North Sea Wrecks Symposium: investigating the legacy of war

North Sea Wrecks Symposium: investigating the legacy of war

The German Maritime Museum and the Alfred Wegener Institute will host a two-day conference in April 2023 to address the issue of underwater munitions as an environmental hazard. The conference will take place at the German Maritime Museum in Bremerhaven, Germany, and will include keynote speeches, scientific workshops and a round-table discussion on transnational efforts to address the problem of underwater munitions.

The conference will begin on Wednesday 19 April with a keynote speech by Guilherme Lotufo from the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center. Lotufo will speak about the environmental hazards posed by underwater munitions. This will be followed by a keynote speech from Jacek Bełdowski from the Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, who will discuss a decade of chemical munitions studies in the Baltic Sea and new perspectives.

On Thursday 20 April, the conference will continue with scientific workshops addressing three main topics: alterations of wrecks on the seafloor, effects on organisms, and consequences and dealing with disaster. Each workshop will include presentations from experts in the field, with time for discussion and questions.

The symposium will conclude with a keynote speech by Alex Souchen from the University of Guelph, Canada, who will discuss what history can tell us about underwater munitions. The conference will end with a final plenary discussion on how to communicate environmental problems and research.

Connecting fields of knowledge

In addition to the keynote speeches and scientific workshops, the conference will include an exhibition space showcasing various tools and resources related to the study of underwater munitions, including the Wreck Risk Assessment Tool, a data repository/UXO warehouse, and travelling exhibitions on the toxic legacies of war and the North Sea wrecks.

The round-table discussion on transnational efforts to address the problem of underwater munitions will feature representatives from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, the UK Ministry of Defence, the German Environment Agency and the Flanders Heritage Agency. The discussion will be moderated by Jens Sternheim from the NSW Advisory Board.

The conference aims to bring together experts from a variety of fields to share their knowledge and ideas, and to foster collaboration and cooperation in the study and management of underwater munitions.

More information on the programme can be found here.

Munitions objects in the German dump site Kolberger Heide in the Baltic Sea.
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