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Titan sub 2.0? Billionaire plans to take US$20M sub to Titanic wreck – National

In an effort to prove that the deep-sea submersible industry is safe, a billionaire real estate investor plans to take a new sub to the wreck of the Titanic — the same voyage taken by the ill-fated Titan sub, which imploded and killed all five of its passengers.

Larry Connor, an Ohio businessman who occasionally moonlights as a race car driver and private astronaut, is teaming up with Triton Submarines for the dive. The CEO of the submersible manufacturer, Patrick Lahey, will accompany Connor on the journey to the Titanic in a two-person sub.

“I want to show people worldwide that while the ocean is extremely powerful, it can be wonderful and enjoyable and really kind of life-changing if you go about it the right way,” Connor told the Wall Street Journal.

Click to play video: 'Titan sub disaster: New documentary explores tragedy'

Titan sub disaster: New documentary explores tragedy

The Ohio billionaire is no stranger to adventure, having travelled to the depths of the Mariana Trench, the deepest ocean trench in the world, as well as the International Space Station within the span of a year.

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Connor and Lahey will be taking a US$20 million sub to reach the Titanic. The sub, called the Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer, was designed by Lahey over a period of 10 years, Connor said.

“Patrick has been thinking about and designing this for over a decade. But we didn’t have the materials and technology,” Connor said. “You couldn’t have built this sub five years ago.”

The “4000” in the name represents the depth in metres that the sub can reach. The wreck of the Titanic rests at a depth of 3,800 metres.

Not to be confused with OceanGate’s Titan sub, which imploded last June — this is a Triton sub.

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The idea for the dive to the Titanic came just a few days after the Titan sub was confirmed lost, according to the Wall Street Journal. Connor called Lahey, who he had worked with in the past for his Mariana Trench dive, with an idea.

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“He called me up and said, ‘You know, what we need to do is build a sub that can dive to (Titanic-level depths) repeatedly and safely and demonstrate to the world that you guys can do that, and that Titan was a contraption,” Lahey said.

No official date for the dive has been set.

Triton Submarines, founded in 2008, has been making personal submersibles for wealthy clients to put on their yachts for years. But the company’s subs have also been used by the BBC for the filming of Blue Planet II and, in 2019, the Triton 36000/2 brought Victor Vescovo to the deepest point in the world. Vescovo became the first person to reach Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench, using the sub.

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Triton, as well as other submersible companies, suddenly found their business under intense scrutiny after the Titan submersible went missing in the Atlantic during a dive to the Titanic wreck. An international team of rescuers searched for the sub for days until a debris field was found, consistent with a “catastrophic implosion of the vessel,” the U.S. Coast Guard announced.

All five passengers on board died. The passengers included billionaire adventurer Hamish Harding, Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, OceanGate’s CEO Stockton Rush, and a wealthy businessman and his son, Shahzada and Suleman Dawood.

Click to play video: '‘Rescue turned to recovery’: Titanic sub search crews recounts emotional discovery of debris'

‘Rescue turned to recovery’: Titanic sub search crews recounts emotional discovery of debris

“This tragedy had a chilling effect on people’s interest in these vehicles,” Lahey said. “It reignited old myths that only a crazy person would dive in one of these things.”

Lahey and others in the submersible industry had been critical of OceanGate and the Titan sub before the tragic voyage. He seeks to draw a distinction between the Triton’s “classed” submersibles, versus OceanGate’s “unclassed” subs.

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Triton uses third-party maritime societies to assess their deep-sea vehicles, but OceanGate’s Titan sub was an unclassed, experimental build that used crack-prone carbon fibre and video game controllers as parts.

Rush, OceanGate’s CEO who died on the sub, said he didn’t want to be bogged down by regulations and standards.

“Bringing an outside entity up to speed on every innovation before it is put into real-world testing is anathema to rapid innovation,” he wrote in a blog post on his company’s website.

It remains to be seen if the Triton sub will succeed where the Titan failed.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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