Standard Ships of World War One: Too Little and Too Late? Seminar at the National Maritime Museum

On the 14th May, Chris Ware, of the Greenwich Maritime Museum and the University of Greenwich will be presenting his seminar:

Standard Ships of World War One: Too Little and Too Late?

After a hands-off approach to Merchant Shipping for most of the First World War, by 1917 the need for new tonnage was becoming acute. The Standard ships were seen as the answer. Based on contemporary designs, they were to fill the void left by losses to U-boats, but did enough come into service to make a difference? Or did they create a bubble in the market for ships that caused a collapse in the period of post-war austerity?

This is part of the Caird Library Research Programme 2018.

More information can be found on their website:



“Environmental Governance of the Oceans” by Dr Tim. A Stojanovic, University of St Andrews.

“Environmental Governance of the Oceans” by Dr Tim. A Stojanovic, University of St Andrews.

A free seminar held at the University of Greenwich.
Human activities in the oceans are expanding rapidly. There is concern that the oceans are facing environmentally degrading development pressures, as catchments did the industrial revolution. But there is also hope that new forms of activity can be developed smartly to minimise environmental impacts and benefit society. In response to these pressures, since 2005 over 60 marine plans have been developed by nations to help govern the marine environment. This paper will provide an overview of the phases and scales of marine development in the global oceans, as well as a review of the approaches to marine planning. In conclusion, the seminar will invite scholarly reflection surrounding these practicable tasks, including: What kind of institutional arrangements can draw together public, private and civil society into partnerships for the sustainability of the oceans? How should marine plans draw on the traditions of planning in the terrestrial environment? Which principles of governance will lead to more just allocation and sustainable outcomes for the world’s oceans? Such research questions build upon Greenwich Maritime Centre’s stated aims to deepen understanding of the relationships between society and the sea.

Tuesday 3rd April, 2018
Old Royal Naval College campus
Lecture Theatre Queen Anne 080
5.30pm – 8.00pm

The talk will last for 45 mins with a chance for a Q&A and networking after.

Tickets are free but limited so please do reserve your place:

For more information on our seminar series please visit:

Find out more about the Coastal and Marine Research Group (RGS) here:

If you have any queries please email:

‘The Big Skills Debate’

The National Maritime Big Skills Debate was held on the 8th November 2017 at the University of Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College campus.

We are very grateful to National Maritime for making available a recording of the event and are proud to share it with you here. Please don’t forget to subscribe to National Maritime’s channel to make sure you see similar events in the future.

The debate explored how the maritime sector currently collaborates to deliver maritime training that best supports business succession planning and challenged existing UK maritime training provision and funding streams. It also considered how the national ‘skills gap’ discussion could be simplified to encourage wider participation and collaboration from across the UK maritime cluster.

Representations were made from an expert panel from across the UK maritime cluster.

  • Andrew Bull, Headmaster – The London Nautical School (Chair)
  • Andrew Bowen, Head of Technical – Engineering and IT Department, DP World London Gateway
  • Tony Graham, Chairman – The UK Naval Engineering Science and Technology Forum (UKNEST)
  • Peter Aylott, Chairman, Education and Training – The Honourable Company of Master Mariners (HCMM)
  • Sezen Zeki, Managing Director, Jobs in Maritime
  • James Burr, Head of Human Resources – MBNA Thames Clippers
  • Dr Christopher Ware, MA Programme lead International Maritime Policy, Greenwich Maritime Centre
  • Ewan Shinton, Operations Director – UKSA

This event was delivered in partnership with Jobs in Maritime, the Greenwich Maritime Centre (GMC), Lloyds Maritime Academy and the National Maritime Training Centre.

Reflections on engagement with my exhibition ‘Liminal Matter’, held in association with The Greenwich Maritime Centre, by Lizzie Cannon

The Heritage Gallery, at the heart of the Old Royal Naval College, with its’ views of the River Thames was the ideal location for an exhibition which took the ‘Liminal Matter’ of the constantly shifting shoreline as its subject matter. Attracting audiences who had come to visit the grade I listed building on a World Heritage Site or to events such as the ‘The State of Maritime History Research’ Conference, enabled some interesting dialogue around historical artefacts, artistic interpretation and maritime issues.

