Suleiman Dawood didn’t want to dive into minivan-sized deep-sea water to explore the Titanic, which sank on Sunday.
In fact, according to his paternal aunt, he was “terrible”.
But the 19-year-old, who just finished his first year at Strathclyde Business School in Glasgow, Scotland, knew the perilous journey was important to Shahjada Dawood, 49, the father of Pakistan’s president. So even though he was “not quite ready for it” and expressed his concerns to another family member, Suleman joined his lifelong Titanic-obsessed father and four strangers on a $250,000-a-head cruise 400 miles to Newfoundland this weekend.
“If you had given me a million dollars, I wouldn’t have boarded the Titan,” Shahjada’s sister Azme Dawood told NBC on Thursday.
Dawood’s harrowing confession comes after the US Coast Guard confirmed on Thursday that all five people aboard the Titan were believed to have died in a “catastrophic explosion” of the missing vessel. Officials say the submarine’s tail cone was found about 1,600 feet above the RMS Titanic and a “catastrophic loss of pressure chamber” would have killed everyone on board instantly.
The tragic news comes after a day-long search for the ship, which lost contact with its support vessel less than two hours into the trip organized by OceanGate Expeditions. Those on the boat included Sulaiman and his father; OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush; British businessman Hamish Harding; and French diver Paul-Henri Narcolet.
“I feel very bad that the whole world has to go through so much shock, so much suspense,” Dawood added. “I feel like I’m in a really bad picture with the countdown, but you don’t know what you’re counting down to.”
Affectionately known as “Mr. Titanic,” his decision to take a trip to the site was not unusual given his reputation as an experienced shipwreck investigator. The 77-year-old has already dived more than 35 sites and worked for the RMS Titanic, which holds the ship’s patent.
Narjolet’s daughter, Sidon Narjolet, said she was immediately filled with “a lot of stress, very mixed emotions” when she learned her father was among the five missing drowned. He spoke to Reuters Before Thursday’s stern confirmation about Titan, Sidon said his father knew “how to react to problems” on the submarine and that he believed he was handling the situation well.
Being on a submarine is his favorite. [near] Titanic,” she said. “He really loved being there. I loved him [dying] Where he is happy.”
Matt Tulloch, who met Narjolette while working on the RMS Titanic in the 1990s, Connecticut New Times “A consummate professional and, in many ways, a legend in the study,” his friend said Thursday.
“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who drowned as we collectively and individually mourn the loss of our long-time employee and colleague Paul Henri ‘PH’ Nargeolet,” the RMS Titan organization said in a statement Thursday. “The marine world has lost an iconic and inspirational leader in deep-sea exploration, and we have lost a dear and treasured friend.”
Explorers Club, where Harding and Nurgelot were members, issued a statement on Thursday saying they were “heartbroken” by the “sad news” of the failed mission. Dubai-based Action Aviation, which has Harding as its chairman, remembered the British businessman as “one of a kind” and said his staff “adored him”.
“He will leave a void in our lives that will never be filled,” the statement said.
Ahead of news of the exploding Titan, Harding’s stepson also took to social media to discuss his feelings about the submarine.
“Although this whole situation is a nightmare, everything about it, especially what Hamish is doing there, just makes God so bad,” he said. “I haven’t slept in days and it’s not about me, obviously I’m very worried about my mum and the situation.”
Denise Reiss, who previously traveled with Rush on several cruises, paid tribute to the OceanGate CEO. In several posts on Facebook, Reiss, the wife of former “The Simpsons” showrunner Michael Reiss, called Rush “careful and smart, pushing the limits of what’s possible.”
“We are very sorry that he died en route to the Titanic,” he added.
For Mohd Malik, Thursday’s tragic news strongly confirmed what he already believed about the fate of his friend Shahjata Dawood.
“I’ve already accepted that… I’m not optimistic,” Malik, 30, who is based in London, told The Daily Beast. “I thought it would end up being a rescue mission, not a rescue mission.”
He also noted that others close to Daouds felt a sense of false hope after hearing “crashing noises” underwater on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. However, officials said Thursday that the sound did not come from near where the Titan was eventually found and that there was no connection to the submarine.
“My parents talked to the family and they were very hopeful for a while and now they are broken,” Malik added. “They were obviously shocked when it first happened. Then they heard the news about the noise.
Malik also paid tribute to his family friend, who he was lucky enough to build his own relationship with. Shahjada was proud that the businessman was so close to his teenage son, noting that he was “one of those people who really thought outside the box, like Pakistan’s Elon Musk.”
“He was very close to his son. He took him to university last year and the whole family was very close,” Malik added.