Close friend of Titan sub pilot tried to talk him out of fatal trip, fearing hull would collapse 'catastrophically and unexpectedly'

28 July 2023, 09:44

Patrick Fahey tried to talk Paul-Henri Nargeolet out of going on the Titan
Patrick Fahey tried to talk Paul-Henri Nargeolet out of going on the Titan. Picture: Getty/Handout/Triton

By Kit Heren

A close friend of the pilot on board the Titan sub in its final, fatal descent last month said he tried to convince him not to go, fearing that the sub would collapse in a grim portent of its actual fate.

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Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a very experienced Titanic explorer, was one of the five men who died when the Titan suffered a catastrophic implosion on its way to visit the wreckage in June.

Following the incident, it emerged that safety concerns were raised multiple times before, with several people including Ross Kemp and YouTuber Mr Beast having dropped out of doing similar trips.

As the Titanic wreckage is in international waters and the expeditions, led by OceanGate, the company that built the sub, were not operating out of a port, the trips were not subject to safety regulations.

But others in the industry had raised their own safety concerns about the carbon fibre and titanium Titan before its implosion.

Read more: Simulation shows how Titan sub collapsed 'millisecond by millisecond' as crew heard ominous 'loud pops and creaks'

Read more: Survivor of failed Titan trip recalls moment passengers had to 'rock from side to side' to get sub back to surface

Paul-Henri Nargeolet died onboard the Titan
Paul-Henri Nargeolet died onboard the Titan. Picture: Getty

Patrick Lahey, the CEO and co-founder of Triton Submarines, said that he "couldn't have been more unequivocal in [his] condemnation of that thing."

He added: "My biggest concern was that hull would collapse — it would collapse catastrophically and unexpectedly".

Mr Lahey added that the Titan was "not safe for human occupants".

He tried to convince Mr Nargeolet, a "dear friend" not to take part in the trip.

The Oceangate submersible Titan
The Oceangate submersible Titan. Picture: Alamy

But the explorer, who had visited the Titanic more than 30 times already, may have thought he could help others in an emergency, Mr Lahey told Insider this week.

He added that Mr Nargeolet may have been "convinced by others" that the trip was "risky but not that risky".

Mr Lahey said: "But in point of fact, it was incredibly risky, as we all know ... [it] was ultimately the worst decision he ever made".

The Titan sub lost communication with company operatives on the surface on June 18, sparking a huge search and rescue effort.

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush
OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush. Picture: Alamy

Debris was found on the sea floor days later and rescuers said that the sub had suffered a catastrophic implosion.

As well as Mr Nargeolet, the others on board were OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, UK billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman.

It is thought that they died almost instantly.

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