A friend of the British tycoon who went missing when the Titanic sank has said he fears his submersible is stuck at the bottom of the ocean.
Norwegian adventurer Janik Mikkelsen said he knew Hamish Harding, 58, would be ‘calm’ in a crisis.
He was one of five people aboard a submersible that began its descent to the Titanic’s resting place at 4 a.m. Sunday, about 13,000 feet below the surface.
The round trip – for which participants pay $250,000 – usually takes eight hours. But contact with the mothership was lost an hour and 45 minutes into the trip before the wreck was reached, and rescuers are now engaged in a race against time to try and recover the submarine and its crew.
“My biggest fear is that they are trapped, without help,” Mikkelsen said.
‘There is no one to reach him below.’
The US Coast Guard has no rescue submarine capable of reaching the depths of the Titanic.
Norwegian explorer Jannik Mikkelsen, pictured with Hamish Harding, whom he describes as a mentor and friend. Harding is currently missing after attempting to reach the Titanic in a submersible
Mikkelsen spoke with News Nation’s Chris Cuomo on Monday night
This is the last sighting of the submersible, Titan, which was launched on Sunday. Hamish Harding is seen in a photo shared by his company. He and four others on board remain unaccounted for
OceanGate Expeditions is the only company that offers tours. Tickets cost up to $250,000.
Mikkelsen, a photographer specializing in extreme environments, said he was deeply concerned that the crew had missed their ascent window — their expected time on the surface.
On Monday afternoon, US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mager said the submarine had 96 hours of emergency oxygen, based on information received from the ship’s operator.
‘My fear is that they haven’t made their last climbing window,’ he told Chris Cuomo on News Nation.
‘They didn’t. We’re starting to build up to the worst-case scenario.’
G. Michael Harris, a Titanic expedition leader, said he knew several people on board, and the view was dire.
He told Fox News’ Jesse Waters that there were oxygen and CO2 scrubbers on board, but ultimately no magic solution.
‘Just don’t feel good about it,’ he said.
‘When we deploy it usually takes two and a half hours to get down to the rubble site.
‘We go down to 3,980 metres. We spiral down, a corkscrew action, about three degrees per second to basically land in front of Titanic’s bow.
‘Once we get down there we start our grid search and our decay and everything that goes with the Titanic.’
Titanic expedition leader, @gmichaelharris, says more people have gone into space than the depths of the ocean where the Titanic cruise submarine was lost. He says the Navy can’t do anything now and things aren’t looking good. pic.twitter.com/JHdSSZOe3Q
— Jesse Watters (@JesseBWatters) June 20, 2023
The Boston Coast Guard is currently searching for the missing vessel. The iconic shipwreck sits under 12,500 feet of water about 370 miles off Newfoundland, Canada.
Sailors were diving to the bottom of the ocean to survey the wreckage of the Titanic
Harding excitedly posted on social media about being on the mission
The worst case scenario would be a hull explosion at around 3,200 meters, he said.
‘I don’t see anything happening at the moment. When you’re talking 6,000 pounds per square inch, that’s a dangerous environment.
‘More people have gone into space than this depth of the ocean.’
He said you had to ‘do everything perfect by the book’, and it ‘didn’t look good’.
Mikkelsen said Harding acted as his mentor and was well aware of the risks he was taking.
‘Hamish is an explorer at heart and this is one of the things on his check list,’ he said.
‘Hamish knows the risks before he starts.
‘I know that Hamish will be calm, they will work together through their checklist of options.’
Among those taking part in the campaign is billionaire Hamish Harding, CEO of Action Aviation in Dubai. She excitedly posted on social media about being there on Sunday
Harding holds the Guinness World Record for longest time underwater.
The London-born explorer set it in 2021 after diving into Earth’s deepest point, the Mariana Trench, and lasting four hours and 15 minutes.
This is one of the three Guinness World Records he has achieved.
He set another for the longest distance covered under the sea at three miles.
His first was set for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe via the North and South Poles in 2019 in a Gulfstream 650ER business jet – with Mikkelsen filming the adventure.
And last year he went to space.
The dad-of-two – who is a friend of astronaut Buzz Aldrin – recently said: ‘I used to read the Guinness World Records book as a kid. I always wondered how I could get into it. I didn’t think I could do it.
‘And I didn’t want to do something stupid like set a record for the number of bounced ping-pong balls in one day or something like that.’
During the frantic search for the Titanic submersible Monday, family members asked for prayers for Harding as her latest adventure unraveled.
Aviators, traders and adventurers are no danger to dangerous expeditions.
He told an interviewer in 2021 how his submarine, the Challenger Deep, retained a damaged thruster during its journey to the ‘truly spectacular’ Mariana Trench, seven miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
‘The sub has many safety features, including a four-day reserve of oxygen, water and emergency rations,’ he said.
‘The only problem is there are no other subs able to get there to rescue you. Another one will take three years to build.
‘So, having a four-day supply doesn’t really make a difference.
‘If something goes wrong, you’re not coming back.’
Harding, who runs an airline in Dubai, holds the distinction of being the oldest man to land on the moon – astronaut Aldrin at 86 – and the youngest, his 12-year-old son, to the South Pole.
‘Baz is an old friend of mine,’ he said.
‘We always talked about going to the South Pole together and we finally did in 2016.’
One of the tour companies operating the expedition, Ocean Gate, shows photos of the wreckage
Marine traffic shows the Canadian Coast Guard’s Horizon Arctic and Kopit Hobson 1752 now heading for the wreck and the Polar Prince, an expeditionary boat.
An only child, Harding was born in 1964 in Hammersmith, London, and graduated from Cambridge University with degrees in natural sciences and chemical engineering.
Last year, Harding was one of six astronauts in Blue Origin’s fifth human spaceflight on its New Shepard rocket.
And before another trip, to the North Pole two months before going into space, he said: ‘People, especially as they get older, have a tendency to give up on their dreams. When I think of something unusual, I try to find a way to make it happen.’
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