David Bright, 49; Studied the Oceans, Explored Shipwrecks

From the Associated Press

David Bright, a leading researcher into underwater exploration and shipwrecks, has died after diving to the site of the Andrea Doria off Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, where he was working in preparation for the wreck’s 50th anniversary. He was 49.

Bright, of Flemington, N.J., surfaced from a dive late Saturday with decompression sickness and went into cardiac arrest, according to the Coast Guard. He was pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital a short time later.

His wife of 23 years, Elaine Bright, said that the circumstances that led to his death were not immediately clear and that the family was awaiting an autopsy report.

Bright was an experienced historian and technical diver who had explored the Titanic, Andrea Doria and other shipwrecks often -- 120 times just for the Andrea Doria.


The Andrea Doria was headed from Genoa, Italy, to New York when it collided with the Swedish ship Stockholm on July 25, 1956, killing about 50 people. The Italian luxury liner lies at the bottom of the Atlantic in 200 feet of water, about 50 miles southeast of Nantucket.

Because of its depth, it is considered a supreme test of scuba diving.

Bright’s research into the Titanic, Andrea Doria and other sites has been part of dozens of documentaries, and he lectured often on ship exploration.

He had an extensive personal collection of artifacts and established the Andrea Doria Museum Project, based at the Nantucket Lifesaving Museum, which lends artifacts to museums.


He owned two Andrea Doria lifeboats, including one on his property in New Jersey, his wife said. He was the founder of the Andrea Doria Survivor Reunions Committee.

Bright started the Nautical Research Group about four years ago after his retirement from Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, where he worked for 12 years as a research scientist, his wife said.

He had a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in physiology from Pennsylvania State University.

He also spent two years working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the exploration of the wreck of the Civil War ironclad Monitor.


Elaine Bright said memorial services were planned in Flemington, N.J., and in Bright’s hometown near Niagara Falls, N.Y. He also is survived by three children, his mother and two brothers.