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An Ohio Billionaire Wants to Dive to the Titanic to Prove Submarines Are Safe. Sure, Why Not?

In the realm of deep-sea adventures, where billionaires seem to have a knack for daring (or is it reckless?) pursuits, Larry Connor, an Ohio real estate tycoon, has announced his latest escapade: plunging to the depths of the Titanic wreck in a shiny new submersible. Because, apparently, if you’ve got billions, the next logical step is to play Titanic tourist.

Connor, hailing from Dayton, has teamed up with Patrick Lahey, the co-founder of Triton Submarines, to prove that deep-sea exploration isn’t as perilous as it seems—despite some pretty compelling evidence to the contrary.

Their mission? To take a two-person submersible more than 12,400 feet down to the iconic shipwreck.

larry connor
By GemCityFlyer, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

“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 Wall Street Journal. Ah yes, because nothing screams “wonderful and enjoyable” like hurtling towards the ocean floor in a pressurized metal tube.

Their sub of choice is the Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer, a $20 million gadget that Connor swears can make the trip safely and repeatedly. Lahey’s been dreaming up this design for over a decade, and according to Connor, we finally have the tech to make it happen. “You couldn’t have built this sub five years ago,” Connor said.

Of course, because that’s exactly what the world needs right now: more billionaires testing the limits of “just because we can.”

triton submarine rendering
Rendering of the Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer via Triton Subs

This grand plan follows the tragic implosion of the Titan submersible last June, which ended disastrously, killing all five onboard—including OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush. The Titan was headed to the Titanic site when it suffered a catastrophic failure, leading to a swift and deadly implosion. Yet, undeterred by this recent horror show, Connor’s on a mission to show that deep-sea dives can be as safe as a walk in the park.

A few days after the Titan disaster, Connor rang up Lahey with a big idea: build a better sub and show the world how it’s done. Lahey recalls Connor’s pitch vividly: “[He said], you know, what we need to do is build a sub that can dive to [Titanic-level depths] repeatedly and safely and demonstrate to the world that you guys can do that, and that Titan was a contraption.”

It’s not like the deep-sea exploration industry hasn’t had its share of critics.

Lahey himself has slammed OceanGate’s safety standards, calling Rush’s approach “quite predatory.” Industry experts and even a whistleblowing employee had raised red flags about the Titan’s safety—or lack thereof.

Notably, OceanGate didn’t bother getting their sub certified by reputable safety bodies like the American Bureau of Shipping. But why let a little thing like rigorous safety checks get in the way of a good adventure?

The Titan’s implosion was a grim reminder of the ocean’s unforgiving nature.

The victims included Stockton Rush, billionaire explorer Hamish Harding, French Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, and his 19-year-old son, Sulaiman. The incident cast a dark shadow over the deep-sea exploration game, but evidently, it wasn’t enough to deter this adventurous billionaire duo.

Connor and Lahey’s upcoming voyage is shrouded in secrecy, with no firm date announced. But the message they’re pushing is clear: they want to show the world that, with the right vessel, you can safely explore the ocean’s depths.

Well, let’s hope their optimism isn’t misplaced.

In a world where billionaires often seem to be on a quest to outdo each other in the “because I can” department, it’s a bit of a nail-biter to watch them tackle something as perilous as deep-sea diving. But hey, if Connor’s journey ends up proving that submarines can safely navigate the Titanic’s watery grave, maybe we’ll all breathe a little easier. Or at least, roll our eyes a little less.