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Sunken wreck environmental risk assessment (SWERA)

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Side scan sonar view over a sunken cargo ship (Finnish Border Guard)

SWERA in Brief

SWERA, Sunken Wreck Environmental Risk Assessment is a new approach towards to better under-standing of the pollution threat of sunken ships. The new and innovative approach combines the theoretical risk assessment method developed at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden with an oil removal risk tool by SYKE and Alfons Håkans Ltd. Preparing a joint wreck register will be coordinated by Tallinn Technical University. The novel salvage support tool will further advice technicians and salvage operators to design the safe and economically feasible way to work close to the sunken wreck, and to execute successful operations.

Major Events

The project Kick Off was held in May 15 in Helsinki following the first workshop in Gothenburg hosted by Chalmers University.

Selected underwater objects was studied in-situ in Autumn 2015 by the Marine Systems Institute producing hydrodynamic characteristics close to the objects.

The First Meeting of the Expert Group on environmental risks of hazardous submerged objects (SUBMERGED 1-2014) took place in Szczecin, Poland, 29-30 October 2014. SWERA project was presented by Mr. Jorma Rytkönen describing also the work conducted by Chalmers University and Tallinn University of Technology. Please check the ToR of the established working group and the Minutes of the Meeting:


Wrecks of the World III conference

BONUS SWERA had a joint international seminar with WOW III (World of Wrecks) international Conference in Gothenburg Sweden in 12.-13 October, Please check the programme.

The whole programme for the Wrecks of the World Conference III can be found here.

Please find enclosed the following BONUS  SWERA presentations made in WOW III:

You can find all the presentations of the WOW III from: http://www.lighthouse.nu/node/1142

BONUS SWERA Final Seminar

BONUS SWERA Final Seminar was held 13 February jointly with the Wreck Diving Day, please see the programme: Wreck Diving Day 2016 (pdf, 1 133 kB)

Wreck Diving Day: more than 300 experts and professional divers were participating the Bonus SWERA Final Seminar at the Helsinki Exhibition Centre
Wreck Diving Day: more than 300 experts and professional divers were participating the Bonus SWERA Final Seminar at the Helsinki Exhibition Centre


There are more than 8 500 sunken wrecks around the world with certain amount oil onboard. Also Baltic Sea waters hide numerous wrecks with oil onboard. Alone in the Finnish coastline exists hundreds of wrecks with oil onboard. Similarly Swedish government has carried out a study with Coast Guard and Chalmers University and mapped significant amount of wrecks with oil onboard.  Sunken ships pose also environmental risk close to the Estonian coastline. Significant amount of these ships are already in such age, where corroded steel plates will let oil penetrate through the hull, thus causing a continuous source for pollution. Moreover, all wrecks have their own environmental characteristics which jointly with the wrecks own condition will cause confusion when evaluation risk of pollution.

Main Objectives

  • WP 1.) to study and combine the existing national wreck statistics (coordinated by the Tallinn University of Technology);
  • WP 2.) to validate the model developed by the Chalmers University against measured data, both envi-ronmental parameters and ship wreck data parameters from the case studies (coordinated by Chalmers University);
  • WP 3.) to extend the model work to also include the risk assessment of different salvage operation alter-natives and to develop novel risk approach where the approach will give an understanding whether the wreck should and could be salvaged or not (coordinated by SYKE);
  • WP 4.) to develop innovative technological solutions for wreck monitoring, oil removal operations with principal design drawings to manufacture and test the novel tools in field operations (coordinated by Al-fons Håkans Ltd).

Related Publications

Selected Introductory papers by partners at the Kick Off meeting, May 15 2014:


Related links

SWERA project personnel is co-operating BADEWANNE diving group in Finland. Badewanne is a non-profit organization representing a group of voluntary divers that have been documenting shipwrecks in the Gulf of Finland (known during WW II as “Badewanne”) for more than 20 years. Please check:


To get an idea about their work, please check this powerpoint presentation:

Badewanne presentation (pdf, 6 386 kB)

More information about the BONUS call 2012: Innovation and the funded projects at
and Maija Sirola, Communications Manager, BONUS EEIG, tel. +358 (0)40 352 0076, maija.sirola(at)bonuseeig.fi

BONUS www.bonusportal.org
BONUS is a joint research and development programme producing knowledge to support development and implementation of regulations, policies and management practices specifically tailored for the Baltic Sea region. It issues calls for competitive proposals and funds projects of high excellence and relevance based on its strategic research agenda.

More Information:

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Published 2016-02-22 at 11:02, updated 2020-06-30 at 14:46