On June 18, a small submersible named “Titan” dived in the sea about 1,450 kilometers east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, carrying five passengers to visit the wreck of the “Titanic”.
The event was organized by the US “Ocean Gate” exploration company. Since 2010, the company has focused on providing underwater sightseeing services for the rich. For this trip, each passenger needs to pay 250,000 US dollars (about 1.8 million yuan).
After 1 hour and 45 minutes, “Titan” lost contact with the surface ships, causing concern. The 5 people on the “Titan” are not small: the British tycoon Hamish Harding, the British tycoon Dawood and his son, the French explorer Paul-Henri Nagilette, and the founder and CEO of “Ocean Gate” Stockton Rush.
On June 22, the search and rescue team found five pieces of the wreckage of the “Titanic” 500 meters away from the wreckage of the “Titanic”. Search and rescue personnel determined that the “Titan” suffered a catastrophic implosion, and all five crew members were killed.
In the sci-fi film “The Abyss” filmed by the director of the movie “Titanic”, Cameron, the submersible cannot withstand the huge pressure of the deep sea and directly implodes. American oceanographer David Gallo analyzed that some of the “Titan” fragments will sink to the bottom of the sea and some will surface, but large pieces may not be visible from the air. The industry expects that the relevant investigation is very complicated and may take one and a half to two years.
The rich man who “goes to the sea”
Among the millionaires killed, the British explorer Hamish Harding is the most eye-catching.
When he was young, he worked as a business jet pilot and loved to wear dark blue expedition suits. Later, he turned to business and served as the chairman of an airline in Dubai. At the same time, he founded the Explorers Club in New York, which gathered many explorers and scientists, and launched many world-famous expeditions.
Harding himself has set a number of expedition records: he once flew around the world by plane through the north and south poles, setting a Guinness world record of 46 hours, 40 minutes and 22 seconds; Overlooking the earth”; he also took a submersible to dive into the deepest Mariana Trench on the earth in 2021, and conducted a deep-sea exploration of up to 4 hours and 15 minutes, which is “the longest time spent in a single dive through the deepest part of the earth”…
Harding is excited about the sightseeing trip — something he’s always wanted. Before setting off, he wrote on social media: “I am finally able to join the ‘Ocean Gate’ expedition, I will explore the wreck of the ‘Titanic, I am very proud.”
On the morning of June 18, Harding, 58, boarded the Titan as a “mission specialist”. His blond hair was combed meticulously as usual. According to the plan, he will spend the next week watching closely the wreck of the “Titanic” which sank to the bottom of the sea 111 years ago.
On this day, the weather is not very good. Together with four companions, Harding sank into the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, sinking all the way, never looking back.
Sadly, during Harding’s absence, his adopted son, Brian Zass, did not appear to be in a hurry. Zas said: “My prayers are with my stepfather and I am deeply concerned. He has disappeared while exploring the site of the ‘Titanic’s wreck. The search and rescue operation is underway.” But instead he headed to San Diego to see the American punk band Blink-182 concert. He also shared a photo of himself standing outside the venue on social media, smiling brightly in red. Zhasi deleted the post urgently after it aroused public condemnation.
Compared with Zas, those netizens who have never met Harding are more concerned about his fate. Harding is a “licensed pilot, aviation legend, three-time Guinness World Record holder, explorer and entrepreneur”. He is optimistic and cheerful, passionate about philanthropy, participated in activities to protect wild animals and reduce malaria in Africa, and founded a non-profit organization dedicated to world exploration and science education for young people. These acts of kindness made many people regret Harding’s death even more.
sunk with the cube
Dawood, a Pakistani-British businessman, and his 19-year-old son Suleiman were also on board the Titan. The day the father and son took the “Titan” coincided with Father’s Day, and Suleiman wanted to spend the holiday with his father in the deep sea. Unexpectedly, the father and son went to the underworld together.
Dawood was born in Pakistan in 1975, immigrated to the UK, studied law at the University of Buckingham, and studied for a master’s degree in textile marketing at the University of Philadelphia in 2000.
The Dawood family is one of Pakistan’s wealthiest families and owns two listed companies, Pakistan’s largest energy company Engelo and Dawood Hercules, which manufactures chemicals. Dawood served as vice chairman of the board of directors of both companies, and his father Hussein Dawood served as chairman.
Dawood had a very good personal relationship with King Charles III of England. He is a member of the Global Advisory Board of Charles III’s charity, The Prince’s Trust, and was one of the founders of the British Asia Trust.
