Shahzada Dawood, Hamish Harding: Who’s on missing Titanic sub?

Here is what we know about the people on board of the five-person submersible vessel missing in the Atlantic Ocean.

A five-person submersible vessel taking tourists on a trip to see the wreckage of the 1912 Titanic disaster 3.8km (2.4 miles) undersea is missing in the Atlantic Ocean off eastern coast of Canada and the United States.

A search and rescue operation – led by the US Coast Guard – is underway to locate the submersible vessel. The Canadian Coast Guard and the Canadian Armed Forces are also assisting in the effort.

“Our first thoughts are with the crew members and the families of those onboard, and so we want to make sure that we have done absolutely everything that we can do to locate their family members and bring them home safe,” US Coast Guard official John Mauger said on Monday.

It costs $250,000 per guest for an eight-day trip that includes a ride on the submersible Titan to the shipwreck.

Here’s what to know so far:

Who is on board?

Shahzada Dawood and Suleman Dawood

The Dawood family has confirmed that Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman are on board of the vessel.

Shahzada, 48, is vice chairman of one of Pakistan’s largest conglomerates, Engro Corporation, with investments in fertilisers, vehicle manufacturing, energy and digital technologies. The father and son are citizens of the United Kingdom, the family said.

The Dawoods belong to one of Pakistan’s most prominent families.

“We are very grateful for the concern being shown by our colleagues and friends and would like to request everyone to pray for their safety while granting the family privacy at this time,” a statement released by his family said.

“The family is well looked-after and are praying to Allah for the safe return of their family members,” it added.

Shahzada graduated from the University of Buckingham and received a degree from Philadelphia University (now Thomas Jefferson University). The family described Suleman as a university student who “takes a keen interest in solving Rubik’s Cubes and enjoys playing volleyball”.

Hamish Harding

The British billionaire and chairman of aviation company Action Aviation is also among those missing, according to his stepson.

Dubai-based Harding had posted on social media that he was proud to be heading to the Titanic as a “mission specialist”, adding: “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.”

“The team on the sub has a couple of legendary explorers, some of [whom] have done over 30 dives to the RMS Titanic since the 1980s including PH Nargeolet,” he added.

Harding was also on board the 2019 One More Orbit flight mission that set a record for the fastest circumnavigation of Earth by aircraft over both geographic poles.

Paul-Henri Gargeolet

The 77-year-old French explorer, whom media say was one of the five on board, is director of underwater research at a company that owns the rights to the Titanic wreck. A former commander in the French Navy, he was both a deep diver and a mine sweeper.

After retiring from the navy, he led the first recovery expedition to the Titanic in 1987 and is a leading authority on the wreck site.

In a 2020 interview with France Bleu radio, he spoke of the dangers of deep diving, saying, “I am not afraid to die, I think it will happen one day.”

Stockton Rush

The founder and CEO of the vessel’s US-based operating company OceanGate was also on board the submersible, according to media reports.

“It is an amazingly beautiful wreck,” Rush told the UK’s Sky News of the Titanic earlier this year.

“Rush became the youngest jet transport rated pilot in the world when he obtained his DC-8 Type/Captain’s rating at the United Airlines Jet Training Institute in 1981 at the age of 19,” according to his biography on OceanGate’s website.

Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate exhibitions, poses at Times Square in New York
Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate exhibitions, poses at Times Square in New York [File: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

What firm is behind this?

Based in Everett in Washington State in the United States, OceanGate says it uses next-generation crewed submersibles and launches platforms to increase deep-sea access as far down as four kilometres (2.5 miles).

“OceanGate has successfully completed over 14 expeditions and over 200 dives in the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico,” its website said. “Following every mission, the team evaluates and updates the procedures as part [of] a continued commitment to evolve and ensure operational safety.”

What is the vessel?

Although popularly called a submarine, in marine terminology the Titan vessel carrying the five is a submersible. While a submarine can launch independently from a port and can come back on its own power, a submersible needs a mother ship to launch it.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies