German who paid OceanGate to see Titanic wreck in 2021 says he was ‘incredibly lucky’ to


A German adventurer who paid to see the wreck of the Titanic on the missing Titan submarine two years ago has called the voyage a ‘suicide mission’.

Arthur Loibl, 60, dived down 12,500 feet to the Atlantic wreck site in August 2021 and says he was ‘incredibly lucky’ to survive.

His story echos much that has been learned about the OceanGate tourist vessel since it vanished on Sunday, with past reports highlighting how many components were purchased off-the-shelf. It has also been revealed to have been uncertified to dive to the necessary depths to reach the Titanic.

Speaking to German tabloid Bild, Loibl recalls the first submarine they tried didn’t work and a second attempted dive had to be abandoned. He said parts fell off and the mission went into the water five hours late due to electrical problems.

This, Loibl suspects, could be the cause of the Titan’s disappearance.

German explorer Arthur Loibl, 60, dove the 12,500 feet to the Atlantic ocean wreck side in August 2021, and says he was 'incredibly lucky' to survive. He is pictured (right) on board with OceanGate's CEO Stockton Rush (centre) and French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet (left) who are both now missing

German explorer Arthur Loibl, 60, dove the 12,500 feet to the Atlantic ocean wreck side in August 2021, and says he was ‘incredibly lucky’ to survive. He is pictured (right) on board with OceanGate’s CEO Stockton Rush (centre) and French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet (left) who are both now missing 

Speaking to German tabloid Bild, Loibl (pictured in front of the OceanGate sub) recalls that the first submarine they tried didn't work, that a second attempted dive had to be abandoned, parts fell off, and that his mission went into the water five hours late due to electrical problems

Speaking to German tabloid Bild, Loibl (pictured in front of the OceanGate sub) recalls that the first submarine they tried didn’t work, that a second attempted dive had to be abandoned, parts fell off, and that his mission went into the water five hours late due to electrical problems

‘It was a suicide mission back then!’ Loibl tells Bild. 

The German knows a thing or two about risk taking, too. He has previously travelled to the north and south pole, and flown over Russia in a MiG-29 fighter jet.

But out of all his adventures, ‘the Titanic was the most extreme,’ he says.

He paid 100,000 euros and booked the trip through an English company that organises special safaris, Bild reports. 

He says the start of the expedition was bumpy. 

‘The first submarine didn’t work, then a dive at 1,600 meters had to be abandoned. My mission was the 5th, but we also went into the water five hours late due to electrical problems,’ he recounts to the publication.

Shortly before the sub was launched, Loibl says the bracket of the stabilisation tube  – used to provide balance as the craft descends into the depths – fell off the vessel.

‘That was reattached with zip ties. That didn’t worry me,’ he tells Bild.

As for conditions inside the vessel, the adventurer says they were challenging.

On his voyage, he was joined by French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet, 73, and OceanGate’s CEO and pilot Stockton Rush, 61. 

Both are currently on the Titan and have been missing since Sunday, along with British adventurer Hamish Harding and Pakistani nationals Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman.

Up to five passengers can be taken on the 22-foot long Titan. There are no seats, a single toilet (with a black curtain pulled across for ‘privacy’). At a depth of around 3,200 feet, sunlight can no longer penetrate the darkness of the ocean.

‘You need strong nerves, you mustn’t be claustrophobic and you have to be able to sit cross-legged for ten hours,’ Loibl says. ‘It must be hell down there. There’s only 2.50 meters of space, it’s four degrees, there’s no chair, no toilet.’

When he did reach the Titanic, however, he described a sense of euphoria. 

With Loibl inside, the Titan travelled around the wreck twice and once even touched down on its deck, he said, before making the return journey.

The German said he is closely following the news of the missing submersible and the search operation – which is rapidly running out of time. 

‘I feel bad, I’m nervous, I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. I was incredibly lucky back then,’ he told Bild. Like many, he is hoping for a miracle.

For his next adventure, Loibl said he had hoped to fly into space with Virgin Galactic for $250,000. But after the ‘drama’ surrounding the missing Titan vessel, he said, ‘my whole pursuit of extremes is now in question’.

Loibl (pictured) knows a thing or two about risk taking, too. He has previously travelled to the north and south pole, and flown over Russia in a MiG-29 fighter jet

Loibl (pictured) knows a thing or two about risk taking, too. He has previously travelled to the north and south pole, and flown over Russia in a MiG-29 fighter jet

Pictured: German explorer Arthur Loibl (second from right) along with two British men. Also pictured are French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet, 73, and OceanGate's CEO and pilot Stockton Rush, 61 , both of whom are currently missing on the Titan

Pictured: German explorer Arthur Loibl (second from right) along with two British men. Also pictured are French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet, 73, and OceanGate’s CEO and pilot Stockton Rush, 61 , both of whom are currently missing on the Titan

German explorer Arthur Loibl (right) is seen with French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet

German explorer Arthur Loibl (right) is seen with French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet

Family and friends of the missing passengers are in for an agonising 24 hours, as experts warn the ‘opportunity to find them alive’ is fading, with oxygen supplies within the submarine thought to be dwindling.

