Race to find Titanic wreck tourist sub with British billionaire on board after it vanished at sea

19 June 2023, 14:52 | Updated: 19 June 2023, 22:50

A race is under way to find the missing Titanic wreck submarine, with British billionaire Hamish Harding named among those on board
A race is under way to find the missing Titanic wreck submarine, with British billionaire Hamish Harding named among those on board. Picture: Alamy/Facebook

By Will Taylor

A submarine that takes tourists to view the wreck of the Titanic has gone missing in the Atlantic Ocean.

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OceanGate Expeditions, a private company that organises deep sea expeditions to view the wreck, confirmed in a statement that one of their submersibles - named Titan - has gone missing.

Five people are on board the missing sub, with one of them understood to be UK billionaire Hamish Harding.

A statement read: “We are exploring and mobilising all options to bring the crew back safely.

“Our entire focus is on the crew members in the submersible and their families.

"We are working toward the safe return of the crew members," it added.

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Mr Harding's stepson, Brian Szasz, said he was praying for a successful recovery.

"Hamish Harding my step father has gone missing on submarine thoughts and prayers," he said in a Facebook post.

"My stepdad Hamish Harding has gone missing on a submarine pray for a successful recovery.

"Thoughts and prayers for my stepfather Hamish Harding as his submarine has gone missing exploring Titanic. Search and rescue mission is underway."

Speaking at a press conference, Rear Admiral John W Mauger of the US Coast Guard said they are doing "everything" to find the five people, adding that they were conducting a search 900 miles east of Cape Cod in collaboration with the Canadian armed forces and commercial vessels 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 said.

Mr Mauger said the submersible had 96 hours of emergency capability, giving a window for rescuers to find the occupants alive.

"We anticipate that there's somewhere between 70 to the full 96 hours at this point," he said.

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It comes after Mr Harding posted on social media on Sunday that a ‘window’ had opened up that would allow the dive to go ahead.

"We started steaming from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada yesterday and are planning to start dive operations around 4am tomorrow morning," he said.

"Until then we have a lot of preparations and briefings to do."

Meanwhile, a Titanic veteran diver said he had been due to be on the missing submersible. He has since been called to assist with search.

David Concannon said he had to cancel "to attend to another urgent client matter".

"Last night, I was called and asked to provide whatever assistance I could to ensure the safe return of everyone in the sub," Mr Concannon wrote on a page called Titanic Book Club.

"Of course, I immediately agreed."

The Titanic wreck in the Atlantic
The Titanic wreck in the Atlantic. Picture: Getty

The Titanic's wreck lies more than 12,000ft below the surface, about 370 miles off Newfoundland.

Tourists can pay for submersibles to take them to the remains, but this can cost more than £90,000.

OceanGate Expeditions charges up to £195,000 for an eight-day trip, and it had recently run a mission to the wreck. It last tweeted about a Titanic expedition on June 16.

The Titanic, which was one of the largest ships in the world at the time it launched, sank in April 1912, killing more than 1,500 people out of the more than 2,000 on board. The wreck was discovered in 1985.

The disaster was chronicled by James Cameron in the 1997 film Titanic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet which has taken over $2bn at box offices around the world.

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