IMG_4021 LR
View of In Transition (2015-17) and Corrosion (study with beads) 3 (2015) through door of the Heritage Gallery


One visitor identified the object used in ‘Corrosion: Study with beads 1’ (2013) as a hub cap, which he thought to be from a Morris manufactured between 1938 and 1950. Another, suggested ‘In Transition’ (2015-17) is derived from the inner lining of a funnel from a Steam Ship, built sometime between the 1890s and 1930s. As an artist, I am drawn to these objects in their delicate transitory state, somewhere between the functional, historical and organic, artefact and debris. I tap into a process of continued material change through subtle interventions, my needle and thread echoing the repetitive and circular action of the waves as I mimic the slow accumulation of rust and organic matter by sewing together tiny beads.

The exhibition was accompanied by a series of free events. The Researcher’s Discussion Group invited academics at the University of Greenwich to join in an inter-disciplinary conversation in response to the works exhibited. This gave a thought provoking insight into different ways the work could be interpreted and its contribution to understanding the liminality of the coast-line. For Dr. Vanessa Taylor (Lecturer in Environmental History / Research Fellow) ‘In Transition’ (2015-17) prompted thought around the passage of time, death and decay and the drive to recover what is dead. Coming from an Ecology background, Dr. Adriana Ford (Research Fellow in Environmental Social Sciences) was drawn to the beaded interventions, interpreting them as the colonisation of an inanimate object by something living. Dr. Tim Acott (Principal Lecturer, Environmental Geography) saw the work as a challenge to the notion of Ecosystem, by beginning to break down the ‘human-nature’ dualism.

Liminal Matters, an exhibitio by Lizzie Cannon
Exhibition installation shot: Corrosion (study with beads) 1-3 (2013-2015) and In Transition (2015-17). (Photography: Arnold Borgerth)


[Speaking about ‘In Transition’ (2015-17)]

TA: So presumably in its original function at that point it was allowing or enabling that ship to operate… and then it’s ended up on the beach and has become a vehicle for wildlife, for barnacles and things to grow in. It has started to become colonised, and so that distance to the human… is starting to get greater.

LC: But also, the history that comes before this starts to become apparent as well, before it was just matter that was in the ground that looks very much like what is now accumulating around the bottom I can imagine.

TA: Absolutely, yes, and take it one stage further than that, and how was that iron produced and how was it smelted, then this object is created and had a certain function, that was dissipated. And of course, the processes around that dissipation would be really interesting. What happened? How was the ship wrecked? What were the stories around that etc. and then it ends up on the beach. Is it part of the ecosystem, from when the barnacles started growing etc.? Who knows? Then you found it, you came along, and you took it out of that system and you started to put beads on it, you started photographing it and getting it into galleries, so it’s now an object of circulation, an object of aesthetic enjoyment etc. And it’s been sold to someone who lives in Suffolk… so if you were to write a life history of that object, its having an effect.

AF: Absolutely … and I was just thinking that object you found on the beach, how many people came across it before you, and did other people walk past it and what was their reaction to it? Did they think that is just horrible piece of pollution or did a child play in it?…

The varying nature and role of academic research also became apparent. Whereas Historians may often primarily focus on documents held in archives to evidence answers to predefined questions, the role of the artist, is perhaps, to stimulate questions and destabilise established ideas? In relation to the exhibited works, I feel the materiality of the objects leads this dialogue. Or in the words of Dr. Vanessa Taylor ‘You’ve got this object and it just kind of splurges all these things up and you can actually do with them what you want’. With reference to Jane Bennett’s book ‘Vibrant Matter’ and Bruno Latour’s ‘Actor Network Theory’, Dr. Tim Acott drew attention to the benefits of looking at objects as a process rather than a static given entity, as ‘actually having an effect … acting out as an entity that is causing something to happen’. These ideas resonate with me, as my process based interactions with the objects are a way of investigating and embracing an ontological fluidity that allows for an understanding of materiality as a reciprocal and generative relationship between humans and environment.

