Research projects


North Sea Wrecks - a European research project

Where are the wrecks and ammunition in the North Sea? What dangers do they pose to people and the environment? What is the story behind them? We want to answer these questions.

Hundreds of ship and aircraft wrecks lie at the bottom of the North Sea, not least because of the two world wars. In addition, there are thousands of tonnes of conventional and chemical munitions dumped on the high seas or near the coast. The wrecks themselves, their cargoes and fuel tanks as well as the ammunition are both obstacles to shipping and sources of toxic substances as well as explosive objects. They therefore pose a threat to people and the environment, but also to so-called Blue Growth Operations, such as commercial and private shipping, tourism, aquaculture and the off-shore wind farms.

Where exactly do these dangers lurk? What effects on the environment have already been observed and what is the potential danger that the war legacies will pose to the flora and fauna of the North Sea in the future? We want to answer these and other questions together with scientists from almost all countries bordering the North Sea.

The problems of dumped ammunition, war wrecks and the resulting environmental pollution in the North Sea will be scientifically researched as well as politically and historically processed. To this end, we are working together across borders and on an interdisciplinary basis.

The North Sea Wrecks Project

Website of the North Sea Wrecks project

Dr. Sven Bergmann

0049 / 0471  48 207 19

Dr. Philipp Grassel

0049 / 0471  48 207 15

An exhibition will bring the history and dangers of wrecks closer


Future research results should allow for a concrete risk assessment of specific marine areas. This assessment can be used for regional, national and international environmental and economic policy issues. However, we also want to use the research results to support an awareness campaign. With the help of this campaign, the topic is to be anchored in society and politics and put on the agenda of political decision-makers.

To this end, a touring exhibition is being developed under the leadership of the DSM. The exhibition will be shown in several European cities. With this exhibition we want to bring the results of research as well as the topic of wrecks and ammunition remnants in the sea to the public. The travelling exhibition will then be integrated into the future semi-permanent exhibition at the DSM in Bremerhaven. Our aim is to provide a sustainable and long-lasting presence for the topic of decaying war wrecks and decomposing ammunition in the sea.

The EU funds the research project

The "North Sea Wrecks" project has a budget of over 4 million euros and is supported by the EU through the Interreg programme. We coordinate it from Bremerhaven and enable a close cooperation of about 30 European project partners on several levels over a total period of 4 years.

DSM team:

Prof. Dr. Sunhild Kleingärtner (Project management)

Dr. Philipp Grassel (contact person and research assistant)

Dr. Sven Bergmann (contact person and project coordinator)


Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (Germany), Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (Belgium), Aarhus University - Department of Geoscience (Denmark), Stichting NHL Stenden Hogeschool - Maritiem Instituut Willem Barentsz (The Netherlands), EGEOS GmbH (Germany), Periplus Consultancy BV (Netherlands), Forsvarets Forskningsinstitutt (Norway) and University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein - Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology (Germany).

Advisory Board:

MELUND Kiel (D); OSPAR London (international); EMODnet - Human Activities (European); DAIMON BSR Project (PL, Baltic Sea Region); Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (D); Norwegian Coastal Administration (N); Ministry of Environment and Food (DK); Rijswaterstaat, Sea and Delta (NL); Flanders Heritage Agency (B); Västra Götaland, Regional Coordination Marine Spacial Plan (S); Swedish Defense Research Agency (S); Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Agency for Cultural Heritage (NL); Antwerp Maritime Academy (BEL); Province of West-Flanders (BEL).


University of Southampton (UK); Bremerhaven City Council (D); Ministry of Defense (UK)


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Opening hours

currently closed

how to reach us

Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum
Hans-Scharoun-Platz 1
D-27568 Bremerhaven


T. +49 471 482 07 0

Contact person


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