Daughter of 'Mr Titanic' killed in Titan tragedy pays tribute to father one year on from disaster

17 June 2024, 10:47

French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet was one of the five passengers on board Titan
French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet was one of the five passengers on board Titan. Picture: Alamy/PenNews

By Will Conroy

The daughter of one of those who died in the Titan tragedy has paid tribute to her father and said he died doing what he loved most, almost a year on from the accident.

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French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, was on board when the submersible suffered what the US Coastguard described as a “catastrophic implosion" in June 2023.

The implosion is thought to have instantly killed all five passengers as they were on a trip to the wreckage of the Titanic.

Ahead of the first anniversary, Mr Nargeolet’s daughter Sidonie Nargeolet, 40, said he must have been “super happy” and he had a “very good death”.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, she said her father died doing his favourite thing and was “healthy with his mind intact”.

Ms Nargelet said her father was “happy” when she last spoke to him as he arrived on the Polar Prince from which the sub launched.

However, she was told the Titan was missing at 6am the next day and “cried for 10 minutes”.

Ms Nargeolet went sailing with her father in the Mediterranean before the accident.
Ms Nargeolet went sailing with her father in the Mediterranean before the accident. Picture: PenNews

The other passengers included the Titan owner Stockton Rush, 61, British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58, and his son Suleman, 19.

The US Navy said it detected sounds "consistent with an implosion" shortly after the sub lost contact.

A search and rescue mission for the sub started as it had 96 hours of oxygen left but on June 22, the US Coast Guard found debris on the Atlantic seabed, concluding the Titan had imploded the same day it dived.

Titan's hull is believed to have collapsed as a result of enormous water pressure.

Read more: Frightening Titan communication logs between doomed sub and mothership were faked, US investigators say

Read more: Titan submersible may have imploded due to 'micro-buckling', new research suggests

Ms Nargeolet spoke of how she went sailing with her father in the Mediterranean before the accident.

“My family made fun of him. They said it was a bit like the Titanic. I didn't think it was funny at the time, but now…” she said.

She told the Sunday Times she has cried every day for the last year but said: “I think what he did is beautiful. I think it's courageous.”

She condemned the company behind the Titan - OceanGate - after they stopped communicating with the families following the tragedy.

She said: “That is not normal. The least they could do is offer their condolences.”

Titan owner Stockton Rush
Titan owner Stockton Rush. Picture: OceanGate

OceanGate suspended all activities following the tragedy as it posted a one-line note on its website saying it had stopped "all exploration and commercial operations".

Mr Nargeolet was on the trip, which cost $250,000 a ticket, as a guide in what was his 38th trip to the Titanic site after leaving his job in the navy to explore relics.

He was responsible for retrieving the first objects from the wreckage, taking 5,500 in total, and was able to return some of these to the owners.

The investigation into the accident is still active after it emerged that experts had raised concerns with OceanGate about the sub.

The former Director of Marine Operations for the Titan project, David Lochridge, was fired from the company in 2018 after expressing doubts about its safety.

Just a month before the tragedy, Mr Nargeolet had said in an interview that he was not worried about the risks of the sub because “under that pressure, you'd be dead before you knew there was a problem”.

His daughter has said it is “better” Mr Rush is no longer around as it would have been “hell for him to be alive” after the disaster.

Despite the tragedy, a US real estate billionaire and a deep-sea explorer recently shared that they are planning to travel in a sub to the Titanic site.

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