Lost at Sea

Graduation Date

Winter 12-13-2021

Grading Professor

Emily Laber-Warren

Subject Concentration

Health & Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


At the end of World War I and World War II, in a new era of peace, nations confronted an unprecedented logistical problem: millions of tons of unexploded ordnance—once a wartime boon—had become a peacetime burden. Faced with a mandate to dispose of excess munitions, militaries turned to dumping their stockpiles into the sea. But now a complex and urgent issue is emerging. Increasingly, as industry looks to build offshore—wind power turbines, internet cables, oil pipelines—they are facing a potential peril: millions of tons of unexploded bombs and ammunition that are lying on the ocean floor can explode or leak if accidentally triggered. It's a global problem, and politicians and industry leaders in the U.S., Canada, and Europe are mobilizing to better map the problem and come up with solutions.

The_Dumping_of_Surplus_Ammunition_at_Sea_H42208.jpeg (100 kB)
Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) place shells on gravity rollers that take surplus ammunition over the side of the ship and into the sea, Cairnryan, Scotland, 1946

2EHA8H5.jpg (4184 kB)
A coral encrusted unexploded bomb at depth off the island of Kahoolawe, Hawaii which was used for target practice during World War II (Photo: Alamy)

H31XR1.jpg (2478 kB)
“Potentially dangerous” World War II ordnance and munitions on Skipsea Beach in Yorkshire, U.K. (Photo: Alamy)

mustard gas.jpeg (219 kB)
Mustard gas stockpile waiting to be disposed as part of Operation Lewisite, Okunoshima, Japan, 1946.

pd_nr_399c_1080.mp4 (4685 kB)



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.