Children with drones in an underwater laboratory | Deloitte Impact Foundation


Children with drones in an underwater laboratory

VOC: Docking the Amsterdam

Foundation 'VOC Ship Amsterdam' and the Deloitte Impact Foundation are taking steps to store a sunken VOC ship and transport it to the home port of Amsterdam. Project director Jerzy Gawronski shares his story.

Professor Jerzy Gawronski has been involved with the foundation that is doing archaeological research on the VOC ship the Amsterdam since 1982. He initiated this project during his work as city archaeologist of Amsterdam and professor at the University of Amsterdam. In this article he tells us about the expected findings, the biggest challenges and the ultimate goal: bringing the VOC ship that is currently based on the coast of the Hastings back to the Netherlands.

Jerzy Gawronski has been working as an underwater archaeologist for 25 years and dived into the Amsterdam himself. Jerzy: "The Amsterdam is a well-preserved ship wreck filled with countless objects that tell us a lot about our history. With this project we want to teach people and children something about history in a different way. A museum is often the presentation of the results of archeological research. The idea of Amsterdam is more that of a knowledge factory, a place of work and execution, with interaction and a place that continuously stimulates discoveries. "

What do you think you’ll find on board?
"The Amsterdam is built to cross 15,000 miles with 300 people on board in 9 months’ time. There must be more than 10,000 items including materials to maintain the ship, armament and cargo, facilities from Europe (eg hats, glasses and knives), navigation, but also the personal possessions of the people on board. Every object has its own story and tells us more about the economy, technology and culture of that time. In addition, the ship tells us more about the ecology because insects and seeds have been well preserved in the water. We try to preserve this environment as well as possible in our open underwater laboratory where the Amsterdam can be seen. I can visualize school children with a(n) (underwater) drone swimming behind a diver, looking for objects.

How is the ship brought to the Netherlands?
"By moving it as little as possible! The Amsterdam is a wooden shell of 42 meters long, 12 meters wide and 7 meters high, of which the iron connection has dissolved. The plan is to spray tires underneath the ship to create a harness that is lifted vertically into a floating dock by a lifting installation. Once arrived in the Netherlands, glass is put around the dock to create the aquarium."

The next big challenge concerning this project is the technique and the programming of the system that has to keep the water in the basin clear. Jerzy: "Are you going to kill the organisms in the water? Or keep them alive? We must prevent the basin from becoming full of algae and measures are also needed to keep all the different materials in the wreck stable. Just for answering these questions you can start an entire research."

Deloitte Impact Foundation
Deloitte has been involved in this project for a number of years and has supported issues related to innovation and technology, but has also assisted in bringing together the parties that do not usually collaborate. Jerzy talks about the impact that Deloitte is making through this project: "This project is not only about science and innovation, but also about how you can tell people about the past. This is where Deloitte Impact Foundation helps us. To make an impact on people by telling them more about who they are and where they come from."


About the article series

Foundation 'VOC Ship Amsterdam' and the Deloitte Impact Foundation are taking steps to store a sunken VOC ship and transport it to the home port of Amsterdam. This August, four members of the team share how they are involved in the project, and what impact it has on them. To read the other articles, please visit the overview page.


More information?

For more information about this project, please contact Christel Samson (Deloitte project lead) by sending an email to If you wish to receive more information about the Deloitte Impact Foundation, please send an email to   

Prof. Jerzy Gawronski - Project Director
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