Family tributes to ‘beloved’ fathers and sons killed in tragic Titan submersible implosion

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Five people onboard the Titan submersible tragically died in a “catastrophic implosion”

The five people who died in the Titan submersible’s catastrophic implosion have been remembered by family and friends.

The US Coast Guard confirmed the tail cone of the deep-sea vessel was discovered around 1,600 ft from the bow of the Titanic shipwreck during a press conference in Boston on Thursday (23 June).

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Rear Admiral John Mauger said further debris was also found in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland that was “consistent with a catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber”.

Family and friends have paid tribute to the five people who were killed he Titan submersible’s implosion (Photo: Getty Images / Dawood Hercules Corporation / PA)Family and friends have paid tribute to the five people who were killed he Titan submersible’s implosion (Photo: Getty Images / Dawood Hercules Corporation / PA)
Family and friends have paid tribute to the five people who were killed he Titan submersible’s implosion (Photo: Getty Images / Dawood Hercules Corporation / PA) | Getty Images / Dawood Hercules Corporation / PA

Admiral Mauger said he could not say what the prospects were of recovering the bodies of those killed on the Titan expedition as he offered his condolences to the families. He said: “Our thoughts are with the families and making sure that they have an understanding as best as we can provide of what happened and begin to find some closure.

“In terms of the large process, we’re going to continue to investigate the site of the debris field and then I know that there’s also a lot of questions about how, why and when did this happen, and so those are questions that we will collect as much information as we can on now, while the governments are meeting and discussing what an investigation of this nature of a casualty might look like.

“This is something that happened, I’ll just remind everybody, this is something that happened in a remote portion of the ocean with people from, you know, several different countries around the world and so it is a complex case to work through but I’m confident that those questions will begin to get answered.”

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British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman were among the five people who died on the vessel, alongside French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet, chief executive of OceanGate Expeditions Stockton Rush, and British billionaire and pilot Hamish Harding.

Shahzada and Suleman Dawood were a part of Pakistan’s most prominent families, with Shahzada, 48, being the vice-chairman of Pakistani conglomerate Engro Corporation, and a long-time adviser to the King’s charity, Prince’s Trust International. Alongside his work in business, he was a supporter of the British Asian Trust, an organisation and a trustee of the Seti Institute. Meanwhile, Suleman was described as a “big fan of science fiction literature and learning new things”, with an interest in Rubik’s Cubes and playing volleyball.

Suleman Dawood and his father Shahzada Dawood.Suleman Dawood and his father Shahzada Dawood.
Suleman Dawood and his father Shahzada Dawood.

The Dawood family mourned the loss of the father and son in a statement on Thursday, saying they are truly grateful to those involved in the rescue operations and their “untiring efforts” brought strength to the family. They said: “Please continue to keep the departed souls of our family in your prayers during this difficult period of mourning.”

The family added: “We are also indebted to our friends, family, colleagues and well-wishers from all over the world who have stood by us during our hour of need. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the other passengers onboard the Titan submersible.”

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The chief executive and founder of OceanGate Expeditions Stockton Rush was remembered as “highly professional” alongside pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet by a businessman who Mr Rush led on a previous visit to the Titanic wreck.

OceanGate said the two men were “true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion of exploring and protecting the world’s oceans”. The statement added: “Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time.”

Mr Rush originally trained as a pilot and became the youngest jet transport-rated pilot in the world aged 19 in 1981, before graduating from Princeton with a degree in aerospace engineering in 1984, according to his OceanGate profile.

Stockton Rush (inset), the CEO of OceanGate, the company involved in the missing submersible around the site of the RMS Titanic's wreckage (Credit: Getty Images/OceanGate)Stockton Rush (inset), the CEO of OceanGate, the company involved in the missing submersible around the site of the RMS Titanic's wreckage (Credit: Getty Images/OceanGate)
Stockton Rush (inset), the CEO of OceanGate, the company involved in the missing submersible around the site of the RMS Titanic's wreckage (Credit: Getty Images/OceanGate) | Getty Images/OceanGate

Having co-founded OceanGate in 2009, Mr Rush has led crewed expeditions to remote ocean locations including the Titanic, and was also the founder and member of the board of trustees of the linked charity organisation OceanGate Foundation, which uses marine technology to develop understanding of marine science, history and archaeology.

