The Explorers Club; what is the club that Hamish Harding and Paul-Henri Nargeolet were members of?

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Explorers Club Hero | Getty/Action Aviation
Two members of the Titan submersible were members of the historic The Explorers Club, sharing memberships with Sir Edmund Hillary and James Cameron.

The U.S Coast Guard held a press conference last night to confirm that the Titan, a submersible vessel operated by OceanGate to explore the wreckage of the RMS Titanic, had a “catastrophic implosion” that led to the deaths of the five members on board. The theory behind what happened is that when the Titan reached 9,000 feet below the surface that potentially the fatigue on the structure from the pressure at that depth caused the catastrophe to occur, though that has yet to be officially confirmed.

Tributes have been made throughout the night to those who died on board the submersible, which included British businessman Hamish Hardin, experienced deep sea explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman and OceanGate CEO, Stockton Rush.

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OceanGate’s official website has also been swarmed with interest this morning, leading to the website going offline due to the sheer traffic it has received over the past week, but did post a press release when it became apparent debris found on the floor near the wreckage of the Titanic was consistent with the theory of a catastrophic implosion and those on board were presumed dead.

“This is an extremely sad time for our dedicated employees who are exhausted and grieving deeply over this loss. The entire OceanGate family is deeply grateful for the countless men and women from multiple organisations of the international community who expedited wide-ranging resources and have worked so very hard on this mission.”

“This is a very sad time for the explorer community, and for each of the family members of those lost at sea. We respectfully ask that the privacy of these families be respected during this most painful time.” 

Two of the members of the party that made up the five person expedition into the depth of the Atlantic Ocean, Harding and Nargoleat, also happened to be members of The Explorers Club, an international multidisciplinary organisation that promotes scientific exploration and field research

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What is The Explorers Club?

The Explorers Club Headquarters in New York City (Credit: Jonathan S Knowles)The Explorers Club Headquarters in New York City (Credit: Jonathan S Knowles)
The Explorers Club Headquarters in New York City (Credit: Jonathan S Knowles) | Jonathan S Knowles

Founded in 1904 by a group of prominent explorers and scientists, The Explorers Club was created with the aim of advancing the knowledge of the natural world and fostering a spirit of exploration.

The club's headquarters are located in New York City, but it has chapters and members from around the world. Its membership is composed of accomplished individuals from various fields, including science, exploration, academia, and the arts. Members of the Explorers Club are known as "Fellows" and are recognized for their significant contributions to their respective fields.

Serving as a hub for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and support for exploration endeavours, it provides a platform for explorers and scientists to connect, exchange ideas, and showcase their research through lectures, conferences, and symposiums. The club also grants research funding and awards, such as the prestigious Explorers Club Medal, to recognize outstanding achievements in exploration and scientific discovery.

Throughout its history, the Explorers Club has played a vital role in facilitating groundbreaking expeditions and scientific discoveries. Its members have ventured to the farthest reaches of the planet, exploring uncharted territories, conducting research in extreme environments, and making significant contributions to fields such as anthropology, archaeology, marine biology, geology, and astronomy.

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What expeditions have The Explorers Club embarked on previously?

Picture dated of 1969 showing US Astronauts Neil Armstrong (L) and Buzz Aldrin practicing in a simulator prior to their mission on the moon on the Apollo XI space mission.  (Credit: /NASA/AFP via Getty Images)Picture dated of 1969 showing US Astronauts Neil Armstrong (L) and Buzz Aldrin practicing in a simulator prior to their mission on the moon on the Apollo XI space mission.  (Credit: /NASA/AFP via Getty Images)
Picture dated of 1969 showing US Astronauts Neil Armstrong (L) and Buzz Aldrin practicing in a simulator prior to their mission on the moon on the Apollo XI space mission. (Credit: /NASA/AFP via Getty Images) | NASA/AFP via Getty Images

The first official Explorers Club expedition took place in 1911 and is commonly known as the Crocker Land Expedition. Led by the renowned Arctic explorer Robert Peary, the expedition aimed to explore and map an alleged landmass called "Crocker Land" in the Arctic region.

The existence of Crocker Land was based on a sighting claimed by Peary during one of his previous Arctic expeditions. Peary believed he had spotted a large landmass to the northwest of Greenland, and it was named after one of the expedition's financial supporters, George Crocker.

In 1913, Peary organised the Crocker Land Expedition, with Donald MacMillan serving as the field leader. The team departed from New York and set off for the Arctic region. However, upon reaching their destination and conducting extensive explorations, it was discovered that Crocker Land did not exist. 

The Crocker Land Expedition marked the beginning of the Explorers Club's legacy of organising and supporting scientific expeditions around the world. It set the stage for future explorations and cemented the club's reputation as an institution dedicated to promoting scientific exploration and the pursuit of knowledge in the field.

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Led by Sir Hubert Wilkins, the Trans-Arctic Submarine Expedition in 1958 aimed to navigate a nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus, beneath the Arctic ice cap. The successful mission demonstrated the feasibility of submarines travelling under the polar ice and opened up new possibilities for Arctic exploration. The Explorers Club also played a role in the Apollo space program, as several astronauts who walked on the moon were club members. Notable examples include Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the lunar surface, and Buzz Aldrin, the second person.

The Explorers Club collaborated with Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his vessel Calypso for the Calypso Deep Sea Dives; these were a series of deep-sea diving expeditions between 1966 and 1975 which aimed to study marine life, document shipwrecks, and raise awareness about ocean conservation. The club was also responsible for the 1968 Blue Nile Expedition, which was led by Richard Leakey and focused on the archaeological exploration of the Omo Valley in Ethiopia. The team discovered important hominin fossils, providing valuable insights into human evolution and prehistoric cultures.

The Explorers Club has supported several expeditions to the Gobi Desert, including those led by Roy Chapman Andrews and his famous Central Asiatic Expeditions in the 1920s. These explorations led to significant paleontological discoveries, including the first documented dinosaur eggs.

Who else is a member of The Explorers Club?

17th July 1953:  Members of the successful Everest expedition at a reception at Lancaster House, (from left) Conservative politician Lord Woolton, Sir Edmund Hillary, the Duke of Edinburgh, Sherpa Tensing and Sir John Hunt.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)17th July 1953:  Members of the successful Everest expedition at a reception at Lancaster House, (from left) Conservative politician Lord Woolton, Sir Edmund Hillary, the Duke of Edinburgh, Sherpa Tensing and Sir John Hunt.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
17th July 1953: Members of the successful Everest expedition at a reception at Lancaster House, (from left) Conservative politician Lord Woolton, Sir Edmund Hillary, the Duke of Edinburgh, Sherpa Tensing and Sir John Hunt. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Some of explorations most prominent names have all been known as members of The Explorers Club, including Sir Edmund Hillary after becoming the first person to summit Mount Everest in 1953, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, Jacques Cousteau and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen - the first explorer to lead a successful expedition to the South Pole in 1911.

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The Explorers Club also have recognised those who have helped in the advancement of exploration and environmental preservation, such as renowned marine biologist Sylvia Earle, Jane Goodall and even James Cameron, who has made multiple record breaking dives into the deepest parts of the ocean, including the Mariana Trench.

Elon Musk has also received a medal from The Explorers Club, this was based around his advancements towards space exploration via his SpaceX programme, rather than the Twitter CEO going on any high-risk expeditions himself.

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