Discussion ensued around the purpose and justification for academic research and art practice, and more specifically, around the impact that the exhibition may have going forward. As an artist, I do not set out with a politicised agenda but hope to invite dialogue. It would be interesting if the discussion initiated by a work such as ‘In Transition’ (2015-17) were to continue in another medium or on another platform, contributing to an ongoing discourse.

This event was held in association with Greenwich Maritime Centre, University of Greenwich, was kindly supported by Arts Council England National Lottery funding, and was part of Totally Thames 2017 that runs from 1-30 September

UoG_2012_4 14 GMC LONG

“Art, Resilience and Porosity in the Coastal Zone.” Our next seminar at the University of Greenwich.

Dear all,

Following the success of our first CMRG & GMC Joint Seminar Series talk this week we are proud to announce the second in the series:

“Art, Resilience and Porosity in the Coastal Zone.” by Simon Read

Tuesday 5th December, 6pm

The University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, 30 Park Row, London SE10 9LS

Lecture Theatre QA080

It is an anomaly that whilst most coastal communities consider the continuing resilience of the coast and its defences a priority, there is a growing belief from the policy development sector that this should flow from a reinvigorated climate of social resilience. This begs the question of who is responsible to deliver resilience? From a community point of view the expectation persists that this is the duty of a benign authority, which recently has provoked a profound sense of betrayal when it is realized that this may not be so. This in turn evolves from a belief in the inherent value of coastal landscape, which is valued as much for its cultural significance as it is a source of livelihood. The bonds that tie people to place make them determined that the configuration of the landscape should remain as it always was or as it always was presumed to be. Although in reality it may be tenuous, it is nonetheless deeply rooted in the community psyche that a landscape that is inherently changeful is also predictable, consistent and cyclical in spite of copious evidence to the contrary.

For the full description please visit our website: 

And for FREE tickets please visit our Eventbrite page to sign up:


Das Meer: Maritime Welten in der Frühen Neuzeit / The Sea: Maritime Worlds in the Early Modern Period. Conference report by Dr Michael Talbot.

The history of the sea is going through an exciting period of rejuvenation and reinvention, evidenced by a number of recent innovative conferences, not least the 2017 ‘State of Maritime History Research’ held at the University of Greenwich. Across one body of water, our colleagues in Germany have also been thinking hard about things maritime, and a major gathering of German and international scholars was held in the historic Herzog August Bibliothek in the chocolate box town of Wolfenbüttel from 5 to 7 October 2017, generously supported by the German Research Foundation.

Organised by the Working Group on Early Modern History in the German Historians’ Association, this three-day maritime extravaganza was entitled ‘Das Meer: Maritime Welten in der Frühen Neuzeit / The Sea: Maritime Worlds in the Early Modern Period’. Twenty-three panels manned by a range of early career and established historians and curators, as well as maritime professionals, sought to explore some broad questions about the role of the sea in early modern history (c.1450-1800).



Schloss Wolfenbüttel, one of the conference venues


The conference dealt with some of the standard sources and ideas of maritime history, thinking about the sea as a contact zone between cultures, a commercial and migration superhighway, and, of course, a site of political contention. Yet the organisers also wanted to get the participants to think about, to use their words, ‘the perceptions, imaginations, and experiences of those living by, on, and off the sea’. This approach produced some of the most exciting papers, but also raised a number of issues.

As a conference with consecutive panels, I didn’t get to see everything that I wanted to, but what I did see provided much food for thought. The first panel on connected seas and oceans with examples from the North Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic set the tone for a conference that was genuinely comparative, and thoughtful in the comparisons it made. ‘Connectivity’ is a something of a buzzword, but here the links between the papers in terms of law and logistics were fascinating. My own panel, organised by the brilliant Dr Isabelle Schürch, thought about ports and their solid and liquid hinterlands as spaces of ‘transfer and transformation’, with examples from New Spain, Istanbul, and St Helena.

