The U.S. Coast Guard and the tour company operating the missing Titanic exploration sub said Thursday that the five passengers are presumed dead.
The submersible Titan, which was on a mission with five men to visit the Titanic wreckage in the remote North Atlantic Ocean, went missing Sunday morning. The Coast Guard, which led the search and rescue operation, announced Thursday that debris found in the search area of the missing submersible was consistent with “catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber,” presumably killing all five people on board. Coast Guard officials said the families of the five crew members have all been notified.
Here’s a closer look at who was on board the Titan submersible:
Stockton Rush, the pilot, was also the chief executive of the OceanGate Explorations tour company, which he founded in 2009 to provide crewed submersibles for undersea research and exploration. He began bringing tourists to the Titanic wreckage site in 2021 to chronicle the deterioration of the luxury cruise liner that sank in 1912. “The ocean is taking this thing, and we need to document it before it all disappears or becomes unrecognizable,” he told The Associated Press in 2021.
Rush studied aerospace engineering as an undergraduate student at Princeton University, the Wall Street Journal reported, and earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley. He said he had traveled to the Titanic shipwreck several times.
Shahzada and Suleman Dawood
British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his 19-year-old son Suleman also embarked on the Titanic exploration mission, which left on Father’s Day. The Dawoods are one of Pakistan’s most prominent families, and their Karachi-based company Dawood Hercules Corp. is involved in agriculture, petrochemicals and telecommunication infrastructure, among other ventures. Suleman had recently finished his first year at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, where he was studying business.
Earlier in the week, the Dawood family released a statement saying, “We are very grateful for the concern being shown by our colleagues and friends.”
They leave behind Shahzada’s wife, Christine, and his 17-year old daughter, Alina.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry offered tweeted condolences to the family and fellow passengers on Thursday: “Our deepest condolences to the Dawood family and the family of other passengers on the sad news about the fate of Titanic submersible in the North Atlantic. We appreciate the multinational efforts over the last several days in search of the vessel.”
British businessman and billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding, 58, the chairman of Action Aviation, was also on board. Harding holds three Guinness World Records — including the longest duration at full ocean depth by a crewed vessel, as well as the fastest circumnavigation of the Earth via the North and South Poles. In March 2021, he and ocean explorer Victor Vescovo dived to the lowest depth of the Mariana Trench. Last year, he also flew on a 2022 Blue Origin flight to space.
The day before the Titan set off, Harding wrote in a Facebook post that 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).”
He was married with two sons, and lived in Dubai.
Former French navy officer and world-renowned Titanic specialist Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, was also part of the crew. He was considered a Titanic expert, and had completed 37 successful journeys to the ship’s wreckage site, as well as leading the first recovery expedition to the Titanic in 1987. He was director of underwater research for E/M Group and RMS Titanic Inc., and had supervised the recovery of 5,000 Titanic artifacts.
Mathieu Johann, his friend and literary representative, told the Wall Street Journal that, “No one knows the wreckage of the Titanic better than him. Maybe James Cameron,” in reference to the director of the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic.”
The Associated Press contributed.