Shipwrecks: Cleaning Up from the Past

By Greg Trauthwein
Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Marine salvage and subsea industry leaders gathered today on the MITAGS campus in Linthicum Heights, Md., to discuss the environmental, legal, financial and moral ramifications of the discovery and recovery of marine casualties, new and old, around the globe.

Dubbed “Wrecks of the World: Hidden Risks of the Deep,” the conference -- which was sponsored by a long list of marine industry organizations including the American Salvage Association, the Marine Technology Society, NAMEPA and the International Salvage Association, among others – focused on a number of critical issues surrounding the discovery and mitigation of potential brewing ecological disasters.

According to research by Dagmar Schmidt Etkin, PH.D., of Environmental Research Consulting (Cortlandt Manor, NY), there are approximately 8,500 identified large shipwrecks found in the world’s oceans, representing between two and 15 million tons of oil and other hazardous materials. Of this 8,500, nearly 75% of the total, or 6,338, are World War II era wrecks, a total encompassing 1,065 tankers, 3,887 cargo ships and 1,416 military ships.

“This is a very complex issue, and we need a rational approach, from the technical to the legal to the finance, in educating the people regarding the importance of this issue. As part of the proactive approach, we need to step back and look at each of these 8500 vessels, and using the tools we have on risk assessment, for example, and triage these vessels for prioritization. Perhaps a small percentage are ones that will require a closer second look.”

The panels of experts from government, industry and academia equally agreed that while no two wrecks are alike, there are a common set of factors: water depth, local weather patterns, amount and types of hazardous materials found onboard, overall threat of environmental impact, and legal/political issues such as the handling of a vessel and human remains that may be deemed a “war grave”; that must be considered before considering action.

An interesting model for emulation could be the Norwegian one, as explained by Hans Petter Mortensholm, project manager U864, Norwegian Central Administration. Mortensholm explained that Norway identified 2300 shipwrecks around Norway, and classified the wrecks as High Risk (30); Moderate Risk (350); and Low Risk (1700), in terms of their potential impact on the environment and navigation. It was decided to intensively study the High Risk ships via ROV, and in 2006 the government decided to remove oil from five wrecks that it considers an imminent threat.

” I’d like to see the U.S. get squared away the way Norway is squared away,” said Dr. William Conner, Chief, Hazmat Emergency Response Division, NOAA OR&R.


Maritime Reporter September 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds


Servowatch IPMS Completes FATs for UK Navy

The fully integrated platform management system Servowatch designed and built for three new offshore patrol vessels for the U.K. Royal Navy has completed BAE Systems’ Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT).

Sea Truck's DP3 Construction Ship Passes Sea Trials

Sea Trucks has completed sea trials of the DP3 offshore construction vessel Jascon 18 in Singapore. Jascon 18 features a 1,800-metric-ton crane, 1,800 sq m deck and a 750-metric-ton pipelay system.

ClassNK Begins Testing CBM System

ClassNK has commenced verification tests of its next-generation condition-based monitoring (CBM) system ClassNK CMAXS e-GICSX for Mitsui’s MAN B&W engines. The


Chiarello: TOTE Continues Support to El Faro Families

Anthony Chiarello, President & CEO of TOTE, owner of the cargo ship presumed to have sunk with 33 mariners aboard last week amid Hurricane Joaquin, issued a statement

White House Backs El Faro Investigation

President Barack Obama on Wednesday offered condolences to the families of the 33 sailors presumed to have lost their lives aboard cargo ship El Faro which is believed

Oil Spill Statfjord North Sea Field - Statoil

Loading of tankers suspended, unclear when it will resume. Oil spilled into the North Sea during the loading of a tanker at Norway's Statfjord field on Thursday, operator Statoil said.


New Orleans Port to Host Maritime Workforce Summit

The Port of New Orleans is set to host the 2nd Annual Maritime Workforce Summit and Career Expo presented by WWL-TV’s ‘We Choose Louisiana.”   Designed to

Towering Damen Marine Components Hits 150‏

Damen Marine Components (DMC), the oldest company in Damen Shipyards Group, celebrates its 150th anniversary today. DMC has grown from a very small shipyard established in Gorinchem in 1865,

Smith Taken on Rolls-Royce Holdings Board

Rolls-Royce Holdings plc today announces the appointment of Sir Kevin Smith CBE as a Non-Executive Director.  Sir Kevin will join the Board with effect from

Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Offshore Oil Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2360 sec (4 req/sec)