The daughter of an explorer nicknamed Mr Titanic and believed to have died on the Titan submersible says she is taking comfort from the fact he was in the place he loved most.
Speaking just before news broke that debris from the vessel had been found on the ocean floor, Sidonie Nargeolet, 39, insisted she was still hoping for the safe return of her 77-year-old father Paul-Henri Nargeolet.
But she added: “If they are not found, it will be very sad for us because we will not see him again. What he liked the most was to be in a submarine, (near) the Titanic.
“He is where he really loved being. I would prefer him (dying) at a place where he is very happy.
“So whether he’s in a submarine and whether he’s in the Titanic, I know he likes it. I hope there will be a good outcome, that they will find him.
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“In any case … he is happy where he is… That’s reassuring.”
Sidonie added that her father had been “very passionate” about the Titanic since the wreck was located 30 years ago.
His colleagues have described him as a leading expert on the Titanic with more than 35 dives to the wreck under his belt after a two-decade career in the French navy.
Sidonie said she learned about the accident on Monday, when she received a text message from her father’s spouse saying he should have been back at 6pm on Sunday.
“He sent me a message a week before (getting in the submersible) telling me the weather was bad, so they hadn’t been able to go down, but that there was a great atmosphere,” she said.
“I sent him a message on Sunday for Father’s Day but he didn’t reply.”
Nargeolet, born in Chamonix, France, was the first person to bring up an object – a silver plate – from the Titanic in 1987.
Since then, he had led several expeditions to the sunken ocean liner off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, and supervised the recovery of thousands of artefacts – including a 20-ton section of the Titanic’s hull.
“He is the world specialist on the Titanic, its conception, the shipwreck, he has dived in four corners of the world – he is a super-hero for us in France,” said Mathieu Johann, his editor at Harper Collins.