Man Found Alive Inside Sunken Ship After Three Days, See Harrowing Footage

A man named Harrison Okene was found alive in a shipwreck after three days, which shocked rescuers.

By Jessica Scott | Published

harrison okene shipwreck

Harrison Okene is one lucky guy. May 23, 2023, marks the 10-year anniversary of the day the then-29-year-old was found alive after a shipwreck that killed all others on board the vessel. According to Newsweek, he had been trapped in the freezing water of the submerged ship for 60 hours before his dramatic rescue was caught on camera. 

“It was very unexpected and a total shock to find someone alive after the vessel sank days before,” said Nico van Heerden, the diver who can be seen finding Harrison Okene as he swam through the shipwreck in the video above. After seeing several of Okene’s shipmates had not survived the shipwreck, van Heerden was not expecting to find anyone left alive. “Before we found him, we found and recovered the bodies of three of his colleagues that perished during the incident,” he said.

“Vessels do sink and people die,” he went on, “but to find someone alive after so long does not happen. I’ve never heard of it happening before.” Perhaps this is why viewers can so clearly hear the surprise in his voice when Harrison Okene’s hand reaches out from a dark corner of the wreckage and touches his.

The moment is both terrifying and magical, and Harrison Okene is understandably overcome as the camera moves to show him in an air pocket inside of a bathroom in the officer’s cabins, where he had been trapped in complete darkness, 100 feet below the surface, for almost three full days after the shipwreck. 


Harrison Okene was the cook on Jascon-4, a small tugboat that had been on its way to meet an oil tanker near Nigeria. Everything had seemingly been going fine when suddenly a large wave overturned the boat. “Before we knew, we were sinking,” said the shipwreck’s sole survivor.

The ship began to fill with water and Harrison Okene began desperately running through the ship to try to find a way out, but the doors were all locked. This was a preventative measure taken to keep pirates from entering the ship, but it proved to be more of a hindrance than a help during an impending shipwreck. 

Harrison Okene became trapped in the bathroom area as the water filled the ship. Miraculously, a pocket of air remained in the room, so that he could breathe as the shipwreck sank to the bottom of the sea. Fighting hypothermia in the freezing water as well as the fear for himself and his family that consumed him, he somehow found the strength to survive for nearly three days in nothing but his underwear.

According to experts, the temperature of water at that depth can kill a person within hours. Harrison Okene’s ability to lift himself up out of the water periodically may be the reason he was able to survive the shipwreck.

If Harrison Okene had remained in the shipwreck for just another couple of hours, though, even that wouldn’t have been enough to save him. “Contrary to popular belief, when people are trapped in confined spaces it is not the oxygen running out that will kill you. It is your own exhaled breath causing a buildup of CO2,” said Alex Gibb, a life support technician who was on the scene that day. By the time Harrison Okene was discovered, the levels of carbon dioxide were already at toxic levels. 

Amazingly, though, Harrison Okene lived to tell his harrowing tale – and actually went on to become a commercial air diver who often dives up to 164 feet for a living. Despite being trapped in the shipwreck, he doesn’t fear the water. In fact, he says that “I believe the ocean is my world. I feel more comfortable, relaxed there.” 

Move over, Aquaman, there’s a new hero in the sea.