Dawood and his wife Christina have a son and a daughter, and the family lives in Surbiton, Surrey, England. There, they have a house worth 3.3 million pounds (about 30.35 million yuan). The family has just returned from a trip to Canada, and now there are only orphans and widows left in the family. When the neighbor was interviewed by the media, he called the family the “best people” he had ever met.
The hostess, Christina, focuses on gardening, while the Dawoods share a passion for science fiction. In 2020, Dawood joined the board of directors of the Institute for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence in California, USA, which is dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life. According to the family, Dawood was interested in “exploring different natural habitats”.
Suleiman is a university student and “a big fan of science fiction literature and new trends”. When boarding the “Titan”, he was obsessed with the Rubik’s Cube, and he deliberately brought one, and was going to apply for the Guinness World Record of “solving the Rubik’s Cube by the wreckage of the Titanic”. Dawood put on his video camera, ready to capture his son’s record-breaking moment. Today, the father and son are swallowed by the deep sea.
Another victim on the “Titan” was the 77-year-old French former naval officer, legendary explorer, and senior submarine pilot Paul-Henri Nagilette. As early as 1987, he participated in the salvage mission of the wreck of the “Titanic”, which was the first time he saw the wreck of the “Titanic” covered with coral in the deep sea. He has been obsessed with the legendary cruise ship ever since. In the following 36 years, Najilet participated in many wreck tours and was known as “Mr. Titanic”.
The miracle never happened
“Ocean Gate” CEO Rush is also on the “Titan”.
In February of this year, Rush was interviewed by the media. When talking about visiting the wreck of the “Titanic”, he said: “The thing that is really impressive is that it is so beautiful. You don’t usually see that on a sunken ship. This is a shipwreck. Very beautiful shipwreck.” His wife Wendy is a descendant of the Strauss, who died on the Titanic. At that time, they gave up the chance of survival to women and children, and they hugged each other on the bed and were submerged by sea water. Wendy herself has participated in the investigation of the wreck of the “Titanic” three times and is the communications director of “Ocean Gate”.
At that time, the White Star Line, the owner of the “Titanic”, was extremely confident in the safety of the cruise ship. Rush seems to have such “confidence”. He once said in an interview: “After the test is completed, I firmly believe that the (‘Titan) submarine is invulnerable.” The reporter joked: “‘The captain said so when the Titanic made its maiden voyage.” Rush responded with a smile: “Yes.”
But the public has long been concerned about the safety of the Titan. “OceanGate” has faced lawsuits, with former company employee David Lockridge alleging “serious safety issues” with the Titan. According to a 2021 court document, OceanGate’s lawyers said the Titan had “unparalleled safety features” and that the company had “signed a $5 million (approximately 36.07 million) agreement with the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory to Yuan RMB) contract for detailed design and development work”. But the University of Washington said the lab had never been involved in the design or development of the Titan and that its work “only involved shallow water experiments.”
The “Titan” is the size of a truck, usually equipped with an emergency oxygen supply for about 4 days, and can dive to a depth of 4,000 meters. However, the US media has long questioned its “technical content”: there are no seats, and passengers sit cross-legged on the floor. The interior is empty, and the operations are all controlled by game console-like controllers.
CBS reporter David Pogue, who was on the “Titan” last year, said that even if the “Titan” floats to the surface, it must wait for the staff to open the airtight hatch from the outside, and the occupants cannot escape on their own. During his trip, the “Titan” also lost contact for several hours.
Additionally, the Titan is not registered as a U.S. vessel, nor with any of the international safety regulators, and is not subject to classification by maritime industry groups, which typically set standards for things like hull construction. The Titan incorporates many new technologies, some of which have no industry standard yet. For example, the carbon fiber composite material used for the hull is stronger and lighter than steel, giving the submersible a natural buoyancy, but it is also more prone to sudden collapse under pressure.
U.S. investigators said that they may propose civil or criminal penalties to the prosecution based on the findings of the investigation. But the prosecution of those responsible for the accident is also expected to be complicated by difficulties in determining jurisdiction.
In addition to security issues, the “Ocean Gate” company is also facing many controversies. For example, some scholars worry that commercial “adventure tourism” will destroy the deep-sea environment where the wreck of the “Titanic” is located. Rush was unimpressed. He believes that deep-sea commercial travel is similar to space travel, which will help expand the application scope of diving equipment in the current industrial industry. He also didn’t think passengers were paying “astronomical prices”. “It’s a tiny fraction of the cost of space travel.”
Rush, the pilot, uses a gamepad-like controller to take the Titan down to the depths, where it disappears into darkness.