The UK billionaire is one of the five missing passengers onboard the submersible
A friend the British billionaire that was a passenger on the submersible that planned to dive to the underwater wreckage of the Titanic has revealed her concerns that the vessel is trapped on the sea bed.
Norwegian explorer Jannicke Mikkelsen said she was sure that Hamish Harding, 58, would be “calm” despite the crisis. There are four other people onboard the submersible, which at 4am on Sunday began descending to the Titanic’s wreckage, which sits nearly 13,000 feet below the water’s surface.
The $250,000 round trip usually takes eight hours, however concerns were raised just one hour and 45 minutes into the trip when contact with the mothership was lost.
Rescuers are now racing against time as they search for the submersible and its crew.
Mikkelsen said: “My biggest fear is knowing that they are trapped, without being able to get help.
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“There is no one who can reach him on the bottom.”
Cinematographer Mikkelsen, who specialises in extreme environments revealed her worry that the crew had not returned to the surface during their ascent window, MailOnline reports. US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger said on Monday (June 19) that based on information received from the vessel operator the submersible had 96 hours of emergency oxygen on board.
Mikkelsen told Chris Cuomo on NewsNation: “My fear is that they didn’t make their last ascent window. They didn’t. We are starting to make worst case scenarios.”
Titanic expedition leader G. Michael Harris said he knew multiple passengers, and did not offer a positive outlook on the situation.
He told Jesse Walters on Fox News that while there was oxygen on board and CO2 scrubbers, there was no miraculous solution.
He said: “Just not feeling good about it. When we deploy it’s usually a two and a half hour drop down to the wreck site itself.
“We go down 3,980 meters. We spiral down, a corkscrew action, about three degrees per second to land right basically in front of the bow of Titanic.
“Once we get down there we begin our grid searches and our decay and everything that goes on with Titanic.”
According to Harris the worst thing to happen would be an implosion of the hull around 3,200 meters.
Jannicke Mikkelsen described Harding as a mentor and a friend
“I don’t see anything that can happen at this point. When you are talking 6,000lbs per square inch, it is a dangerous environment.
“More people have been to outer space than this depth of the ocean.”
Harris said everything would have to be done “perfect by the book”, and that it was “not looking good”.
According to Mikkelsen Harding acted as a mentor to her, and knew the dangerous risk he took in the expedition.
She said: “Hamish is an explorer at heart and this is one of the things he wanted to explore, on his checklist.
“Hamish knows the risks before he starts.
“I know that Hamish will be calm, they will work together through their checklist of options.”
The mothership, named MV Polar Prince, left Newfoundland on Saturday with the destination being the spot above the Titanic wreck some 370 miles away.
After covering the distance, the sub submerged itself in the water in Sunday’s early hours.
Harding was accompanied by French Navy veteran Paul-Henry Nargeolet and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush on the submersible, with the other two passengers yet to be named.
It usually takes two and a half hours to descend to the wreck, and the vessel lost contact with the mothership an hour and 45 minutes into its downward journey.
A few potential causes of the disappearance have been suggested by analysts, who say the submersible could have lost power or sunk and became trapped in the wreckage.
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Initially some indicated it may have surfaced and was bobbing around in the water without power, however that becomes less likely as times continues to pass.
The vessel had 96 hours of air left as of Monday afternoon, with a race against time underway according to the US Coast Guard.
No rescue submarines in the US Coast Guard can reach the depths of the Titanic.
The Guinness World Record for the longest amount of time spent at the bottom of the sea is currently held by Harding, who set it in 2021 after diving to the deepest place on Earth – the Mariana Trench – and navigating it for four hours and 15 minutes.
It was one of three Guinness World Records the London-born billionaire has set.
Another of his records is for the covering the longest distance, three miles, at the bottom of the ocean.
Mikkelsen filmed Harding setting his first in 2019, as he circumnavigated the earth via North and South Poles in a Gulfstream 650ER business jet for the fastest recorded time.
Last year the father of two – a friend of Buzz Aldrin’s – went into space.
He said recently: “I used to read the book of Guinness World Records regularly as a child. I always wondered how I could get into it. I did not think I could do it.
“And I didn’t want to do something stupid-like setting a record for the number of ping-pong balls bounced in a day, or something like that.”
While the desperate search got underway on Monday, members of his family asked for prayers after the adventure did not go as planned.
Harding, a regular of hazardous expeditions, told an interviewer in 2021 how his submarine, named Challenger Deep, suffered a damaged thruster seven miles below the Pacific Ocean’s surface during his trip to the “truly spectacular” Mariana Trench.
He said: “The sub has many safety features, including four days’ reserve of oxygen, water and emergency rations. The only problem is that there is no other sub that is capable of going down there to rescue you. It will take three years to build another one.
“So, having four days of supply doesn’t make a difference really. f something goes wrong, you are not coming back.”
Harding, who runs an aviation company in Dubai, is also the owner of the unique distinction of taking the oldest man – Aldrin, 86 – and the youngest, his son, 12, to the South police.
“Buzz is an old friend of mine.
“We had always talked about going to the South Pole together and we finally did it in 2016.”
Harding, an only child, was born in Hammersmith, London, in 1964, before receiving degrees in natural science and chemical engineering from the Cambridge University.
In 2022, he was one of the six astronauts that reached space on Blue Origin’s fifth human spaceflight when he was aboard its New Shepard Rocket.
Prior to another trip to the North Pole just two months before going into space, Harding said: “People, especially as they grow older, tend to give up on their dreams. When I think of something unusual, I just try to find ways to make it happen.”