One of my favourite panels came on the morning of the second day, entitled ‘pirates matter / pirate matters’. Moving beyond the well-worn tropes of popular culture, this panel really showed what different frameworks could do to really help us understand experiences and perceptions of the sea and life at sea, from Richard Blakemore’s study of the role of violence to Claire Jowitt’s queering of piracy, to Daniel Lange’s excellent paper on English pirate maps in the later 17th century. Another superb contribution came with ‘a history of drowning and lifesaving in the 18th century’, where all the panellists had come to the topic of lifesaving through previous work on the history of suicide. A special mention must go to Charlotte Colding Smith of the German Maritime Museum in Bremerhaven, whose fellow panellists for the panel ‘Natur an Bord: Schiffstransport und frühneuzeitliche Wissensgeschichte [Nature on board: Maritime transport and the history of early modern knowledge]’ had been stranded due to a major storm disrupting transport in northern Germany. She gave her paper on the display of whales in early modern collections nonetheless, and it was one of the highlights of the conference.

The keynote by Neil Safier of the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, Rhode Island – another major repository of early modern learning – presented a number of fascinating ideas and challenges. He spoke about the success of the ‘oceanic turn’ in early modern studies that has challenged the dominance of the land, but at the same time, he argued, it has become clearer that we cannot talk about oceans without talking about continents – and vice versa. This oceanic turn, that has moved us away from stories dominated by the state and by swashbucklers to more mundane but important stories of ordinary sailors, indigenous peoples, and marine life itself, also then links the sea more closely with the land.



Before the keynote in the August Herzog Bibliothek


This is important. But it also poses problems for those of us who think about and value the sea as a distinct set of spaces, who appreciate links to the land but also understand that solid ground continues to dominate historical writing. Many of the papers at the conference in Wolfenbüttel were only tenuously maritime. In several presentations, the words ‘sea’, ‘water’, or ‘sailor’ weren’t even mentioned. This is the challenge of dealing with the ‘perceptions’ and ‘imaginations’ element of maritime history, and when ‘experiences’ become perhaps a bit too abstract. This is not to say that such approaches do not provide valuable insights. Rather, it is to say that we must perhaps be more precise in what we think we mean about this ever-challenging term, ‘maritime history’.


Dr Michael Talbot

Lecturer in the History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Middle East

Department of History, Politics and Social Sciences

University of Greenwich

Staff Profile

Out now: British-Ottoman Relations, 1661-1807: Commerce and Diplomatic Practice in Eighteenth-Century Istanbul

National Maritime ‘The Big Skills Debate’

November 8 @ 5:30 pm8:00 pm

at the University of Greenwich, London.


The National Maritime ‘BIG SKILLS DEBATE‘ is delivered in partnership with Jobs in Maritime, the Greenwich Maritime Centre (GMC) and the Shipbuilders and Shiprepairers Association (SSA). The event further supports our work around, encouraging and developing closer collaboration between all industries within the UK maritime cluster to drive economic growth.

The debates Chairperson:

  • Andrew Bull, Headmaster, The London Nautical School.

The panel:

  • Tony Graham, Chairman, The UK Naval Engineering Science and Technology Forum (UKNEST)
  • Peter Aylott, Chairman, Education and Training, The Honourable Company of Master Mariners (HCMM)
  • Susan Potter, HC Development Manager, DP World London Gateway
  • Sally Atkinson, Project Manager, Parkol Marine Engineering Limited
  • James Burr, Head of Human Resources, MBNA Thames Clippers
  • Dr Christopher Ware, MA Programme lead International Maritime Policy., Greenwich Maritime Centre
  • Ben Willows, Chief Executive, UKSA

The expert panel represents UK maritime cluster interests in naval design and engineering, the merchant navy, port operations, fisheries, shipbuilding, inland waterways and education.

The debate will explore how corporates, entrepreneurs and governments currently collaborate to deliver maritime training that best supports business succession planning, it will challenge existing UK maritime training provision and funding streams and take the opportunity to consider how the national ‘skills gap’ discussion can be simplified to encourage wider participation and collaboration from across the UK maritime cluster. The format will be a 90 minute panel debate (BBC Question Time panel delivery). The event includes a drinks reception.

Event Registration: 17.30 hrs


£20 + VAT for National Maritime SSA members

£25 + VAT for Non-Members

For more details or to purchase your ticket please visit or email