A British explorer who has journeyed the depths of the ocean and blasted off to space is feared to be one of the passengers aboard a missing submarine that set off to explore the wreckage of the Titanic and is now the subject of a frantic search-and-rescue mission.
Hamish Harding, chairman of a Dubai-based company called Action Aviation and reportedly a billionaire, announced on social media over the weekend that he joined OceanGate Expeditions as a specialist for a journey to the Titanic’s remains some 2.5 miles down on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean about 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
“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,” said a post to Instagram.
“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.”
BREAKING: One of the crew members on the commercial sub that has gone missing near the wreck of the Titanic has been named as Hamish Harding
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The post also said the sub team included some “legendary explorers” with more than 30 dives to the Titanic since the 1980s. One person who was mentioned was French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet, though it is unclear as of press time whether he was aboard the missing vessel.
Brian Szasz, Harding’s stepson, posted to Facebook, asking people to pray for his stepfather, according to the Daily Mail. “Thoughts and prayers for my stepfather Hamish Harding as his Submarine has gone missing exploring Titanic. Search and rescue mission is underway,” the post said.
Harding, who is reportedly a resident of the United Arab Emirates, is known for his adventures across the planet and beyond in recent years. He took part in a Blue Origin spaceflight, explored the ocean depths of the Mariana Trench, and visited the South Pole, the New York Post reported.
The U.S. Coast Guard said it is searching for a 21-foot submersible from the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince about 900 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. “The 5 person crew submerged Sunday morning, and the crew of the Polar Prince lost contact with them approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes into the vessel’s dive,” a Twitter account for the U.S. Coast Guard added.
During a press conference Monday afternoon, Rear Adm. John Mauger, commander of the First Coast Guard District, said the search is being conducted in cooperation with Canada on the surface and underwater with the help of sonar buoys. He declined to identify anyone who is onboard the submarine, but noted that officials are reaching out to the families of the crew. Mauger also said the ship has a life support system with oxygen lasting up to 96 hours and that there may be as little as 70 hours left.
‘We anticipate that there is somewhere between 70 and 96 hours of oxygen available at this point’
The Commander of the First Coast Guard District has provided details on the search for a missing tourist submersible
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The Titanic sank during its maiden voyage in April 1912 after hitting an iceberg while making the journey from Southampton, England, to New York City, according to History.com. With the vessel sinking and passengers scrambling for a spot on a lifeboat, more than 1,500 people of the roughly 2,240 aboard the Titanic died.
Several decades later, in 1985, a joint French-American expedition found the wreckage of the ship, located some 13,000 feet underwater on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Further exploration, a blockbuster movie, and deep-sea tourism ensued.
OceanGate Expeditions, a company which offers trips to the sunken Titanic wreckage for up to $250,000 per-person in a vessel that can seat up to five people, released a statement expressing gratitude for the help in searching for the wayward ship amid concerns about how much air remains for the crew.
“Our entire focus is on the crew members in the submersible and their families, we are deeply thankful for the extensive assistance we have received from several government agencies and deep sea companies in our efforts to reestablish contact with the submersible,” the company said.