Who is Larry Connor? Ohio billionaire planning to use a Triton Submarine to visit the Titanic

AN AMBITIOUS billionaire is on a mission to prove deep sea voyages to the Titanic are possible and safe with a new underwater vehicle.

The dangers of venturing to the famous shipwreck were in June 2023 laid bare when the Titan submersible built by OceanGate imploded, killing five – but Larry Connor hasn’t been deterred.

Instead, the Ohio real estate investor wants to show how “wonderful” and “enjoyable” deep sea exploration can be “if you go about, it the right way”.

Who is Larry Connor?

Larry, 74, is a billionaire real estate and technology businessman – and a NASA-certified private astronaut.

He was born in Albany, New York, in 1950, going on to launch a career as an entrepreneur.

He owned a hardware and software computer company by 1982, expanding into real estate 10 years later in a joint venture with two partners, calling it Connor, Murphy and Buhrman.

But by 2003 he bought both partners out, and it was established as simply the Connor Group.

The business boomed, with assets valued at $100 million ballooning to $4 billion over the next two decades.

Larry took on more philanthropic positions as he made his fortune, including at a hospital, helping fund a university stadium and donating money to employees with lower salaries during the pandemic.

Outside of his career, Larry is a car-race enthusiast, founding teams and having driven himself to victory in national racing events.

Seemingly unsatisfied with these heights, Larry decided to send himself beyond the stratosphere as a private astronaut on Axiom Mission 1 to the International Space Station.

It was the first totally private mission to the ISS.

Inside the TRITON sub that will return to the Titanic wreck despite billionaire deaths

Larry, then 72, was the second-oldest person to ever enter orbit behind John Glenn, who was in space at 77.

Now, perhaps finally content he’d reached all the heights he possibly could, Larry has shifted his attention to very low depths.

It was this week announced that Larry will take to the site of the Titanic in a $20 million submersible – an underwater vehicle designed for exploration.

Dubbed the Triton 4000/2 Abyssal Explorer, the brave ploy also intends to prove trips to the Titanic are safe and possible.

A date is yet to be specified.

What are Triton Submarines?

Triton claims to be the 'world's finest

Triton began building submersibles in 2008 and claims on its website that it produces the “world’s finest”.

The vehicles have been used by scientists, deep sea explorers and Sir David Attenborough.

Each submersible must meet a criterion of exceptional visibility, experience, dependability, simplicity and be ticked off by a third party to hit the seas, the company says.

Triton claims records such as the deepest-ever drive – 10,928 metres in 2019 – first to film a giant squid, first to record the Titanic in 4K, first under-the-sea live news broadcast and first marriage at 1000 metres below.

The sub planned to be used by Larry is the $20m 4000/2 abyssal explorer.

Larry plans to voyage to the famous shipwreck in the high-tech Triton 4000/2

As the name suggests, it has a 4000-metre depth rating and is equipped with wings that retract for descent and ascent.

Once at depth, the wings allow for gliding through the ocean and powering up from the seabed, the website says.

Larry will join Triton co-founder and chief executive Patrick Lahey for the journey.

Larry told the Wall Street Journal: “Patrick has been thinking about and designing this for over a decade, but we didn’t have the materials and technology.

“You couldn’t have built this sub five years ago.”

What happened to OceanGate’s Titan submersible?

OceanGate's Titanic venture last year ended in catastrophy

OceanGate’s five-person Titan sub was claimed to have been designed in collaboration with NASA, Boeing and the University of Washington.

OceanGate ran multiple dives, or “missions” to the Titanic wreck between 2021 and 2022 – but a trip in 2023 proved disastrous.

On June 18, the Titan failed to resurface at its scheduled time.

Debris was later discovered and through sonar detection authorities concluded the vessel had imploded in the North Atlantic Ocean, killing all five of its explorers.

NASA, Boeing and the University of Washington all asserted they in fact had no involvement in the design, construction or testing of the sub.

The Titan wasn’t subject to strict safety testing because it operated in international waters.

The five to die that day were: OceanGate’s American chief executive Stockton Rush, French deep sea explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet, British businessman Hamish Harding, Pakistani-British businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman.

OceanGate’s website is now limited to a black page with only its logo and a short message printed.

It says: “OceanGate Expeditions has suspended all exploration and commercial operations.”

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