During a voyage to visit the infamous Titanic shipwreck that sank in 1912, a small submarine – known as the OceanGate Titan – carried five passengers on board.
However, approximately one hour and 45 minutes into their journey, the US Coast Guard sadly declared that contact with the vehicle had been lost, leaving its whereabouts unknown somewhere beneath the Atlantic Ocean.
In a tragic turn of events, a British billionaire has found himself in a dire situation aboard the submersible – and his final words have been shared.
Watch as a journalist who has been on the now-missing submarine for a Titanic expedition explains what it’s like below…
The chilling final text message sent by renowned explorer Hamish Harding revealed that unfavourable weather conditions had plagued the sea in the days leading up to the ill-fated journey.
Despite the risks involved, Harding and his companions remained undeterred by the dangers that lay ahead.
Just a day before the launch of the OceanGate Expeditions-operated submersible, Harding shared his excitement with retired NASA astronaut Colonel Terry Virts.
He wrote: “Hey, we’re headed out tomorrow, it looks good, the weather’s been bad so they’ve been waiting for this.”
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While sharing the final message with ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Virts said he and his thrill-seeking friend ‘don’t really talk about risks’.
Virts added: “He understood the risks for sure, there’s no doubt about that.
“He went down to the deepest part of the ocean, set a few world records… at the Mariana Trench [the deepest part of the ocean] and we talked quite a bit about the risks and the different things that they were going to be able to do.
“So he was very excited about it.”
Harding, a seasoned traveller and holder of three Guinness World Records, has an impressive resume of daring expeditions.
Most notably, he was among the select few astronauts to venture into space aboard the Blue Origin mission the previous year.
His adventures also include multiple journeys to the South Pole, plus a remarkable expedition with retired Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, during which Aldrin became the oldest person to reach the pole at the age of 86.
Accompanying Harding on this treacherous OceanGate voyage were four other individuals, including Shahzada Dawood, one of Pakistan’s wealthiest men, and his son Sulaiman Dawood.
The identities of the remaining passengers aboard the submersible were unclear, though Harding had mentioned the presence of French navy diver P.H. Nargeolet, who had led previous expeditions to visit the Titanic.
OceanGate Expeditions, the private company responsible for launching the vessel, offered exclusive tours of the Titanic wreckage site at a hefty price of $250,000 per person.
The company marketed the reported eight-day trip as an extraordinary opportunity to escape the ordinary and discover something truly remarkable.
However, tragedy struck when the submersible failed to return to its support ship as scheduled, prompting a search and rescue operation.
The vessel, incapable of independent submersion and return to port like a standard submarine, was reported missing on Sunday.
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The Coast Guard has a limited window of 70 to 96 hours to locate the submersible and rescue its occupants before their oxygen supply is depleted.
The search efforts focuses on an area approximately 1,448 kilometres off the coast of Cape Cod, at a staggering depth of around 3,962 meters.
If successful, this will mark the deepest rescue mission in history.
Despite the challenges, authorities have deployed both aircraft and ships in their search for the missing submersible.
Additionally, they have worked to obtain a remotely operated vehicle capable of descending to depths of up to 6,096 metres to aid in locating the vessel.
However, experts have cautioned that few crafts possess the capability to reach such extreme depths, let alone attach to the submersible and tow it to the surface.
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