Nearly a year after the Titan submersible’s implosion, Larry Connor, an Ohio-based real estate billionaire is preparing to go on a submersible expedition to the Titanic shipwreck to show that such deep-sea explorations can be conducted safely.

Billionaire Larry Connor Plans Safe Titanic Submersible Expedition

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Larry Connor, a billionaire with a history of daring explorations is set to take on the challenge of diving to the Titanic wreck located more than 12,400 feet below the ocean’s surface.

This mission follows the implosion of OceanGate’s Titan submersible in June 2023, which resulted in the deaths of five people including OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush.

Larry Connor’s submersible, the Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer is a $20 million state-of-the-art vessel designed for deep-sea exploration.

The submersible is named “4000” to denote its capability to reach depths of 4,000 meters, 200 meters more than the depth of the Titanic wreck.

Triton Submarines co-founder Patrick Lahey, who has been working on this design for over a decade, will accompany Connor on the voyage.

Lahey mentioned that advancements in materials and technology made the construction of this submersible possible only recently. “You couldn’t have built this sub five years ago,” he noted.

The vessel will undergo certification or “classing” by external authorities, a step that OceanGate’s Titan submersible did not take.

The Titan submersible, an experimental vessel built by OceanGate lost communication with the surface less than two hours into its dive to the Titanic.

After an extensive search, debris was discovered about 500 yards from the bow of the Titanic. The sub is believed to have imploded under extreme oceanic pressure with the implosion likely occurring in less than 40 milliseconds.

The implosion resulted in the deaths of all five aboard, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, British explorer Hamish Harding, French submarine expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Pakistani-British tycoon Shahzada Dawood, and his son Suleman Dawood.

Larry Connor is no stranger to extreme adventures. He has previously skydived from a balloon at 38,139 feet, explored the Mariana Trench at depths exceeding 35,000 feet and was one of the first private astronauts traveling to the International Space Station in 2022.

His real estate firm, The Connor Group founded in 1991 has grown to manage luxury apartment buildings across the United States, an annual return rate of 30.4%.

The firm’s success has contributed to Larry Connor’s estimated net worth of $2 billion, making him the 1,691st richest person in the world.

In June 2023, the Titan submersible imploded during a descent to the Titanic resulting in the deaths of all five people on board.

The disaster sparked global concern and led to increased scrutiny of the safety standards and certifications of deep-sea submersibles.

The Titan was the only one of approximately ten deep-diving submersibles not certified by third-party organizations such as the American Bureau of Shipping or DNV.

Larry Connor has a history of undertaking extreme and pioneering explorations. Known for his ventures into the Mariana Trench and his spaceflight to the International Space Station, Larry Connor is now focusing on the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Larry Connor contacted Patrick Lahey, co-founder of Triton Submarines, shortly after the Titan disaster. Together, they conceived the design of a new submersible capable of safely reaching and repeatedly diving to the Titanic wreck located about 12,500 feet (approximately 3,800 meters) beneath the ocean surface.

The submersible, named “The Explorer—Return to the Titanic,” draws inspiration from Triton’s 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer.

The Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer is a 15-foot-long vessel with a capability to dive up to 13,000 feet. It features a hydrodynamic silhouette, an acrylic hull, and 10-foot folding wings.

The journey to the Titanic wreck site, which lies about 400 miles from Newfoundland, Canada, takes less than two hours, faster than previous submersibles.

Larry Connor’s custom-built successor to this model will be the first acrylic-hulled submersible designed to reach such extreme depths.

Scheduled for completion by summer 2026, the vessel is expected to cost millions of dollars and will be equipped with advanced lights and cameras for close-range filming and scientific observation.

The acrylic sphere of the submersible will provide the two occupants with an unobstructed, 360-degree view of the underwater environment.

An aspect of Larry Connor’s mission is ensuring the submersible meets the highest safety standards. Unlike the Titan, which lacked third-party certification, the Abyssal Explorer will be commercially certified for dives beyond 13,000 feet.

Larry Connor has said that the proposed voyage will only take place if the submersible is fully certified by a recognized marine organization. “If we can’t do it, what we call ‘s and s’—safely and successfully—we’re just not going to do it,” he stated.

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The primary goal of Larry Connor’s mission is to re-establish confidence in the safety of deep-sea expeditions. By successfully reaching the Titanic wreck site in a certified submersible, Larry Connor and Lahey planned to prove that deep-sea exploration can be both safe and scientifically valuable.

Larry Connor’s venture also seeks to reignite interest in the private submersible industry, which saw a decline in orders and sales following the Titan disaster.

OceanGate suspended its operations after the incident. The successful execution of Larry Connor’s mission could help restore confidence and stimulate renewed interest in the industry.

Larry Connor’s background is filled with achievements and extreme explorations. Born in Albany, New York, and a graduate of Ohio University, Connor founded The Connor Group which grew its assets from $100 million to $4 billion over two decades. His business success enabled him to pursue adventurous hobbies including car racing and deep-sea diving.

In the 1980s, Larry Connor began racing formula cars and continued into the 2000s. He was part of the winning team in the 2003 Petit Le Mans and won the Baja 1000 and Baja 500 Trophy Truck series in off-road racing.

In 2021, Larry Connor teamed up with Patrick Lahey for an expedition to the Mariana Trench, diving to Challenger Deep, the deepest known underwater location on the planet.

In April 2021, he participated in the Axiom Mission 1 as a private astronaut, becoming the second-oldest person to enter orbit. He piloted the first all-private mission to the International Space Station carrying heart cells for study.

Larry Connor is dedicated to philanthropy. He founded the Connor Group Kids & Community Partners providing opportunities to disadvantaged youth in communities where his company operates.

He also established the Greater Dayton School, Ohio’s first non-religious private school for under-resourced students and Colin’s Lodge, a recreation and enrichment program for young adults with special needs.

Patrick Lahey and other industry experts have criticized OceanGate for its lack of adherence to safety standards. Lahey described OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush’s strategy as “predatory.”

The Titan submersible was built using parts from RV supplier Camping World and was labeled “experimental” multiple times in passenger waivers.

The U.S. Coast Guard in partnership with the National Transportation Safety Board and regulatory agencies from Canada and France is investigating the causes of the Titan’s implosion.

Other projects are also in the works. Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer has announced plans to build a replica of the Titanic, named Titanic II, set to sail in 2027. The new ship will follow the original’s route from Southampton to New York.

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