The UK-based Pakistani businessman and his teenage son who are among the five people trapped on a submarine that went missing near the Titanic wreckage have been pictured today.
Shahzada Dawood, 48, a board member of the Prince’s Trust charity, and his son Sulaiman Dawood, 19, were on board the 22ft craft taking paying tourists to view the wreck 12,500ft under water when they lost signal in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
Their family, including Shahzada’s wife Christine and daughter Alina, are waiting for news of the pair.
But former Royal Navy commander Ryan Ramsey, 53, today warned there is ‘no way’ of rescuing the crew, which includes British billionaire Hamish Harding, if the craft is still thousands of feet under the sea because the technology required ‘doesn’t exist’.
But the vessel could well be floating on the surface of the water, meaning it will be easier for rescue crews to locate the submarine before the air runs out.
Ramsey, who served in the Navy’s submarine service for 23 years, told MailOnline that those on board – including French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet and OceanGate chief executive Stockton Rush – will now be facing dwindling oxygen levels, while another expert warned the crew members face the risk of hypothermia.
‘There is no way of rescuing them,’ said the naval veteran, who commanded a Royal Navy nuclear submarine. ‘Most rescue systems can get only reach 500m (1,640ft) not 3,000m (9,000ft).
‘The technology, as far as I’m aware, doesn’t exist to carry out a rescue operation that deep. If they are still in a position to be rescued, they’re running out of air and creating more carbon dioxide – that’s a killer.’
Rescue crews from the US and Canada are still trying to find the vessel, which is understood to have last ‘pinged’ whilst directly above the Titanic wreck, before the air onboard runs out. It is believed the submarine has enough oxygen to last under water until 12pm on Thursday UK time (7am EST).
Ramsey, from Oxford, said he feared that it was unlikely the vessel, if it has suffered a catastrophic failure, would ever be recovered. Indeed, the US Coast Guard today said its crews were searching an area roughly the size Connecticut – which is similar to that of Northern Ireland.
Sulaiman Dawood, 19, who is missing on board the submarine is pictured with his mother Christine
Shahzada Dawood, 48, (pictured with his wife Christine) a UK-based board member of the Prince’s Trust charity, and his son Sulaiman Dawood, 19, are amongst the five people missing in the submarine that set off to see the wreck of the Titanic, it was revealed today
File image of the Titan submersible that has gone missing in the Atlantic Ocean
Pictured: The tiny underwater craft leaving the port in St. John’s in Canada with the five crew members on board
The submarine was seen being towed by the mothership MV Polar Prince out to sea to the wreckage site of the Titanic
Among those taking part in the expedition is billionaire Hamish Harding (pictured), CEO of Action Aviation in Dubai. He excitedly posted to social media about being there on Sunday
French Navy veteran PH Nargeolet (left) is believed to be taking part in the expedition, along with Stockton Rush (right), CEO of the OceanGate Expedition
‘It’s probably imploded by now,’ he added. ‘The pressures at that depth are absolutely huge. If there’s a fault in any part of that submarine or any crack then quickly the pressure takes hold and crushes it.’
Asked what he thought when he heard about the crisis, he said: ‘It made my blood run cold. The people who decided to go down there are adventurers and they push the limits of what humans can do.
‘But if you [look] at the YouTube footage of that submarine, you could question the integrity of it. When I looked at it there was no way I would have done it and I have been under water most of my life.’
It comes as heartbreaking photographs emerged of Shahzada and Sulaiman smiling broadly with Christine.
Further photos emerged today showing the craft they were on leaving the port in St. John’s in Canada. The submersible was seen being towed by the mothership MV Polar Prince out to sea to the wreckage site.
But hours after the final images were taken, the submarine descended to the dark depths of the Atlantic Ocean to view the wreck 12,500ft underwater before losing all communication with the Polar Prince – 350 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
The sub, owned and operated by OceanGate Expeditions, had launched at around 4am on Sunday and was taking the crew 12,500ft under water as part of its £195,000-a-head tour of the 1912 shipwreck.
