A US luxury real estate billionaire, Larry Connor, and deep-sea explorer, Patrick Lahey, are planning an ambitious submersible expedition to the Titanic wreck.

The Ohio tycoon and adventurer, along with Lahey, co-founder of Triton Submarines, intend to dive to a depth of approximately 3,800 meters (12,467 feet) in the North Atlantic Ocean to explore the famous shipwreck.

The private submersible industry was shaken last year when five people died in the implosion of an OceanGate vessel en route to the Titanic. A spokesperson for Connor’s company stated on Tuesday that their proposed voyage would proceed only after the submersible is fully certified by a marine organization. Currently, there is no set timeframe for the expedition.

Connor and Lahey plan to use the Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer submersible, which is designed to safely operate at depths of up to 4,000 meters. This contrasts with the Titan submarine built by OceanGate, which was constructed from carbon fiber and certified only to a depth of 1,300 meters, much shallower than the Titanic’s resting place.

In June 2023, the Titan vessel tragically imploded during a dive to the Titanic wreckage, killing OceanGate's CEO Stockton Rush and four other passengers: British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, British businessman Hamish Harding, and former French navy diver Paul-Henry Nargeolet. Rush had been known for taking safety risks, ignoring multiple warnings from advisors about potential issues with the Titan. Investigations by US and Canadian authorities are ongoing.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Connor expressed his motivation for the planned Triton expedition: “I want to show people worldwide that while the ocean is extremely powerful, it can be wonderful, enjoyable, and life-changing if you approach it the right way.”

The Titan disaster had a significant negative impact on the private submersible industry. OceanGate suspended its operations, and other companies saw a decline in sales and cancellations. Lahey remarked, “This tragedy had a chilling effect on people’s interest in these vehicles.”

Larry Connor, head of The Connor Group, a real estate investment firm near Dayton, Ohio, also paid to fly to the International Space Station in 2022. In 2021, Connor and Lahey ventured together to the Challenger Deep and the Sirena Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest points on Earth’s seabed at nearly 36,000 feet.

Triton Submarines, co-founded by Lahey in 2008, has been contacted for comment regarding the upcoming expedition. The duo hopes that a successful voyage to the Titanic will reignite interest in deep-sea exploration and restore confidence in the private submersible industry. Photo by GemCityFlyer, Wikimedia commons.