As a search and rescue mission continues for a private submersible that went missing while on an expedition to explore the wreckage of the Titanic, more information is emerging about its five passengers.
Among the confirmed passengers are British businessman Hamish Harding; Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his teenage son, Suleman; and French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet. Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate, the company that operates the vessel, is also on it.
OceanGate billed the trip as an opportunity to “become one of the few to see the Titanic with your own eyes.” The company said the fee for securing a seat on the vessel was $250,000, according to its website. The trip wasn’t billed as mere tourism, however, with OceanGate noting that each of its dives has a scientific purpose.
In a June 17 Facebook post, Harding announced 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,” he noted.
Here’s what to know about the passengers on the vessel:
Hamish Harding, chairman of Action Aviation
Harding is the chairman of a company called Action Aviation, which sells aircraft to Fortune 100 companies, international corporations, heads of state and people in the entertainment and sports industries, according to its website.
The British businessman is referred to as a billionaire in the British press, but Forbes magazine noted that he’s not included on its list of the world’s richest people.
Aside from his business, Harding is known for his exploits as an adventurer. He holds several records with the Guinness Book of World Records, including “fastest circumnavigation of Earth via both the geographic poles” by airplane, which he and a team accomplished in 2019 in a little over 46 hours.
Harding also was one of six people on Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin’s mission last June, when they flew to the edge of space.
Before the Titanic expedition, Harding shared on Facebook that the mission was “likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023” because of weather conditions.
In an interview two years ago, Harding acknowledged the risks and dangers of underwater expeditions after he had traveled with U.S. explorer Victor Vescovo more than two and a half miles along the floor of the Mariana Trench, 35,876 feet below the sea surface.
“The only problem is that there is no other sub that is capable of going down there to rescue you,” he said of that journey. “[H]aving four days of supply doesn’t make a difference really. If something goes wrong, you are not coming back.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Action Aviation Managing Director Mark Butler said the company and Harding’s family are “very grateful for all the kind messages of concern and support from our friends and colleagues.”
“[W]e look forward to welcoming him home,” Butler wrote.
Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman Dawood
Shahzada Dawood, 48, is the vice chairman of Dawood Hercules, an investment and holding company based in Karachi, Pakistan.
Dawood Hercules is part of the Dawood Group, a family business for more than a century, according to his biography at the SETI Institute, where he also serves on the board. Dawood is heir to one of Pakistan’s largest family fortunes, according to the New York Times.
Dawood is a resident of the U.K. with his wife and two children, Suleman and daughter Alina, the SETI Institute noted. He also is an “ardent animal lover” and has a master’s degree in global textile marketing from Philadelphia University in the U.S. and a law degree from Buckingham University in the U.K.
Suleman Dawood is 19 years old, according to the U.K.’s DailyMail. He is a science fiction fan, and also enjoys solving Rubik’s Cubes and playing volleyball, according to DH Group & Engro Corporation, part of the Dawood Hercules Group.
“We are very grateful for the concern being shown by our colleagues and friends and would like to request everyone to pray for their safety,” the Dawood family said in a statement.
Paul-Henri Nargeolet, “Titanic’s Greatest Explorer”
Nargeolet is known as a Titanic expert, according to the OceanGate website. He’s led six expeditions to the ship’s wreckage site and is known as “Titanic’s Greatest Explorer,” the company said.
He’s also the director of underwater research for RMS Titanic, an American company that owns the salvage rights to the wreck and operates exhibits featuring artifacts from the ship. About 30 million people have visited its exhibits, according to the company.
In an interview with CBS News, G. Michael Harris, founder of RMS Titanic Inc., said Tuesday that he has worked with Nargeolet for the past 30 years, describing him as an “all-around good guy.”
Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate
Rush, the CEO of the company running the expedition, is also the pilot of the missing Titan expedition.
When he was 19, Rush was the youngest person to become a jet transport-rated pilot when he earned a DC-8 Type/Captain’s rating at the United Airlines Jet Training Institute, according to his biography at OceanGate.
Rush earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Princeton University in 1984 and an MBA from the Berkeley Haas School of Business in 1989. In 2009, Rush founded OceanGate, where he oversees the company’s financial and engineering strategies, according to the company.