Brit billionaire 'ignored stark warning over Titan sub' after record-breaking dive gave him 'false sense of security'

18 June 2024, 19:24 | Updated: 19 June 2024, 01:37

Hamish Harding ignored warnings over the Titan sub.
Hamish Harding ignored warnings over the Titan sub. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

British billionaire Hamish Harding is said to have ignored warnings over the Titan sub due to him having a "false sense of security".

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The Oceangate Expeditions vessel was carrying five passengers to see the Titanic wreckage when it suffered a catastrophic implosion.

Businessman Mr Harding was among those on board, along with Oceangate CEO Stockton Rush, French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Pakistani investor Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman.

Mr Harding's expert friend said he warned him "not to go anywhere near the Titan submarine" but had a "false sense of security" after he broke a Guinness World Record.

He and famed explorer Victor Vescovo went to the lowest point of the Mariana Trench off Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean in a sub in March 2021.

It was part of a mission to search for evidence of human pollution at the base of Challenger Deep.

Read more: Inside the new $20m submersible heading for the Titanic wreck - one year after Oceangate disaster

Read more: Billionaire plans new trips to Titanic wreck to prove dives are safe after OceanGate disaster

Graphic explains how Titan submersible imploded

"We travelled the longest distance ever in one trip at the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest place on Earth," Mr Vescovo told the Mirror.

"Also on that dive, we stayed down on the bottom longer than anyone ever had, four hours and fifteen minutes.

"To my knowledge, no one since has ever made a dive that covered that distance, that deep, or stayed down there that long. Hamish and I did that together. It was an intense dive."

Mr Harding had said in a previous interview that making the journey to the Titanic wreckage had been on his "bucket list for some time" and that it was an "easy decision".

“There is no plan B, but I trust the team and the technology and I don’t really get scared at this type of thing," he said.

Mr Vescovo said he believed the Challenger Deep dive had given Mr Harding a "false sense of security", with him having been warned not to get on the Titan.

"I was really disappointed because he didn't take my advice to not go," he said.

"I sometimes wonder if his dive with me to Challenger Deep - nearly three times deeper than Titanic - gave him a false sense of security that all submersibles were all, more or less, equally safe. They aren't."

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