But the crew lost communication with the sub’s mothership MV Polar Prince an hour and 45 minutes into the two-hour descent and there is now a desperate search to find the vessel and those on board before the air runs out.
And as the terrifying race against time began yesterday afternoon, rescuers admitted the submersible could have become stuck in the wreckage of the Titanic, which is 370 miles from Newfoundland in Canada but lies in US waters.
Submarine experts also fear the vessel is too deep for a manned rescue sub, such as the US Navy sub which is limited to 2,000ft, and that the only way of reaching it may be using a remote operated vehicle. These can reach a maximum depth of 20,000ft.
David Gallo, an oceanographer and senior adviser at RMS Titanic, said that if the submersible is still intact, the five onboard will be facing dwindling oxygen levels and fighting the cold and facing the risk of hypothermia.
‘One of the biggest things is where is it? Is it on the bottom, is it floating, is it mid-water? That is something that has not been determined yet… We will have to wait and see and hope for the best,’ Gallo added.
He added that if the submersible is located, the rescue crew would find it difficult to rescue those on board the vessel.
‘The water is very deep – two miles plus. It’s like a visit to another planet, it’s not what people think it is. It is a sunless, cold environment and high pressure,’ he said.
The desperate families of those on board – Shahzada Dawood and his son Sulaiman, Mr Harding, Mr Nargeolet and Mr Rush – are now desperately waiting for news of their loved ones.
‘We are very grateful for the concern being shown by our colleagues and friends and would like to request everyone to pray for their safety,’ the Dawood family said in a statement.
The Dawood family are among the richest in Pakistan, but have strong links to the UK and Shahzada lives in a six-bedroom £3.3million house in Surbiton, Surrey, with wife Christine, who works as a life coach, son Sulaiman and daughter Alina.
Their neighbour Ellen Maby, 48, told MailOnline of her shock when she saw the news that Shahzada and Sulaiman were on the submarine.
She said: ‘They are such a lovely, lovely couple and when I saw it on the TV I was shocked. You couldn’t wish for lovelier neighbours.
‘The children are so sweet and polite and Christine is so kind, she was wonderful to me when my mother was ill. They’ve lived her about ten years and we see them every now and then but to be honest they are away a lot as they are a very transient family.
‘We are just hoping and praying that they come out of this alive. It’s so awful to think about.’
Shahzada is the Vice Chairman of Engro Corporation, which makes fertilisers, food and energy, as well as the Dawood Hercules Corporation, which makes chemicals. Shahzada’s father Hussain, 79, is chairman of both companies.
Shahzada is also a member of the Global Advisory Board for King Charles’ Charity, Prince’s Trust. He is also in the Founder’s Circle of the British Asian Trust.
The father-of-two is also on the board of trustees for the California-based SETI Institute that searches for extraterrestrial intelligence.
He was born in Pakistan but moved to the UK to study law at the University of Buckingham. He went on to study for Master’s in textile marketing in 2000 at Philadelphia University.
Shahzada had decided to take his son Sulaiman on the ‘Titan’ – the name of the Titanic submersible – for the five-day trip with three others when disaster struck and they lost contact with the surface after appearing to close in on their destination.
It’s understood that Titan communicates by sending a ping to the Polar Prince every 15 minutes – the last of which was received while the submersible floated above the Titanic wreckage at about 10am EST yesterday (3pm UK time).
It was at that moment that chaos ensued. A distress call was sent to the US Coast Guard at 9pm, whose Boston branch is leading an operation to carry out what would be the deepest undersea rescue mission ever.
