Who is Hamish Harding? Billionaire adventurer missing on Titanic tourist sub


Five people, including billionaire Hamish Harding, are missing after a small tourist submersible vanished somewhere around the Titanic wreckage.

A small submersible, that is around the size of a minivan, and costs $US250,000 per ride has gone missing around the wreck of the infamous Titanic. The vessel, owned by OceanGate, is operated by a single button and is described as “experimental”.

It is believed five crew boarded a submersible, owned by OceanGate Expeditions, for an underwater tour of the ship’s wreckage in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday. But contact was lost with the vessel about one hour and 45 minutes into the trip, the United States Coast Guard said in a press conference on Tuesday morning.

The expeditions usually include three paying passengers, along with two crew members to lead the group.  OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, French mariner and Director of the Underwater Research Program for the RMS Titanic Paul-Henry Nargeolet and Harding have been named as three of the five missing crew.

OceanGate has been attempting missions since at least 2017, and successfully reached the Titanic wreck for the first time in 2021, and then again in 2022. It has 18 expeditions planned starting this summer of 2023, according to its website. Missions take approximately 10 days, eight of which are at sea.

Who is UK billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding?

UK billionaire Harding, 58, is a businessman, aviator and “space tourist”, and runs Action Aviation which sells commercial and private aircraft.

He has three Guinness World Records next to his name, including the greatest distance covered at full ocean depth and greatest duration spent at full ocean depth.

Mr Harding reached the deepest place on earth, the Mariana Trench, which is about 36,000 feet or 11 kilometres, in 2021 using a two-man submarine.

His trip to the Titanic’s wreckage was the latest in a string of adventures, which has seen him visit the South Pole numerous times, fly into space on Blue Origin’s fifth human-crewed flight in 2022 and many other high-risk pursuits.

In social media posts Sunday, Harding said the group had reached the spot above the Titanic and planned to dive at 4 a.m. Monday morning. This week’s expedition was “likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023” because Newfoundland experienced a historically bad winter, Harding said on Instagram.

“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. A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow,” Harding wrote.

Hamish Harding’s eerie last Instragram post | Source: Instagram

The OceanGateTitan is designed to carry five people and has “life support” for 96 hours for the crew, according to the company’s website.

Harding’s stepson, Brian Szasz, said in a now-deleted post on Facebook: He “has gone missing on (the) submarine.”

The search continues

A highly-sophisticated P-8 Poseidon aircraft with underwater detection capabilities has been deployed, Rear Adm John W Mauger from the US Coast Guard said at a press conference.

He said teams were conducting their searches 900 miles (1450km) east of Cape Cod, and that the Canadian armed forces and commercial vessels were in the area.

“It is a remote area and a challenge (…) but we are deploying all available assets to make sure we can locate the craft and rescue the people onboard,” he told a press conference.

Mauge said planes had been dropping sonar buoys to listen for underwater noise and scan the ocean in case the submersible had surfaced.

A search and rescue crew was dispatched Monday morning after the group was reported missing.

This is a developing story. More to come.

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