Real Estate Billionaire Trekking to Titanic on $20 Million Vessel to Show 'Right Way' After OceanGate Tragedy

The submersible in question comes from the folks at Triton Submarines and is part of a larger push to curb misconceptions about the field after the deadly 2023 implosion.

Front view of a deep-sea submersible with a clear spherical cockpit showing two seats and various controls inside
Image via Triton
Front view of a deep-sea submersible with a clear spherical cockpit showing two seats and various controls inside

As we near a year since the fatal implosion of OceanGate’s Titan submersible, the small but determined community of deep-sea explorers is looking ahead at what could be next. One journeyer in particular, in fact, was spurred into action by the deadly 2023 incident itself, as touched on in a recent Wall Street Journal feature from Kevin Koenig.

While the Titan came from the Washington-based company OceanGate, this $20 million vessel is the work of Triton Submarines, founded back in 2008 by Bruce Jones and Patrick Lahey. The latter, who's currently serving as Triton's CEO, is reported to have gotten a call from real estate billionaire Larry Connor days after the Titan tragedy had gripped the global news cycle.

Per Lahey, Connor, the managing partner of The Connor Group out of Ohio, told him that what was needed moving forward was to make a submersible that could go to such depths "repeatedly and safely" while showing the world that this type of exploration was possible, despite the negative attention on the sector following the Titan crew's demise.

"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 Journal.

Forbes lists Connor and his family’s real time net worth at an estimated $2 billion. The Connor Group, which began with the purchase of three communities in the Dayton area, now boasts a reported $5 billion in assets and over 1,300 total investors.

Though an exact timeline hasn’t been given, the plan for Connor and Lahey is for the two to go deep—as in, Titanic deep—in Triton’s 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer model. Billed as the "deepest diving acrylic sub" in the world, the Abyssal Explorer boasts a depth rating of 4,000 meters.

As detailed in the WSJ piece, available in full here, the Titan tragedy—in which all five aboard the vessel, including renowned Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, died in an implosion—resulted in the revival of "old myths" about deep-sea exploration. In short, it seems that Lahey and others like him are aiming to curb misconceptions with irrefutable proof of safety.

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