonar and 3D optical imaging on the Titanic’s bow and stern sections as well as the debris field.

While with the French Institute for Research and Exploitation of Sea, he led the first recovery expedition to the Titanic in 1987.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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