Shahzada Dawood, 48, who is currently missing, is pictured here with his wife Christine
The submersible, Titan, is seen moments before it descended on its current dive on Sunday
Pictured: File photo of inside the missing OceanGate Expeditions submarine which is currently missing with five people on board
Shahzada Dawood (pictured) and his son Sulaiman Dawood were on board the small underwater craft take paying tourists to view the famous wreck
Shahzada Dawood (pictured) and his son Sulaiman Dawood were on board the small underwater craft which takes paying tourists to view the famous wreck
The crew is understood to have enough oxygen to last under water until 12pm Thursday (7am EST). Pictured: Harding, who is aboard the sub, and his son
Among those taking part in the expedition is billionaire Hamish Harding, CEO of Action Aviation in Dubai. He excitedly posted to social media about being there on Sunday
British businessman Mr Harding, who lives in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, was one of the mission specialists on board the vessel, according to Action Aviation, a company for which Harding serves as chairman.
Harding is a billionaire adventurer who holds three Guinness World Records, including the longest duration at full ocean depth by a crewed vessel. In March 2021, he and ocean explorer Victor Vescovo dived to the lowest depth of the Mariana Trench. In June 2022, he went into space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket.
Action Aviation’s managing director Mark Butler said: ‘There is still plenty of time to facilitate a rescue mission, there is equipment on board for survival in this event. We’re all hoping and praying he comes back safe and sound.’
But with less than 52 hours of air left between five crew members until Thursday, Rear Admiral John W. Mauger said that the US Coast Guard is working ‘as hard as possible’ to find it while ‘lives are at risk’.
But former Coast Guardsman John Mixson told Fox News it was an ‘extremely serious and dire situation’, adding: ‘It’s hard to say whenever you just lose total communications in a situation like that what actually happened until you find the vessel.
‘This isn’t a common occurrence at all. Obviously, something very rapid and very tragic took place.’
But writer Mike Reiss, who took the Titanic submersible trip last year, said he feels ‘optimistic’ for the missing OceanGate craft. Mr Reiss told BBC Breakfast communication was also lost during his dive down to the Titanic.
Mr Reiss said: ‘I’m optimistic just because I know the logistics of it. And I know really again, how vast the ocean is, and how very tiny the craft is.
He added: ‘So the idea is, if it’s down at the bottom, I don’t know how anyone’s going to be able to access it, much less bring it back up.
‘There is a hope that it’s at, or near, the surface. I did three separate dives. I did one dive to the Titanic and two more off the coast of New York.
‘Every time they lost communication and again, this is not a shoddy ship or anything.’
In contrast, an expert on the history of the Titanic said he is ‘very worried about the souls’ on board the missing submersible.
Tim Maltin, an author, historian and TV presenter said the tourists were in a difficult situation.
Mr Maltin said on BBC Breakfast: ‘If it’s near the Titanic it would be easier to find, but the problem is of course you can’t do a ship-to-ship transfer even, the pressure is absolutely intense.
‘It’s nearly two miles miles down, it’s pitch black.
‘So I also am very, very worried about the souls who are on board.’
He added: ‘I think they’re quite brave people who have been down there, but equally they know the risks but no one expects it to go wrong on your dive.’
OceanGate, whose website says customers do not require any previous diving experience but that there are ‘a few physical requirements like being able to board small boats in active seas’, said it was receiving help from government agencies and deep-sea companies.
The eight-day trip includes a two hour dive to the Titanic wreck and the same on the way up. It can be around eight to ten hours in total.
David Concannon, an adviser to OceanGate who had actually planned to be on the expedition, said that officials are working to get a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that can reach a depth of 20,000ft to the site as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, C-130s and P-8s from the US and Canada are also being used to assist in the search in the remote area of the ocean, 900 miles east of Cape Cod and 370 miles southeast of southernmost Newfoundland.
Pictured: File photo of outside the missing OceanGate Expeditions submarine which is currently missing with five people on board
The Boston Coast Guard is now looking for the missing vessel. The wreckage of the iconic ship sits 12,500ft underwater around 370 miles from Newfoundland, Canada
Video from a previous mission shows the interior of the submersible that has been underwater since the early hours of Sunday
Commercial ships helping the rescue mission also have access to sonar buoys which are capable of listening to a depth of 13,000ft, the Coast Guard said.
Admiral Mauger conceded that the craft may have become stuck in the Titanic’s wreckage and said the rescue mission was ‘very complicated’.