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French submersible pilot Mr Nargeolet, 77, was a former commander who served in the French navy for 25 years and was in the first human expedition to visit the ship in 1987, according to the Telegraph.

His family released a statement after his death, saying he will be remembered as “one of the greatest deep-sea explorers in modern history”. They said: “When you think of the Titanic and all we know about the ship today, you will think of Paul-Henri Nargeolet and his legendary work.

“But what we will remember him most for is his big heart, his incredible sense of humour and how much he loved his family. We will miss him today and every day for the rest of our lives.”

The family of Paul-Henri Nargeolet said he will be remembered as “one of the greatest deep-sea explorers in modern history” (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)The family of Paul-Henri Nargeolet said he will be remembered as “one of the greatest deep-sea explorers in modern history” (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)
The family of Paul-Henri Nargeolet said he will be remembered as “one of the greatest deep-sea explorers in modern history” (Photo: AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

After his career in the French navy, where he was captain of the deep submergence group, he held several roles in deep diving and piloting submersibles. As director of the Underwater Research Programme with RMS Titanic Inc, which owns the rights to the Titanic wreck, he has led the retrieval of items from the ship across many expeditions. Last year, Mr Nargeolet published a book in France about his experiences with the Titanic titled Dans Les Profondeurs Du Titanic (In The Depths Of The Titanic).

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The family of British billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding also paid tribute to their “dedicated father” following the news of his death on Thursday, describing him as “a guide, an inspiration, a support, and a living legend”.

They said: “He was one of a kind and we adored him. He was a passionate explorer – whatever the terrain – who lived his life for his family, his business and for the next adventure. What he achieved in his lifetime was truly remarkable and if we can take any small consolation from this tragedy, it’s that we lost him doing what he loved.”

His devastated family said his death has left a “gap in our lives that can never be filled” and they were “united in grief” with the families of the others who had died. They added: “We know that Hamish would have been immensely proud to see how nations, experts, industry colleagues and friends came together for the search and we extend our heartfelt thanks for all their efforts.”

The family of Hamish Harding paid tribute to their “dedicated father” (Photo: Dirty Dozen Productions/PA Wire)The family of Hamish Harding paid tribute to their “dedicated father” (Photo: Dirty Dozen Productions/PA Wire)
The family of Hamish Harding paid tribute to their “dedicated father” (Photo: Dirty Dozen Productions/PA Wire) | Dirty Dozen Productions/PA Wire

Mr Harding was also remembered by friend Richard Garriot de Cayeux, president of the Explorers Club, which the billionaire helped found. Mr Garriot de Cayeux said: “Hamish Harding is a dear friend to me personally and to The Explorers Club. He holds several world records and has continued to push dragons off maps both in person and through supporting expeditions and worthy causes.”

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The billionaire pilot and chair of Action Aviation, a sales and operations company which manages private jet sales, shared on Instagram that he had joined the OceanGate expedition as a “mission specialist”.

The 58-year-old was based in the UAE where the Action Aviation HQ is located, and presents himself in personal social media biographies as a “world explorer”. He holds several Guinness world records, including the fastest circumnavigation of the Earth via the North and South Poles by an aircraft, in 46 hours, 40 minutes and 22 seconds.

In March 2021, he was awarded the record for the longest time traversing the deepest part of the ocean on a single dive, alongside Victor Vescovo, at four hours and 15 minutes along the sea floor of Challenger Deep in the western Pacific Ocean.

He often took his son Giles with him on these trips, including another world-record beating journey to the South Pole when Giles, aged 12, became the youngest person to have visited.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly described the deaths of the five people onboard the Titan sub as “tragic news”, adding the UK government is closely supporting the British families affected.

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