Missing Titanic submersible: Businessman pulled out of expedition over 'risks'

Chris Brown
Chris Brown paid a deposit to join the expedition but later pulled out.

A businessman who was due to travel on the Titanic tourist submarine has told how he changed his mind after he "looked at the risks".

Chris Brown, 61, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, paid a deposit to dive down to see the wreck of the sunken cruise ship on the same submersible as his billionaire friend Hamish Harding.

But he later decided not to make the trip and asked for a refund.

The digital marketing boss said: "I looked at the risks that were involved and decided against it.

"But that's not really the thing we should be looking at right now – there's still five people trapped underneath the ocean, we should be thinking about them, rescuing them and sending our feelings towards their friends and family."

  • Chris Brown speaks to ITV News

Operated by OceanGate, the vessel, named Titan, has five people on board, including 58-year-old Mr Harding and a British-Pakistani father and son.

The trip, which is thought to cost £195,000 per person, launched at 4am on Sunday. Contact was lost during the two-hour descent to the Titanic wreck site, which sits about 3,800m (12,500ft) below sea level at the bottom of the ocean, around 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland but in US waters.

Mr Brown said those on board would be well aware of the risks. He said accidents were inevitable in any form of exploration.

"I think most explorers assess the risks before deciding to go on an expedition," he said.

Billionaire Hamish Harding was one of five people on board Titan. Credit: Dirty Dozen Productions/PA

"It's been quite a few years they've been planning this expedition, they will have looked at the risks and decided those were risks they wanted to take. I think we're all aware of the risks.

"I think that it's inevitable that accidents will happen in whatever form of exploration we do, exploration is in the human psyche and particularly it seems to be Brits that are very good at going out into the world and exploring.

"Every now and then something is going to go wrong, there's going to be accidents, there's accidents in the regular world as well but exploration tends to push those risks to the limit."

Sonar technology has picked up "banging sounds" from underneath the water, according to an internal US government memo.

Rescuers searching for the submersible estimated there was only "40 hours of breathable air" left on board on Tuesday - enough to last until Thursday morning.

Mr Brown said he had faith that Mr Harding would be keeping morale high.

"Knowing Hamish he will be extremely calm, he's well aware of risks in the exploration space, he's probably going through logically all the ways they can help themselves whilst making it as easy as possible to be found

"He's got the perfect personality for such a situation, he's a very calming individual, a logical thinker. It wouldn't surprise me if he wasn't behind the 30-minute banging to let people know that there's humans trapped down there.

"He'll be a calming influence on the other people on the vessel and am sure he'll be doing everything he can to eke out that oxygen and keep morale and spirits up."

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