Ohio Billionaire Boarding $20 Million Deep Sea Submersible To Prove How Safe Industry Is After OceanGate Disaster

By: Alex Trent | Published: May 29, 2024

Larry Conner, a billionaire from Ohio, is hoping to take a deep-sea submersible to “titanic-level depths” in an effort to improve the reputation of the industry after the OceanGate disaster last year.

The OceanGate disaster involved the tragic deaths of a small crew due to an underwater submarine implosion, an incident that garnered attention online for the high net wealth of the participants.

Billionaire Journey

Larry Connor is a real estate investor in Dayton Ohio and told the Wall Street Journal about his plan to take a two-person submersible to the Titanic wreck site which is over 12,000 feet below sea level.

A briefcase filled with $100 bills.

Source: Pixabay/Pexels

Connor will be taking the trip with Triton submarine co-founder Patrick Lahey in a Triton 4000 Abyssal Explorer vehicle.


Going About It the Right Way

Connor explained his motivations for the trip to the Wall Street Journal, saying he wants to show the world that these kinds of trips may be dangerous but the experience is worth it.

An image depicting a serene sunset over the ocean, with the sun partially obscured by clouds

Source: Joseph Barrientos/Unsplash

“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 said.

Triton Submarine

The vessel that the pair reportedly plan to take is a the Triton 4000 Abyssal Explorer, which Triton Submarines describes as “The world’s deepest diving acrylic sub.”

The bow of the titanic wreckage seen underwater.

Source: NOAA/Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island/Wikimedia

“The TRITON 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer is the only acrylic-hulled submersible commercially certified for dives in excess of 13,000 ft. Like all other Tritons, it takes advantage of our exclusive manufacturing process to produce the world’s only completely colourless, optically perfect hulls,” the Triton website says.

New Technology

In his comments to the WSJ, Connor was excited about the recent advancement in technology for deep-sea submersibles.

An up-close view of the blue water of the Indian Ocean.

Source: Steven Wilcox/Unsplash

“Patrick has been thinking about and designing this for over a decade. But we didn’t have the materials and technology,” Connor said. “You couldn’t have built this sub five years ago.”

Done Without Disaster

According to WSJ reporting, Connor chose this deep-sea voyage to prove that such a trip can be done without causing a disaster.

Rough waves seen in the Atlantic Ocean in the daytime.

Source: Aaron Burden/Unsplash

“He called me up and 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,’” Lahey said.


Deep Sea Experience

This is not the first time that Connor will be boarding a deep-sea submersible. The billionaire has also previously explored the Mariana Trench.

A look at underwater exploration with lights shining in the darkness.

Source: NOAA/Unsplash

Previously, Lahey had been critical of OceanGate for their safety standards and characterized the approach that CEO Stockton Rush took towards them as “quite predatory.”


Titan Tragedy

In June of last year, the submersible known as “Titan” took a deep sea expedition to explore the wreck of the Titanic.

An artist rendering of the Oceangate Submersible.

Source: Madelgarius/Wikimedia

After almost 2 hours into the dive, contact was lost with the vessel and an investigation revealed that an implosion event from the pressure hull caused the instant death of all five people inside.


Rich Deaths

As the story reached viral attention online, many people took note of the net worth of the individuals. Karl Stanley, a friend of OceanGate’s deceased former CEO, pointed out the dynamic in a 60 Minutes interview.

A man buttons his suit jacket as he walks down stairs.

Source: Hunters Race/Unsplash

“He definitely knew it was going to end like this. He literally and figuratively went out with the biggest bang in human history that you can go out with,” Stanley said. “He was the last person to murder two billionaires at once and have them pay for the privilege.”


Billionaire Mousetrap

In the interview, Stanley expressed his belief that Stockton knew of the dangers and risks but continued on with his plans anyway, reckless with the ultimate consequences for himself and the other passengers.

A collection of materials meant to capture a mouse.

Source: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

“I think Stockton was designing a mousetrap for billionaires,” Stanley said.


Hate Against the Rich

Many online expressed indifference to the tragedy because of the wealth of the victims of the submersible explosion, viewing the story as a tale of ego. “Reading people’s reactions to the folks dying on the submarine has been getting to me. People seem to be reveling in it that rich people died. Some of the comments are rejoicing in their death and sound psychopathic to me, yet are highly upvoted,” said one Reddit user.

A man wearing a suit with his face obscured.

Source: Ruthson Zimmerman/Unsplash

“They climbed in a Pringles Can to gawk at a moldy boat. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes,” wrote another Reddit user in response.


Similar Response

While Connor hopes to change the perception people expressed after the OceanGate disaster last year, many have reacted to the news of Connor’s voyage with skepticism at this seeming trend of rich people drawn to exploring Titanic wreckage.

A view of the Indian Ocean during sunset underneath a cloudy blue sky.

Source: Jeremy Ducray/Unsplash

“Submarines and the Titanic are a billionaire’s Kryptonite,” wrote a user on X.