Ulster man who was Titanic expert dies

David Livingstone, the Last Chief Naval Architect of Harland and Wolff
David Livingstone, the Last Chief Naval Architect of Harland and Wolff

The first man from the island of Ireland to visit the Titanic wreck on the sea floor has died at the age of 73.

David Livingstone, the last chief naval architect of Harland and Wolff, was remembered at a service at St Mark’s Church of Ireland in Newtownards on Monday. He died last Thursday.

The Armagh man had been a global expert on Titanic.

Mr Livingstone came from Milford and was educated at Royal School Armagh from where he left to join the shipyard as an apprentice in the drawing office in the 1960s.

By the mid-1990s he was recognised as a world authority on various aspects of shipping design.

In 1996 the Discovery TV channel invited him to dive down to the Titanic.

Thus Mr Livingstone became the first person from the island of Ireland to make the two-and-a-half-hour journey to the wreck in a special submersible.

When he gazed at Titanic through a small porthole, he reported to the mother ship: “The stern is a terrible mess, but the bow is still a very beautiful structure.”

But Mr Livingstone and two others with him nearly came to grief 12,500ft down.

Their submersible entered Titanic’s exposed engine room but a water current prevented them from leaving.

They eventually escaped using the submersible’s mechanical arms.

Rory Golden, the Dublin diver who visited the wreck later on two occasions, said of Mr Livingstone: “He was always a gentleman. His knowledge of ships and shipbuilding was enormous.

“When we dived in 2005, we placed a commemorative plaque from Harland & Wolff.

“For me, something of the spirit of David now lies on the Titanic.”

Mr Livingstone was a member of the trust which restored the SS Nomadic, a tender to the Titanic.

His wife, Helen, died three years ago and he is survived by his daughter Jill, a teacher and his son Andrew, a dentist.