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READ IT: The Last Text Message Sent By Billionaire Aboard Missing Titanic Sub

Retired NASA astronaut Colonel Terry Virts revealed the last text sent to him by his friend Hamish Harding — a British billionaire and a renowned world explorer in his own right — just one day before his submarine vanished en route to the undersea wreckage of the R.M.S. Titanic.

Harding, who is one of five people aboard the missing submarine, told Virts on Sunday that the weather off the coast of Newfoundland had been bad enough in recent days that sea travel would not have been possible — but he said that things were looking up.

“Hey, we’re headed out tomorrow, it looks good, the weather’s been bad so they’ve been waiting for this,” Harding told his friend via text message on Sunday.

Harding, chairman of the Dubai-based Action Aviation, had shared the news that he was joining the mission via Instagram.

“I am proud to finally announce that I joined @oceangateexped for their RMS TITANIC Mission as a mission specialist on the sub going down to the Titanic,” Harding wrote. “Due to the worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years, this mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023.”

“A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow. We started steaming from St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada yesterday and are planning to start dive operations around 4am tomorrow morning. Until then we have a lot of preparations and briefings to do,” Harding continued. “The team on the sub has a couple of legendary explorers, some of which have done over 30 dives to the RMS Titanic since the 1980s including PH Nargeolet. More expedition updates to follow IF the weather holds!”

But just under two hours after the OceanGate Expeditions-operated submersible launched, it lost contact with the Polar Prince on the surface.

Virts told ITV’s “Good Morning” that while his friend certainly understood the potential risks of such a mission, the risks were not something that he often chose to discuss.

“He understood the risks for sure, there’s no doubt about that,” Virts said. “He went down to the deepest part of the ocean, set a few world records … at the Mariana Trench [the deepest part of the ocean] and we talked quite a bit about the risks and the different things that they were going to be able to do. So he was very excited about it.”

Teams from the United States Coast Guard, Canadian Coast Guard, and the Canadian Armed Forces are searching an area the size of the state of Connecticut — over 5500 square miles — for the submersible. Officials revealed on Tuesday that those onboard the vessel may have less than 40 hours of breathable air left.

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