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'Thrillionaire' announces new Titanic expedition a year after sub disaster

Author
Thomas Bywater,
Publish Date
Wed, 29 May 2024, 12:46pm
A Triton X 3300/3 Mk II a visiting a wreck on the ocean floor. Photo / Allison Markova, Triton
A Triton X 3300/3 Mk II a visiting a wreck on the ocean floor. Photo / Allison Markova, Triton

'Thrillionaire' announces new Titanic expedition a year after sub disaster

Author
Thomas Bywater,
Publish Date
Wed, 29 May 2024, 12:46pm

A US billionaire has declared his intention to pay for a submarine trip to the wreck of the Titanic to prove it can be done safely, one year after the OceanGate disaster that killed all five people on board. 

Larry Connor, a thrill-seeking property tycoon from Ohio, has been to space and to the deepest point of the ocean. His latest expedition will accompany the CEO of Triton Submarines, Patrick Lahey. The mini submersibles company is on a mission to vindicate the reputation and safety record of deep sea sightseeing. 

Lahey had previously described the OceanGate submarine as a “monstrosity”, and knew one of the passengers of the ill-fated mission, Paul-Henri Nareolet, personally. 

“I tried to do everything I could to discourage him from going out there. I know many people that knew him did the same thing,” he told BOAT magazine. 

Now the submariner and business owner has a chance to revisit the wreck of the Titanic, in a 4000/2 model two-person submarine alongside Connor. 

The magnate was dubbed a “thrillionaire” by Forbes, for his expensive taste in adventure. He has funded trips to the Mariana Trench and was one of the first space tourists to visit the International Space Station in 2022. 

“You’ve got to be willing to take calculated risk, not stupid risk,” he told the magazine. 

Their vessel, the $30 million Abyssal Explorer, has a safe dive rating of 4000 metres - 200 metres more than is needed to visit the wreck of the Titanic. 

June marks the anniversary of the disaster which killed five at the bottom of the North Atlantic, including four paying adventure tourists. While the exact dive date has not been revealed, the OceanGate disaster is still fresh in the minds of some. 

The company’s chief executive, Stockton Rush, was on board when the submarine was crushed. Other passengers killed included explorer Paul Henri-Nargeolet, Hamish Harding, Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman. 

Despite this high profile tragedy, there are still adventurous tourists with deep pockets, willing to keep the deep-sea submarine industry afloat. 

Connor told the Wall Street Journal’s Kevin Koenig that he had been planning the expedition for over a decade. 

“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,” he said. 

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