Family and friends have mourned the five victims who perished when Titan, the submersible vessel exploring the Titanic shipwreck, exploded.
Along with French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet, chief executive of OceanGate Expeditions Stockton Rush, and British millionaire and pilot Hamish Harding, British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman perished on the vessel.
Shahzada and Suleman Dawood
The father and son belonged to one of the wealthiest families in Pakistan.
Shahzada Dawood, 48, served as vice chairman of the Pakistani giant Engro Corporation and a trusted advisor to Prince’s Trust International, the King’s organization that focuses on work in Pakistan.
According to the Telegraph, he resided in Surbiton, southwest London, with his son, wife Christine, and daughter Alina.
On Thursday night, the Dawood family issued a statement lamenting the deaths of the father and son.
“Please continue to keep the departed souls of our family in your prayers during this difficult period of mourning.”
The family expressed their sincere gratitude to everyone participating in the rescue efforts, saying that their “untiring efforts” gave the family courage.
The statement said: “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.”
According to a different family statement obtained by the BBC, Shahzada was interested in “exploring different natural habitats” and has previously spoken before the United Nations and Oxford Union.
Suleman was referred to as a “big fan of science fiction literature and learning new things” who also enjoyed playing volleyball and solving Rubik’s Cubes.
According to his LinkedIn page, Mr. Dawood joined the board of directors of the Dawood Hercules Corporation in 1996 and held the position of vice chairman from 2018 to 2021. Engro Corporation is a subsidiary of the business, which functions as an investment holding platform.
In addition to his commercial activities, he supported the British Asian Trust and served as a trustee for the Seti Institute.
According to the charity, Hussain Dawood, Shahzada’s father, was a founding supporter of Prince’s Trust International.
Stockton Rush, the CEO and founder of OceanGate Expeditions, began his career as a pilot. He obtained his jet transport rating at the age of 19 in 1981, according to his bio on the OceanGate website.
According to his profile, he earned an aerospace engineering degree from Princeton in 1984.
A businessman that Mr. Rush accompanied on a prior trip to the Titanic wreck described Mr. Rush and pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet as “highly professional.”
OceanGate said in a statement that the men were “true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion of exploring and protecting the world’s oceans”.
“Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time.”
According to the New York Times, he is “the last of the great American dreamers” and is regarded as a “magnetic man” by Mike Reiss, creator and producer of The Simpsons.
Mr. Reiss, who went on the Titanic dive with Mr. Rush in a different OceanGate submersible, also likened him to industrialists Henry Ford and the Wright brothers.
In a 2017 interview with the alumni magazine for Princeton University, where he studied mechanical aerospace engineering, Mr Rush said: “I was interested in exploration. I thought it was space exploration. I thought it was Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars … and then I realised, it’s all in the ocean.”
Mr. Rush, who co-founded OceanGate in 2009, has commanded crewed excursions to far-flung maritime destinations, such as the Titanic.
Additionally, he founded the OceanGate Foundation, a nonprofit organization that employs marine technology to advance knowledge of marine science, history, and archaeology, and served on its board of trustees.
The first human trip to explore the ship was led by Mr. Nargeolet, 77, a veteran commander who spent 25 years in the French navy, 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”.
“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.”
After serving as the commander of the deep submergence group in the French navy, he held a number of positions in deep diving and submersible piloting, including serving as the director of DESM, which is listed on his LinkedIn page as a French deep-diving equipment company.
He has oversaw the recovery of objects from the ship over the course of numerous missions as the director of the Underwater Research Programme with RMS Titanic Inc, which holds the rights to the Titanic wreck.
According to the Daily Mail, he was raised in Africa by his parents after being born in Chamonix, France.
According to the New York Times, Mr. Nargeolet was wed to American newsreader Michelle Marsh until her passing in 2017 at the age of 63.
Dans Les Profondeurs Du Titanic (In The Depths Of The Titanic), a book by Mr. Nargeolet on his experiences on the Titanic, was released in France last year.
The billionaire pilot and CEO of Action Aviation, which handles the sales of private jets, announced on his Instagram page that he had joined the OceanGate expedition as a “mission specialist”.
Mr. Harding, 58, describes himself as a “world explorer” in his personal social media bios. He was stationed in the UAE, where Action Aviation’s headquarters are.
In a short statement, his family 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.”
Richard Garriot de Cayeux, a close friend of Mr. Harding and the current president of the Explorers Club, remembered him.
In a statement, 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.”
He and his wife Linda have two boys, Rory and Giles, a stepdaughter, Lauren, and a stepson, Brian Szasz.
Mr. Harding claims on the company’s biography on the Action Aviation website that it is the “professional representative of choice” for significant aircraft transactions involving dignitaries, VIPs, Fortune 100 businesses, and foreign corporations.
In 46 hours, 40 minutes, and 22 seconds, Mr. Harding flew around the globe once, via the North and South Poles, setting a number of Guinness World Records.
Alongside Victor Vescovo, he received the record in March 2021 for the longest duration spent diving into the deepest portion of the ocean in a single dive, clocking in at four hours and 15 minutes. This dive took place in the western Pacific Ocean’s Challenger Deep.
He said that he frequently brought his son Giles along on these journeys, including one that broke the record for the youngest person to reach the South Pole when Giles, then 12 years old, joined him on.
According to Sky News, he participated in Jeff Bezos’ aerospace business Blue Origin’s fifth human space voyage last year.