He dedicated his life to exploring the Titanic. Now the owners of the salvage rights will honor him

Jul 19, 2023, 8:13 AM

FILE - Commander Paul-Henri Nargeolet laughs, at Black Falcon Pier in Boston on Sept. 1, 1996. The missing submersible Titan imploded near the wreckage of the Titanic, killing all five people aboard, Shahzada Dawood, Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Stockton Rush, and Hamish Harding, the U.S. Coast Guard announced, Thursday, June 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Jim Rogash, File)

(AP Photo/Jim Rogash, File)

The company that owns the salvage rights to the wreck of the Titanic is holding a virtual memorial for one of the world’s foremost experts about the ship a month after he died with four others in a submersible explosion.

Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, died when the Titan submersible descended into deep North Atlantic waters on June 18 to explore the Titanic — something Nargeolet had done dozens of times before. Investigators believe the submersible, owned by a private company, imploded during the descent, killing everyone aboard.

Nargeolet was the director of underwater research for RMS Titanic Inc., an Atlanta-based company that owns the salvage rights for the world’s most famous shipwreck. The company said in a social media post that it’s holding a memorial service for Nargeolet that will be streamed publicly around the world on Wednesday.

RMS Titanic Inc. said the memorial will “provide an outlet for the world-wide Titanic and oceanographic communities to remember our colleague and friend, and express our grief together.” The event is happening a day after the company opened an exhibit in Paris showcasing thousands of artifacts from the Titanic’s debris field.

“Many of the artifacts on display were recovered by or recovered under the supervision of Paul-Henri Nargeolet and his dedicated team. An intrepid explorer with an indomitable pioneering spirit, PH fearlessly ventured into the depths of the ocean to unravel its mysteries and educate the public,” the company said in a social media post.

Representatives for RMS Titanic Inc. did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press. The company said on its website that Nargeolet, who they knew as “PH,” will be “always in our hearts and thoughts” and was “a true explorer of his time.”

Nargeolet was a former French navy officer who has been remembered by friends as one of the world’s great undersea explorers. He led the first recovery expedition to the Titanic in the late 1980s, not long after the wreckage of the ship was finally discovered.

Also killed in the implosion were pilot Stockton Rush, founder of OceanGate Inc., the company that owned the submersible; two members of a prominent Pakistani family, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood; and British adventurer Hamish Harding.

The implosion remains under investigation by multiple authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard has convened a Marine Board of Investigation, its highest level of investigation, and has said it will hold a public hearing in the future.

OceanGate, which was based in Everett, Washington, announced earlier this month that it suspended all operations. Its website was shuttered on Wednesday save for a single page acknowledging the suspension of operations.

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He dedicated his life to exploring the Titanic. Now the owners of the salvage rights will honor him