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Four Of Titan’s Passengers Were True Explorers, One Did It For His Father

OceanGate Expedition's submersible 'Titan' was on an expedition to Titanic's shipwreck when it imploded. All five persons onboard were killed.

Titanic Sub: Lost At Sea
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Suleman Dawood, the 19-year-old son of businessman Shahzada Dawood was “terrified” to board 'Titan' submersible but went on the adventure for his father. The father-son duo was among the five people who died onboard Titan that had a “catastrophic implosion” near the Titanic wreckage in the North Atlantic the same day it disappeared.

Debris was discovered after a four-day-long massive international search and the US Coast Guard confirmed there were no chances of survival.

The disappearance of the submersible and the plight of its passengers –British adventurer Hamish Harding, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, French veteran explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman– grabbed the attention of a global audience and was on the front page of every newspaper and news website, more so because all the adventurers onboard belonged to the ultra-rich section of society. 

Who were the five passengers? What did they think of the expedition?

A renowned Titanic expert, a world record-holding adventurer, two members of one of Pakistan's wealthiest families and the CEO of the company leading the expedition – the passengers onboard the submersible were no ordinary people and they chose to pay hundreds of millions to embark on their journey to the world's most famous shipwreck, the Titanic. 

While some of them were thrilled to explore the Titanic wreckage, others were concerned about the criticism the mission had received prior to its launch. However, all of them went ahead with it.

Stockton Rush

Stockton Rush, who has a background in aerospace and technology, founded OceanGate Inc. in 2009 to provide crewed submersibles for undersea researchers and explorers, according to the company's website.

At the age of 19, Rush became the youngest jet transport-rated pilot in the world in 1981, and flew commercial jets in college. He joined McDonnell Douglas Corp. in 1984 as a flight test engineer. But when his dreams were to become fly to space were cut short, Rush took it upon himself to expand underwater exploration. He saw his company as “SpaceX for the ocean”, according to his colleagues.

Rush was Titan’s pilot and he went against ocean experts who, according to The New York Times, sent him letters warning him of the potentially “catastrophic” problems of his “experimental” approach to the mission.

Hamish Harding

A British businessman living in Dubai and chairman of aircraft brokering company Action Aviation, Hamish Harding held three Guinness World Records, including the longest duration at full ocean depth by a crewed vessel. He went into the expedition as one of the mission specialists, according to his company.

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

Harding died “doing what he loved”, his family said. They are proud of him for his lifelong achievements.

Paul-Henri Nargeolet

Popularly known as “Mr Titanic”, Nargeolet was a former French navy officer, a deep sea explorer and expert, who made more than 35 trips to the wreckage of the historic British passenger liner over several decades. While with the French Institute for Research and Exploitation of Sea, Nargeolet led the first recovery expedition to the Titanic in 1987. 

In an interview with NBC News, his stepson John Nathaniel Paschall said that Paul-Henri "knew the risks that were possible of this expedition" but he was “fearless”. Paschall told NBC that he "thought nothing" of the latest expedition because the explorer had already taken so many trips to the shipwreck over the years. 

Mourning his loss, in another interview with CNN’s Andrew Cooper, Paschall said "The Titanic is something that I know he'll forever be connected with it, with his work."

Shahzada and Suleman Dawood

Shahzada Dawood was from one of the most influential families in Pakistan. He operated the family firm Dawood Hercules Corp., based in Karachi, which is involved in agriculture, petrochemicals and telecommunication infrastructure. 

Dawood also was on the board of trustees for the California-based SETI Institute which searches for extraterrestrial intelligence, and 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.

As a Father’s Day bonding trip, Suleman Dawood, 19, had joined the vessel with his father even though he was concerned about its safety. The duo lived in the UK. The teenager was enrolled at the Strathclyde Business School and had recently completed his first year at the university in Glasgow.

In an interview with Sky News, Suleman’s Amsterdam-based aunt, Azmeh Dawood, said that her nephew was “very, very not into doing it” but went ahead with the trip as a “Father’s Day bonding experience”. She said that he wanted to please his dad who was a Titanic aficionado.

Azmeh, who is Shahzada’s elder sister, told NBC that she was left in disbelief when she heard the news. "It's an unreal situation."

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The wreck of the Titanic, the infamous ship that sank in April 1912, lies around 700 kilometres south of St. John's, Newfoundland, in Canada. Oceangate’s Titan, was found roughly 1,600 feet from Titanic's wreckage. Experts say the implosion happened within microseconds and the explorers onboard probably did not even realise it.

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