As the search for a private submersible that vanished during an expedition to explore the Titanic’s wreckage continues, more information is surfacing about its five passengers.
British industrialist Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his teenage son Suleman, and French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet are among the confirmed passengers. Also on board is Stockton Rush, the chief executive officer of OceanGate, the company that operates the vessel.
OceanGate advertised the opportunity as a chance to “become one of the few to see the Titanic with your own eyes.” According to the company’s website, the cost of securing a spot on the ship was $250,000. OceanGate noted that each of its dives has a scientific purpose, so the excursion was not marketed as a simple vacation.
Harding wrote on Facebook on June 17 that he was “proud” to be joining the expedition.
“The team on the sub has a couple of legendary explorers, some of which have done over 30 dives to the RMS Titanic since the 1980s including PH Nargeolet.”
According to the company’s website, Harding is the chairman of Action Aviation, which sells aircraft to Fortune 100 companies, international corporations, chiefs of state, and individuals in the entertainment and sports industries. The British press refers to the businessman as a billionaire, but Forbes magazine notes that he is not on its list of the world’s richest individuals.
In June of last year, Harding was one of six individuals who flew to the border of space on a Blue Origin mission owned by Jeff Bezos. Shahzada Dawood, aged 48, is the vice chairman of Dawood Hercules, a Karachi, Pakistan-based investment and holding corporation.
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Dawood Hercules is a member of the Dawood Group, a century-old family enterprise, according to his biography at the SETI Institute, where he also serves on the board of directors. According to the New York Times, Dawood inherits one of Pakistan’s largest family fortunes.
The OceanGate website identifies Paul-Henri Nargeolet as a Titanic specialist. He has conducted six expeditions to the shipwreck site and is considered “Titanic’s Greatest Explorer,” according to the company.
He is also the director of underwater research for RMS Titanic, an American company that controls the salvage rights to the shipwreck and operates exhibits featuring ship artifacts. According to the company, approximately thirty million individuals have viewed its exhibits.
Stockton Rush is the chief executive officer of the corporation coordinating the expedition. According to his biography on OceanGate, Rush was the youngest individual to become a jet transport-rated pilot when he earned a DC-8 Type/Captain’s rating at the United Airlines Jet Training Institute at the age of 19.
Rush received his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Princeton University in 1984 and his master’s degree in business administration from the Berkeley Haas School of Business in 1989. According to OceanGate, Rush established the company in 2009 and currently oversees its financial and engineering strategies.