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 June 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Technology

There’s Still Time for SHIPPINGInsight Award Entries

Entry submissions for the first SHIPPINGInsight Award are due Friday, Aug. 1, but organizers said they will continue to accept nominations through following week to provide some extra time.

Joint Project Studies Condition-based Engine Monitoring

Classification society ClassNK announced that it will participate in a joint project together with Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. and MES Technoservice Co.

Resolve Maritime Academy's New Wet Trainer Facility

Resolve Maritime Academy informed it has started building a new, two-story wet trainer, larger and more expansive than its original, the L/V Gray Manatee. “We

Casualties

Pumps Reach Sinking Shrimper Just in Time

A commercial fishing vessel from Brownsville is slowly making its way back to port, thanks to some quick actions by its crew and Coast Guard units, informs the US Coastguard,

Company Fined for Oil Spill Near Anacortes

Ecology issues $112,500 penalty for sunken vessel.   American Gold Seafoods faces a $112,500 penalty for an oil spill caused by the accidental sinking of its vessel,

Grounded Freighter Refloated in Lake St. Clair

The Federal Rideau, a 656-foot freighter that had been hard aground in the downbound shipping channel of Lake St. Clair since early Sunday morning, was refloated

History

Maritime Reporter @ 75: The Daily Cartoon

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News was founded by John J. O'Malley (1905-1980) in 1939, and today ranks as the world's largest audited trade publication in the world serving the maritime industry,

Today in U.S. Naval History: July 30

Today in U.S. Naval History - July 30 1918 - Units of First Marine Aviation Force arrive at Brest, France 1941 - Japanese aircraft bomb USS Tutuila (PR-4) at Chungking,

Family Finds Sunken Treasure Off Florida Coast

A Florida family scavenging for sunken treasure on a shipwreck has found the missing piece of a 300-year-old gold filigree necklace sacred to Spanish priests, officials said on Tuesday.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | 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: 0.1013 sec (10 req/sec)