Nigerian politician and billionaire Ned Nwoko has revealed how he declined an invitation to participate in the OceanGate submersible expedition that ended in tragedy on June 18, 2023. The expedition was meant to explore the wreckage of the Titanic ship, which sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg.
Nwoko said one of the victims of the disaster was his friend and business partner, Captain Hermish Harding, a British pilot and adventurer who had flown across the world in a record-breaking expedition by Guinness World Record for circumnavigation of the earth.
Harding had also invited Nwoko to join him on his space shuttle last year and on the Titan adventure to the Titanic debris underwater.
However, Nwoko said he was tied down with national duties as a senator representing Delta North in the 10th National Assembly and could not join Harding on the ill-fated Titanic expedition.
He said he received a message from Harding on Sunday, June 18, 2023, informing him that they were ready to dive into the Titanic if the weather permits.
Nwoko expressed his grief and shock over the loss of his friend, who was also a partner on various research projects for malaria eradication in Africa. He said his heart bleeds for Harding’s wife and children, who have become family friends over the years.
The OceanGate submersible carrying Harding and four others suffered a “catastrophic implosion” at a depth of about 3,800 meters (12,467 feet), according to OceanGate. The other casualties included OceanGate founder Stockton Rush, French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, and his 19-year-old son Suleman.
The United States Coast Guard declared them dead after days of searching, as the small vessel transporting them to the 111-year-old Titanic wreckage site was not found. The cause of the implosion is still under investigation.