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Billionaire creates submersible to explore Titanic wreckage following Titan implosion

By NICK GARCIA Published May 29, 2024 11:16 am

A billionaire from Ohio created a $20 million (P1.1 billion) submersible to explore the Titanic wreckage—following the Titan submersible implosion that killed all five people on board in June 2023.

Patrick Lahey, co-founder and chief executive officer of Triton Submarines, told The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that one of his clients, real estate investor Larry Connor, called him days after Titan imploded and asked him to create a submersible to "repeatedly and safely" demonstrate to the world that his company can do it.

Connor also called Titan, owned by private marine company OceanGate Expeditions, a "contraption."

Lahey then came up with the two-man Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer. According to its website, it's "designed specifically for professional applications," for repeated trips to the ocean at a depth of about 4,000 meters. The Titanic wreckage lies at a depth of about 3,800 meters.

Connor told WSJ that Triton is made up of new “materials and technology” that wasn't available five years ago.

“Patrick has been thinking about and designing this for over a decade. But we didn’t have the materials and technology," he's quoted as saying.

Connor said he isn't afraid of the deep ocean, and that going to the Titanic can be done "safely."

“I want to show people worldwide that while the ocean is extremely powerful," he said, "it can be wonderful and enjoyable and really kind of life-changing if you go about it the right way."

Lahey, meanwhile, noted the chilling effect of the Titan implosion.

“It reignited old myths that only a crazy person would dive in one of these things," he said.

Still, he pointed out that Triton's submarines are "classed," or certified as safe and up to code, unlike Titan which was "unclassed" and used experimental designs and materials.

Titan was designed to allow tourists to visit the Titanic wreckage. It was meant to dive up to 4,000 meters.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said submersibles—unlike submarines—have limited power reserves and need a separate support vessel to launch and recover them.

CNN International reported that Titan, roughly the size of a minivan, lost contact with its mother ship about an hour and a quarter into its descent to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean on the morning of June 18. It has about four days of emergency capability.

All five people on board were killed when the vessel imploded, which is believed to have occurred during its descent.

The sub's failure was confirmed on June 22, ending a days-long rescue mission that caught worldwide attention.

Some wreckage and suspected human remains were recovered later that month and in October.

The Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in 1912 during its maiden voyage from England to New York with 2,224 passengers and crew on board. More than 1,500 people died. It was found in 1985 and has become a lure for nautical experts and underwater tourists.