World-Record Breaker, Business Leaders Missing on Titanic Tour

Five people are on board a submersible vessel that has gone missing in the North Atlantic during an expedition to the Titanic shipwreck.

(Bloomberg) — Five people are on board a submersible vessel that has gone missing in the North Atlantic during an expedition to the Titanic shipwreck. 

The group includes Hamish Harding, founder of investment firm Action Group and an avid adventurer. The 58-year-old Briton holds three Guinness World Records, including the longest time spent traversing the deepest part of the ocean — the Mariana Trench — on a single dive, and the fastest navigation of Earth via the North and South Poles by plane. 

Others on the missing Titan vessel include Stockton Rush, founder of OceanGate Expeditions, the company that put on the trip to the Titanic. Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, members of one of the most prominent business families in Pakistan, are also on board, their relatives confirmed in a statement. The pilot of the sub is Frenchman Paul Henry Nargeolet, according to reports. 

Harding, whose birthday is this coming Saturday, wrote in a June 18 post on Instagram that this was likely to be the only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023 “due to the worst weather in Newfoundland in 40 years.”

“A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow,” he wrote. 

Read More: Search Underway for Titanic-Wreck Submersible With Five Crew 

The US Coast Guard said it received a call Sunday from the Titan’s command ship saying that contact had been lost. Planes have been dispatched as part of the search. According to OceanGate’s website, the Titan has a life-support system that can sustain a five-person crew for 96 hours. 

Here is some more information on the crew:

Hamish Harding

Harding is an accomplished businessman who founded UK- and Dubai-based private equity company Action Group in 2002. The business includes Action Aviation, which offers aircraft brokerage, management and financing services. 

His world record for longest time at the bottom of the ocean came in March 2021, when he spent 4 hours 15 minutes on the sea floor of Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench in a submergence vehicle. That’s a depth of 10,930 meters (35,850 feet). His fastest circumnavigation via both poles took 46 hours and 40 minutes and was done in July 2019. He was the pilot and mission director. 

Harding’s other Guinness World Record is for the longest distance traveled along the deepest part of the ocean — 4.634 kilometers (2.88 miles), which he did during the Mariana Trench dive in 2021. He also went to the edge of space last year with Blue Origin LLC, the American company founded by Inc.’s Jeff Bezos.

Harding graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in natural sciences and chemical engineering. He is married and has two children. 

Stockton Rush

Rush, president of OceanGate, hoped to make the Titanic more accessible with visits to the wreckage aboard his privately owned five-person sub. The initial goal was to take paying guests to the site on weekly visits from May to September, coupling the trips with research efforts that allow passengers to contribute as citizen scientists.  

Rush, who augmented inherited wealth via angel and venture investing, has a degree from Princeton University in aerospace engineering and an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Now in his early 60s, Rush became the youngest jet transport-rated pilot in the world when, at 19, he obtained his Captain’s rating at the United Airlines Jet Training Institute in 1981, according to his biography on the OceanGate website.

He worked with Boeing Co. on an early design of the Titan carbon-fiber sub and then with NASA.

He has experienced aborted trips to the Titanic wreckage site in the past — his sub was hit by lightning in 2018, destroying its electrical system and scuttling the mission. A second attempt ended unsuccessfully the next year because of issues with the “mother ship” used to transport the team and equipment.

While he initially targeted space, and modeled his efforts after Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, Rush said he realized that his desire to discover new lifeforms and go where no man had gone before was more likely in the ocean.

Read More: What It’s Like on Board the Missing Titanic Submersible: Q&A

Shahzada and Suleman Dawood

The Dawoods are members of one of Pakistan’s most prominent families, which released a statement Tuesday confirming they are on board the Titan. 

“Contact has been lost with their submersible craft and there is limited information available. A rescue effort that is being jointly led by multiple government agencies and deep-sea companies is underway to reestablish contact with the submersible and bring them back safely,” it said. 

“We are very grateful for the concern being shown by our colleagues and friends and would like to request everyone to pray for their safety while granting the family privacy at this time. The family is well looked after and are praying to Allah for the safe return of their family members.”

Shahzada Dawood is vice chairman of Engro Corp., which has businesses stretching from fertilizers to power generation. He graduated from the University of Buckingham with a law degree in 1998 and from Philadelphia University with a Master’s in textile marketing in 2000. 

Paul Henry Nargeolet

Nargeolet is a preeminent diver and considered to be the world’s leading expert on the Titanic wreckage and its debris field, which stretches 25 square nautical miles. He is director of underwater research for Experiential Media Group, or E/M Group, and RMS Titanic Inc., and has completed dozens of submersible dives to the crash site. 

He was born in Chamonix, France, and lived with his family in Africa for 13 years, completed his studies in Paris and spent 22 years in the French Navy, rising to rank of commander, according to his biography on the E/M Group’s website. He led the first recovery expedition to the Titanic in 1987 after joining the French Institute for Research and Exploitation of Sea. 

Nargeolet spoke with the Titanic Channel about what would happen to someone stuck at the wreckage site, saying the cold would be one of the greatest dangers and pointing out that explorers are aware of the risks. 

–With assistance from Faseeh Mangi.

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