US billionaire plans submersible trip to Titanic wreck

Businessman Larry Connor and Patrick Lahey, co-founder of Triton Submarines, looking through a portal
Businessman Larry Connor (l) and Patrick Lahey, co-founder of Triton Submarines [The Connor Group]

A US luxury real estate billionaire and a deep-sea explorer are planning to travel in a submersible to explore the Titanic.

Ohio tycoon and adventurer Larry Connor and Patrick Lahey, co-founder of Triton Submarines, say they want to take a sub to a depth of around 3,800m (12,467ft) to see the shipwreck in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The private submersible industry was rocked after five people were killed when a vessel built by OceanGate imploded en route to the Titanic last year.

A spokesman for Mr Connor’s company said on Tuesday that the proposed voyage would only take place once a vessel was fully certified by a marine organisation.

There is no timeframe for the planned expedition.

The pair plan to use a sub dubbed the Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer – the “4000” refers to the depth in metres to which the craft can safely be deployed.

An illustration depicting the Triton sub that the explorers plan to use
An illustration depicting the Triton sub that the explorers plan to use [Triton Submarines/The Connor Group]

The Titan submarine built by OceanGate was constructed of carbon fibre and was only certified to 1,300m, far short of the depths of the ocean floor where the Titanic wreck lay.

In June 2023 the vessel imploded while on a trip to the Titanic wreckage. OceanGate's chief executive Stockton Rush, 61, died on board alongside four other passengers: British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his son Suleman, 19, British businessman Hamish Harding, 58, and Paul-Henry Nargeolet, 77, a former French navy diver.

Mr Rush was known for pushing the envelope when it came to safety, and he had ignored several warnings from advisers about potential issues with the Titan. Investigations by US and Canadian authorities are ongoing.

Mr Connor told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the proposed Triton expedition: “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.”

The private submersible industry suffered after the Titan disaster, and the pair hope that a successful voyage will reignite interest.

OceanGate suspended operations and other firms reported cancelled orders and declining sales after the Titan implosion. Mr Lahey told the newspaper: “This tragedy had a chilling effect on people’s interest in these vehicles.”

A rocket launch - Mr Connor also paid to fly to the International Space Station in 2022
Mr Connor also paid to fly to the International Space Station in 2022 [Getty]

Mr Lahey co-founded Triton Submarines in 2008. Mr Connor is head of The Connor Group, a real estate investment firm based near Dayton, Ohio.

In 2021, the duo ventured together in a submersible to the Challenger Deep and the Sirena Deep in the Mariana Trench. At nearly 36,000ft, the trench is the deepest point on the Earth’s seabed.

Triton Submarines has been contacted for comment.