Who is Hamish Harding - the British businessman on board the missing Titanic submarine?

The British businessman is one of five people on a submersible that lost contact with the commercial submarine on a trip to the Titanic wreck
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Rescue efforts continued for a submersible that had gone missing exploring the wreck of the Titanic overnight, after communication with the deep sea tourist vessel lost contact nearly two hours into the dive. The vessel was reported overdue in the evening, prompting concerns for the safety of those on board as the Titan submersible can sustain human life for only 96 hours.

The Titan is a five-person submersible operated by OceanGate Inc., constructed using carbon fibre and titanium. It is specifically designed for deep-sea exploration and can reach depths of up to 4 km (13,000 ft). Equipped with Real Time Hull Health Monitoring (RTM) systems, the vessel ensures the integrity of its hull during dives. With a life support system capable of sustaining five crew members for 96 hours, the Titan offers extended underwater operations.

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Typically, each dive includes a pilot, three paying guests, and a content expert. The descent from the surface to the Titanic, which takes approximately two hours, is followed by an eight-hour dive. Throughout the expedition, the submersible maintains communication with the crew above water every 15 minutes, ensuring safety and coordination.

OceanGate initially planned to conduct multiple expeditions to the Titanic in 2023. However, due to unfavourable weather conditions in Newfoundland, the company has been limited to a single expedition this year. Those participating in these expeditions, known as "Mission Specialists," pay approximately US$250,000 for an immersive eight-day experience at the iconic Titanic site.

Several potential issues could explain the communication breakdown; it is speculated that the Titan's communication equipment may have malfunctioned, leaving the crew unable to contact those on the surface while still maintaining navigation capabilities.

Problems with the ballast system, responsible for controlling the vessel's descent and ascent, are also a possibility. Another concern is that the Titan may have become entangled with wreckage, preventing it from resurfacing.

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Those on board the submersible at the time of its disappearance include British businessman Hamish Harding, a member of the expedition, CEO and founder of OceanGate Stockton Rush, and Paul-Henry Nargeolet, a renowned deep diver and submersible pilot. 

Who is Hamish Harding?

Hamish Harding, one of five that are missing on a lost submersible near the wreck of the Titanic (Credit: Action Aviation)Hamish Harding, one of five that are missing on a lost submersible near the wreck of the Titanic (Credit: Action Aviation)
Hamish Harding, one of five that are missing on a lost submersible near the wreck of the Titanic (Credit: Action Aviation)

Hamish Harding is a UAE-based British businessman, pilot, explorer, and space tourist. He is the founder of Action Group and serves as the chairman of Action Aviation, an international aircraft brokerage company headquartered in Dubai. Harding is known for his involvement in various record-breaking missions and expeditions.

In 2019, Harding achieved the world speed record for the fastest circumnavigation of Earth by aircraft over both geographic poles as the mission director and crew pilot of the One More Orbit flight. He led a team of aviators that completed the journey in a Gulfstream G650ER in just 46 hours and 40 minutes.

Harding's adventurous spirit led him to undertake remarkable feats. In 2021, he descended to the deepest point of the Mariana Trench, the Challenger Deep, setting records for the greatest length covered and the longest time spent at full ocean depth. He accomplished this dive alongside Victor Vescovo in a two-man submarine.

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Additionally, Harding holds three Guinness World Records: the fastest circumnavigation of the Earth via both poles in 2019, the greatest distance covered at full ocean depth in 2021, and the greatest duration spent at full ocean depth in the same year.

In 2022, Harding further demonstrated his commitment to conservation by supporting the Reintroduction of the Cheetah to India project. He provided a customised Boeing 747-400 aircraft to transport eight wild cheetahs from Namibia to India, working in collaboration with the Indian Government and the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

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