Nargeolet was married to former New York news anchor Michele Marsh, but his wife died of breast cancer in 2017 at age 63, according to her obituary in The New York Times. Daily Mail reported that Nargeolet was remarried and leaves behind current wife Anne Sarraz-Bournet.
The Coast Guard and OceanGate now believe Nargeolet and the other four men died when the submersible faced catastrophic failure. “We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost,” the company said in a statement to CNN.
Rear Admiral John Mauger said in a news conference on June 22, 2023, that a remote-operated vehicle discovered the tail cone of the Titan lying 1,600 feet from the bow of the Titanic on the sea floor. “The degree is consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber,” Mauger said.
According to his biography on the website of EM group, Nargeolet is “widely considered the leading authority” on the Titanic shipwreck. OceanGate’s website describes Nargeolet as “PH Nargeolet,” a “renowned Titanic expert, having led six expeditions to the Titanic wreck site and lectured at numerous Titanic exhibitions around the world. He’s known as ‘Titanic’s Greatest Explorer.'”
He is also called Paul Henry Nargeolet, but he uses Paul-Henri Nargeolet on his Facebook page.
British aviation executive Hamish Harding is also on the submarine, his family and company confirmed. In addition to Nargeolet and Harding, Sky News reported that OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush is on board the submersible. According to CNN, Shahzada Dawood, who comes from a prominent Pakistani business family, and his son, Sulaiman Dawood, are the final two passengers. Authorities have yet to confirm the names of anyone on the sub.
On LinkedIn, Nargeolet gives his location as Kent, Connecticut, and his title as “Director of Underwater Research Program at Premier Exhibitions, RMS Titanic, Inc.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. PH Nargeolet Was Remembered for His Love of Family & the Titanic
John Paschall, the stepson of Michele Marsh, told CBS News that Nargeolet was a family man who leaves behind three other children.
“We focus so much on everything he did in the water, but I feel like some of his greatest accomplishments, too, were out of the water,” Paschall said to the network. “I understand that in life it is sometimes not easy to be a stepfather, when you are coming into a situation where my father was still in the picture and I had a great relationship with him, but he was always so respectful of my relationship with him and he was such an important part of my life.
“Yeah, I think in my own opinion his home away from home was the ocean. He just felt so comfortable there,” Paschall said to CBS. “I know so much of the focus of this discussion is about risk, and I felt he just accepted the risk and knew what it was, but he loved what he did.
The Titanic meant so much to him, every artifact he brought up, whether it was small or it was large, meant so much to him. And the ones he was able to share with family was incredible. He was just an amazing man in what he was able to do, and, yes, being in the Titanic, in that area, in his final moments, while it’s so raw and fresh that we’re dealing with it, I think it means a lot that he spent his final moments near a scene in the world that meant so much to him.
The U.S. Coast Guard said in a press release, “The Coast Guard is searching for five persons after the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince lost contact with their submersible during a dive, approximately 900 miles east of Cape Cod, Sunday morning.”
“A Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, C-130 Hercules aircraft, as well as a Canadian P8 aircraft equipped with underwater sonar capability, are currently searching for the missing submersible,” the release said. That search ended with the discovery of a debris field and the announcement that the men are dead.
Bill Willard, a physics instructor, wrote on Facebook, “Thank you for the links, tags, messages, calls, emails and more letting me know about the Titan, the submersible missing from a dive to Titanic. On board is a personal friend, PH Nargeolet, and 4 others.”
There is, per the specs of the Titan, 96 hours of life support available in case of emergency. As of now, about 30 of those are expended. For some reason, the Titan was not able to ‘blow ballast’ – drop the weights making it sink – so it could rise to the surface. I do not know the specs of the Titan, so all of this is speculation from me.
All of my Titanic friends share this concern: that we pray for those on board, and there is a successful recovery. PH Nargeolet, is one of the most professional, special friends I have met in my lifetime of Titanic work. There are few like him.
2. Paul Henri Nargeolet Is a Ship Captain & Sub Pilot for the French Navy
According to his LinkedIn page, Nargeolet has been Director of the Underwater Research Program for Premier Exhibitions, RMS Titanic, for more than 16 years.
Before that, he was director of companies called CMURM, Aqua+, and DESM, Deep Diving Equipment. According to its website, “The Center for Maritime & Underwater Resource Management (CMURM) (pronounced: sea-merm) was organized in 1994 as an applied research and outreach unit of the Department of Park, Recreation and Tourism Resources at Michigan State University.”
He has worked as a self-employed consultant based in Greenwich, Connecticut and in Toulon, France, according to his LinkedIn page.
Nargeolet is a former commander, sub pilot, ship captain, clearance diver and deep diver for the Marine Nationale, the French Navy, where he served for more than 21 years, from 1964 through 1986, his LinkedIn page says.
3. PH Nargeolet Supervised the Recovery of 5,000 Artifacts From the Titanic
According to EM Group, “P.H. serves as the Director of Underwater Research for E/M Group and RMS Titanic, Inc. and has an impressive and tenured history with Titanic.”
The company’s website says Nargeolet is “widely considered the leading authority on the wreck site, P.H. has led several expeditions to Titanic, completed 35 dives in the submersible himself, and supervised the recovery of 5,000 artifacts, including the recovery of the ‘big piece’ a 20-ton section of Titanic’s hull (now on display in Las Vegas).”
According to the site, in 2010, “P.H. served as the expedition leader on the most technologically advanced dive to Titanic spearheading the first comprehensive survey map of the Ship, including imaging the bow and stern sections and her entire artifact debris field in high-resolution sonar and 3D optical imagery.”
EM Group’s about us page describes it as “Experiential Media Group,” a “recognized leader in creating and touring world-class exhibitions that utilize themed settings, theatrical innovations, and state-of-the-art media.”
4. Paul Henri Nargeolet Was Born in Chamonix, France & Lived in Africa for 13 Years
According to EM Group, Nargeolet was born in Chamonix, France.
He “lived in Africa for 13 years with his family and at 16 returned to France to complete his studies in Paris,” his biography on the site says.
“He later joined the French Navy for a career that spanned 22 years and saw him rise in the ranks to Commander. In 1986, P.H. retired from the Navy and joined the French Institute for Research and Exploitation of Sea (IFREMER) in charge of the deep submersibles Nautile and Cyana. While at IFREMER, P.H. led the first recovery expedition to the Titanic in 1987,” the site says.
5. PH Nargeolet & the Others Were on a Submersible Known as ‘Titan’
OceanGate Expeditions deleted its web page on the Titanic expedition, but it is still visible on the Wayback Machine.
“Intrepid travelers will sail from the Atlantic coast of Canada for an 8-day expedition to dive on the iconic wreck that lies 380 miles offshore and 3,800 meters below the surface. You dive will provide not only a thrilling and unique travel experience, but also help the scientific community learn more about the wreck and the deep ocean environment. Every dive also has a scientific objective,” it read.
The page says the vessel is Titan, OceanGate’s “five-person submersible.”
“Soon you will arrive at depth, and after some navigating across the seafloor and debris field, finally see what you’ve been waiting for: the RMS Titanic,” the page explains. “The content expert onboard will point out key features, be they of the wreck itself or the life that calls this corner of the ocean home. Enjoy hours of exploring the wreck and debris field before making the two-hour ascent to the surface.”