Billionaire plans new submersible expedition to Titanic following OceanGate incident

Connor plans to build a custom submarine that will reach depths of 13,000 feet and be called "The Explorer-Return to the Titanic"

A real estate billionaire in Ohio is planning an underwater voyage to the site of the Titanic shipwreck, where a submersible imploded on its approach to the sea floor a year ago, killing all five passengers on board.

Larry Connor, 74, contacted Patrick Lahey, co-founder of Triton Submarines, and asked him to build a submarine that could safely and repeatedly reach the depths of the Titanic.

Mr. Connor plans to build a custom submarine that will reach depths of 13,000 feet and be called “The Explorer—Return to the Titanic.”

“Once subsurface, the submersible’s hydrodynamic shape — with wings folded — speeds the descent to 13,000 feet,” the company said on its website.

“The journey takes less than two hours, significantly faster than previously possible.” It will be the first acrylic-hulled sub to reach such depths, Connor said, expanding the visibility of a deep-sea sub from small window portals and cameras to a 320-degree view.

“Frankly, the technology didn’t exist even six or eight years ago,” Connor said. “It’s only been with recent developments in the last five years that you could build this.”

Connor said he wants to advance ocean exploration by innovating the field’s best tool, the submersible.

After the Titan disaster in 2023, recreational and professional underwater explorers criticised the vessel’s cost-saving design choices. Six days later, a multinational search ended with evidence of a catastrophic implosion that left no survivors.

Connor contends that the OceanGate episode has hurt the submersible industry and tainted the public’s perceptions of attempts to innovate in space. He said his sub would be certified by respected organisations that conduct rigorous testing and take two and a half to three years to build.

Connor is a record-setting skydiver, astronaut and deep-sea explorer, who in 2021 joined Lahey on three deep dives in five days.

In April 2022, Connor joined two other paying customers and a retired NASA astronaut on a SpaceX flight to the International Space Station, where they conducted research experiments.

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