The three people on board the missing Titanic vessel are believed to be a UK billionaire, a French submersible pilot, and the CEO of a crewed submersibles provider. OceanGate Expeditions, which deploys vessels for deep sea expeditions, has said that one of its submersibles was missing in the Atlantic Ocean after it took its passengers to the scene of the wreck of the Titanic.
The search remains ongoing, Sky News reports. UK billionaire Hamish Harding, 58, was announced as one of the missing passengers by his stepson Brian Szasz, who wrote on Facebook that his step father was in his “thoughts and prayers”.
French submersible pilot Paul-Henry Nargeolet and founder of OceanGate Expeditions Stockton Rush, were also on board on the vessel, Sky News understands.
It remains unclear the total number of people on board, however the capacity of the submersible is five, made up of a pilot and four guests.
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Mr Harding is the Chairman of Action Aviation – a sales and operations company offering a variety of services in the industry of business aviation. On Sunday Mr Harding posted on social media that he was going to join OceanGate Expeditions – the company supplying the vessel – as a mission specialist.
According to Harding bad weather in Newfoundland, Canada meant that the expedition was likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic this year. Mr Harding, who is based in the United Arab Emirates at his company’s headquarters, had described himself as a world explorer on social media.
He currently holds the Guinness World Record for the quickest circumnavigation of the Earth via the North and South Poles by aircraft, clocking in at 46 hours, 40 minutes and 22 seconds.
Last year Mr Harding partook in the fifth human space flight by Blue Origin – a US aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos.
Stockton Rush meanwhile is the founder and CEO of OceanGate INC, which provides manned submersible services to allow researchers and explorers to access the vast resources of the oceans. Rush, who trained as a pilot, became the youngest jet transport rated pilot in the world at the age of 19.
He is a founder and current member of non-profit organisation OceanGate Foundation’s board of trustees, whose goal is to catalyse arising marine technology to continue discoveries in marine science, history and archaeology.
Mr Rush spoke about visiting the Titanic wreck in an interview with Sky News in February.
He said: “What really strikes you is how beautiful it is. You don’t normally see that on a shipwreck.
“It is an amazingly beautiful wreck.”
When questioned if it is possible to go inside the wreckage, Rush responded: “You can see inside, we dipped down and saw the grand staircase and saw some of the chandeliers still hanging.
“Next year we are hoping to send a small robot inside but for now we stay on the outside.”
Former French Navy commander Paul Henry-Nargeolet served for 25 years, during which he became the captain of the deep submergence group of the navy.
According to The Five Deeps Expedition, a company which gathers scientists, engineers and submersible operators for missions, Nargeolet joined the French Institute for Research and Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) after leaving the navy.
Several expeditions to the Titanic site had already been led by Mr Nargeolet, who has taken part in multiple scientific and technical expeditions across the world.