Children with drones in an underwater laboratory | Deloitte Impact Foundation


Children with drones in an underwater laboratory

Docking the Amsterdam

VOC-ship the Amsterdam is buried seven meters in the sand. It remains intact to this day, including its’ original cargo, awaiting to be uncovered together with all the stories it beholds. 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. Without Deloitte, the project would not have come this far. This kind of project has never been done before, is both unique and complex and needs a strong strategic partner with both eminence and network."


Prof. Jerzy Gawronski - Project Director
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