This witness seminar event drew upon the knowledge and experience of a panel of experts to reflect upon and discuss issues around the protection of military remains where they take the form of shipwrecked material and aircraft lost in conflict.
The subject matter is of contemporary research interest given the fact that modern salvage technologies are enabling the unregulated and in some cases illegal recovery of materials from these sites. HMS Exeter is literally a wreck that ‘disappeared’ as a result of salvage undertaken in the Java Sea and the vessels of a number of states’ navies have suffered similar fates. Such interventions are sensitive given that the sites are the resting places of fallen military and other personnel, and have a specific status in law. Alongside the more visible loss of cultural property and potential disturbance of remains there is often an environmental damage component – appreciating the potential costs and social impacts of polluting incidents also factor into the appreciation of the issues involved in wreck disturbance.
The topic draws together current research interests and expertise in law, conflict history and maritime archaeology as well as environmental and cultural sustainability. Our panel brought considerable expertise and insight and comprised:
- Vice Admiral Sir Anthony Dymock – Trustee, Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust
- Mr Michael Williams – Visiting Research Fellow, School of Law, Criminology and Government, University of Plymouth
- Mr Dave Parham – Associate Professor in Maritime Archaeology, University of Bournemouth
- Dr Harry Bennett – Associate Professor in History, University of Plymouth
Plymouth’s clear links to the military (HMS Exeter for example was Devonport constructed and based) and the future redevelopment of the city’s Royal Naval Heritage Centre provided a timely backdrop to frame the event. It was hoped that the seminar would promote networks, conversations and interest in issues such as site protection and innovative means of regulation at jurisdictional boundaries or on the high seas.
The seminar was of interest to those involved in heritage conservation policy, salvage law, maritime military history and wreck divers and was open to all.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.