Titan lost communication with tour operators on Sunday while about 435 miles south of St John’s Newfoundland during its voyage off the coast of Canada.

Last night the discovery of loud banging noises sparked fresh hopes that the passengers were still alive and could be banging on the side of the craft to be detected on sonar.

But at 12,500ft below the surface, and with possibly just two vessels on Earth capable of rescuing them, time is running out to find the craft.

Experts have said rescuers searching for the orca-sized submersible are facing a gargantuan task that will test the limits of technical know-how, with only a very slight chance of success.

Teams from around the world are racing against the clock to locate the vessel before its oxygen runs out – with little more than a day’s supply left – as of midday on Wednesday.

But scouring a 20,000-square-kilometer area of the North Atlantic to a depth of more than two miles is not easy.

‘It’s pitch black down there. It’s freezing cold. The seabed is mud, and it’s undulating. You can’t see your hand in front of your face,’ Titanic expert Tim Maltin told NBC News Now. ‘It’s really a bit like being an astronaut going into space.’

US Coast Guard Captain Jamie Frederick told reporters Tuesday that his organization was coordinating the search.

But, he said, it was incredibly difficult and far beyond what the coast guard would normally tackle.

‘While the US Coast Guard has assumed the role of search and rescue mission coordinator, we do not have all of the necessary expertise and equipment required in a search of this nature,’ he said.

‘This is a complex search effort, which requires multiple agencies with subject matter expertise and specialised equipment.’

Frederick added that rescuers were using several methods as they comb the area for the Titan, which lost contact with its mothership just two hours into its dive.

‘The search efforts have focused on both surface with C-130 aircraft searching by sight and with radar, and subsurface with P-3 aircraft, we’re able to drop and monitor sonar buoys.’

So far, the searches have proved fruitless.

The effort was being augmented Tuesday by a huge pipe-laying vessel, which has a remotely operated vehicle expected to be deployed at Titan’s last known position.

Jules Jaffe, who was part of the team that found the Titanic in 1985, said there were two likely explanations for the sub’s disappearance. ‘It’s either a mechanical failure, or an electrical failure,’ he told AFP news agency in La Jolla, California.

‘I’m hoping it’s an electrical failure, because they do have weights, one of the safety procedures that they have is to make themselves lighter. So if you’re heavier than the water, you sink, if you’re lighter than the water you float.’

Jaffe, a research oceanographer at the University of San Diego, said rescuers would be looking on the surface, in the water column and on the seafloor.

‘The worst place for them to be would be on the seafloor, which would imply that the vehicle itself either imploded or got tangled somehow.’

Adding to the challenge is the enormous pressure four kilometers under water, around 400 times what it is on the surface. Such pressures put huge strains on equipment and very few vessels can survive these depths.

Nuclear submarines generally operate at just 300 meters, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Jamie Pringle, a professor of forensic geosciences at Keele University in Britain, said if the mini-sub had settled on the ocean floor, it could be very difficult to spot.

Among those taking part in the expedition is billionaire Hamish Harding (pictured), CEO of Action Aviation in Dubai. He excitedly posted on social media about being there on Sunday

Among those taking part in the expedition is billionaire Hamish Harding (pictured), CEO of Action Aviation in Dubai. He excitedly posted on social media about being there on Sunday

Shahzada Dawood, 48, a board member of the Prince's Trust charity, and his son Suleman Dawood, 19, (pictured together) are on board the missing submarine

Shahzada Dawood, 48, a board member of the Prince’s Trust charity, and his son Suleman Dawood, 19, (pictured together) are on board the missing submarine

French Navy veteran PH Nargeolet is  believed to be taking part in the expedition, though it's unclear if he is onboard the missing sub

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush is also believed to be onboard

French Navy veteran PH Nargeolet (left) is believed to be taking part in the expedition, along with Stockton Rush (right), CEO of the OceanGate Expedition

The Boston Coast Guard is now looking for the missing vessel. The wreckage of the iconic ship sits 12,500ft underwater around 370 miles from Newfoundland, Canada

The Boston Coast Guard is now looking for the missing vessel. The wreckage of the iconic ship sits 12,500ft underwater around 370 miles from Newfoundland, Canada 

‘The bottom of the ocean is not flat; there are lots of hills and canyons,’ Pringle said, according to NBC.

Further complicating the seafloor prognosis is the debris field from the Titanic itself – the very thing the adventurers had gone to see.

‘It’s a mangled wreck, with probably all kinds of treacherous things which would not be very friendly for a small boat,’ said Jaffe.

‘The opportunities for finding them in a mangled wreck within the next 36 hours, I think are practically impossible.’



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