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A US billionaire aims to prove that exploring the Titanic can still be done safely

Real estate mogul Larry Connor is building a novel submersible that he says will be ready to reach the wreck of the Titanic by mid-2026
  • He wants to change perceptions of ‘danger or tragedy’ that have tarnished deep-sea exploration since an OceanGate submersible catastrophically imploded a year ago

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UPDATED: 30 May 2024, 7:55 am

In the wake of the OceanGate disaster, a US billionaire is on a mission to prove that the Titanic wreck can still be explored safely, the New York Times reports.

Real estate mogul Larry Connor, 74, is working with the co-founder of Triton Submarines, Patrick Lahey, to build a two-person, acrylic-hulled submersible capable of reaching depths of around 4,000 metres. The Titanic lies at a depth of 3,800 metres, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

Connor and Lahey’s novel design will differ significantly from the carbon fibre and titanium submersible used by now defunct company OceanGate to transport people to the Titanic. In June last year. OceanGate’s Titan submersible imploded – killing its five passengers and raising serious questions around the feasibility of deep-sea tourism.

[See more: An Australian billionaire is launching his Titanic II project for a third time]

The new submersible was expected to be ready for its first Titanic voyage in mid-2026. Connor has said the journey will be both a research mission and a means of demonstrating that “you can build a revolutionary, first-of-its-kind sub and dive it safely and successfully to great depths.”

He said he was concerned that the OceanGate implosion had damaged efforts to innovate in the submersible industry, tainting the field of deep-sea exploration with connotations of “danger or tragedy.”

The Triton sub is still in its design phase. Connor said its final cost had yet to be determined, but estimates put it at tens of millions of US dollars.

[See more: Rising sea temperatures could make octopuses blind, a new study says]

The design is based on an existing Triton model with a transparent, bubble-shaped cockpit, giving its two passengers a 320-degree view of their watery surrounds – a significant visibility improvement on the small portal windows of the Titan.

Connor is an amateur adventurer from Ohio who made his billions in real estate. He is also a NASA-certified private astronaut with prior deep-sea experience. He and Lahey explored the Mariana Trench together in 2021, reaching depths of around 10,000 metres.

Triton Submarines is a Florida-headquartered company that designs and manufactures luxury submersibles for research, filming, deep-ocean exploration and high-end tourism. It was founded in 2008.

UPDATED: 30 May 2024, 7:55 am

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