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It is the contextual goal of the "The sea makes science: German research ships in the 20th century" scientific historic project to map out the various interests and considerations that have shaped the financing and concept of German research ships and the research programmes of the scientists on board them throughout the course of the 20th century.
In this, the focus is on the Cold War era. Due to the level of international awareness of the research ships as well as German partition after the Second World War, the history of German research ships represents a particularly fruitful historical case study for determining the various factors that played a role in the conception and use of research ships. In this way, the continuation of existing traditions from the pre-war era under various political and financial framework conditions in West and East Germany can be comprehended. For example, in Germany in particular, the social embedding of the military also characterised public debate on maritime research and/or its political relevance.
So far, the METEOR I research ship of the German Atlantic Expedition 1925-1927, the METEOR II research ship, which was completed in 1964, and the POLARSTERN ice-breaker research and supply ship, which was put into service in 1982, form the most important case studies. Aside from these, the focus is on the research ships of the GDR, for example the PROFESSOR ALBRECHT PENCK.
In the new installation on marine research at the German Maritime Museum in Bremerhaven, visitors can learn more about marine and polar research. The German research ice-breaker POLARSTERN serves as a model.
We study the significance of shipping for the collection of data and the generation of knowledge. After all, without ships, there would be a lot we wouldn't know about the Earth.