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Billionaire Plans to Visit the Titanic to Prove Industry Is Safer After OceanGate Implosion

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images and Madelgarius / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0
Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images and Madelgarius / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

As the one-year anniversary of the OceanGate Titan submersible catastrophe approaches, a new project to make the same trek to the Titanic shipwreck has been announced. The two men who intend to make the voyage are confident such a trip can be done safely and feel that the tragedy that occurred in 2023 should not deter explorers. Their voyage could change the now-wary public perception of deep-sea exploration.

They want to prove it can be done safely

The Titanic shipwreck.
The bow of the Titanic shipwreck. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of NOAA / Institute for Exploration / University of Rhode Island / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Larry Connor, a billionaire real estate investor, intends to make the more than 12,400-foot plunge to the Titanic shipwreck alongside Triton Submarine co-founder Patrick Lahey inside a two-person submersible. This announcement comes just a year after the OceanGate implosion that occurred in June 2023. “I want to show people worldwide that while the ocean is extremely powerful, it can be wonderful and enjoyable and really kind of life-changing if you go about it the right way,” Connor said.

Just a few days after the OceanGate incident, Connor called Lahey and encouraged him to build a better, safer sub that could make the trek. “[He said], you know, what we need to do is build a sub that can dive to [Titanic-level depths] repeatedly and safely and demonstrate to the world that you guys can do that, and that Titan was a contraption,'” Lahey explained.

Lahey set about designing a $20 million vessel he called the Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer, which Connor explained is capable of making the voyage to the shipwreck multiple times. “Patrick has been thinking about and designing this for over a decade. But we didn’t have the materials and technology,” Connor said. “You couldn’t have built this sub five years ago.” Despite their ambitious project, Connor did not provide a time when their voyage would take place.

Lahey was a critic of OceanGate

While it may seem odd that they would want to make the same trip because of the tragedy that occurred in 2023, it actually makes sense. Lahey was actually one of the many critics in the deep-sea adventure industry who warned OceanGate of their questionable safety standards. He called OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush’s approach “quite predatory.”

Early on, there were concerns about the safety of the Titan submersible. Pointedly, the company chose not to certify their vessel through any credible safety groups, likely contributing to the eventual disaster that would come. Had they certified with the American Bureau of Shipping or Det Norske Veritas in Europe, perhaps the tragedy could have been avoided.

The Titan implosion

Mural of the OceanGate victims.
A painting depicting the five people aboard the Titan submersible that went missing near the wreck of the Titanic. (Photo Credit: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP / Getty Images)

On June 18, 2023, the Titan submersible went missing while on an expedition to the Titanic shipwreck. Swiftly, authorities set up a search and rescue mission with a deadly time limit, as the vessel only had enough oxygen for 96 hours. On board were five passengers, including Rush, French Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, billionaire explorer Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, and his 19-year-old son, Sulaiman. 

Search groups from around the world spent the next several days trying to locate the missing submersible to no avail. On June 28, pieces of the submersible were recovered with what the US Coast Guard described as “presumed human remains.” It was clear a catastrophe had occurred. They reported that “the debris is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel.” All on board had died instantly in the implosion.

More from us: Gold Watch Worn by Richest Passenger Aboard Titanic Sells at Auction for Record-Breaking $1.5 Million

Now, we wait in anticipation to see when Connor and Lahey plan to make their voyage.

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Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!