‘We’re working as hard as possible, bringing all assets to bear to try and find the submersible,’ he added.
‘We were notified yesterday [Sunday] afternoon and we began immediately to mobilise assets to search both the surface of the water, search from the air, and to detect any vessels under the water as well. We’ve had a comprehensive search to find these people.’
Admiral Mauger said the coastguard did not have the capabilities to reach it, if that was the case, telling Fox News: ‘We don’t have equipment onsite that can do a survey of the bottom…there is a lot of debris [at this wreckage] so locating will be difficult.
‘We don’t have the capabilities at this time. Right now, we’re focused on trying to locate it.’
Former Rear Admiral Chris Parry, during a separate appearance on Sky News, echoed Mauger’s concerns.
‘It’s very worrying. It could have become entangled in the wreckage of Titanic, we don’t know yet,’ said Parry.
‘The wreck site is a long way from anywhere. The only hope one has is that the mothership will have a standby craft that can investigate immediately what is going on.’
OceanGate, which was founded in 2009, had chartered the MV Polar Prince, to take them to the dive site.
The crew was diving to the ocean floor to survey the Titanic wreckage
Images from Ocean Gate, one of the tour companies that operates the expeditions, show the wreckage
Harding has been into space, visited both poles, circumnavigated the globe and holds three Guinness World Records
Harding excitedly posted to social media about being on the mission
Harding’s post before the dive. The boat departed St John in Newfoundland on Saturday
Harding’s stepson posted on social media that he was among the missing
Before the expedition, Mr Harding had messaged his friend, retired Nasa astronaut Colonel Terry Virts, to say: ‘Hey, we’re headed out tomorrow, it looks good, the weather’s been bad so they’ve been waiting for this.’
As rescue teams continued the search for the submersible vessel, Colonel Virts added that he and his friend ‘don’t really talk about risks’.
The Titan subs have no way of directing themselves under water. Instead, they rely on text messages from the mothership, instructing them where to go.
The missing tourist sub is classified as a submersible, not a submarine, because it does not function as an autonomous craft, and relies instead on a support platform.
Last year, a CBS journalist was on the mothership when the sub went off course. It was missing for two-and-a-half hours before it returned but none of those onboard were harmed.
Tickets for the trip cost £195,000 for an eight-day excursion during which groups pair off into smaller pods to dive in the submersibles for up to ten hours.
OceanGate advertises it as ‘a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to ‘safely dive the Titanic wreckage site’ in a ‘12,500-foot journey to the bottom of the sea’.
Wealthy tourists are told that ‘if money isn’t an object and you don’t mind close quarters’, then they can ‘step outside of everyday life and discover something truly extraordinary’.
OceanGate confirmed its sub was missing, writing: ‘We are exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely.
Multiple C-130 aircraft are now assisting in the aerial search for the vessel, which has not been heard from since Sunday morning
The Polar Prince is the expedition ship used to take tourists from Newfoundland out to the wreckage site. The sub is deployed once out at sea
‘Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families. We are working toward the safe return of the crewmembers.’
The sub uses Elon Musk’s Starlink to communicate with its mothership because it is so far out to sea.
Before the trip, London-born Harding excitedly posted to social media about being there. Harding said it a ‘window’ had opened up that would allow the group to dive.
‘A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow. We started steaming from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada yesterday and are planning to start dive operations around 4am tomorrow morning,’ he wrote.
His company, Action Aviation, posted on Sunday at 4am confirming that he was ‘diving’.
According to OceanGate’s website, one expedition is ongoing and two more have been planned for June next year.
The Titanic sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912, on its maiden voyage from England to New York after hitting an iceberg, killing more than 1,500 people. The wreckage was found in 1985, broken into two main sections.
By the early 2000s, scientists were warning that the numbers of tourists visiting the wreck were potentially damaging it – warning that holes had opened up in the decks, walls had crumpled, and that rust was spreading all over the ship. They also noted it was a graveyard, and deserved respect.