Call for Abstracts: Sea Lines of Communication 2016

Theme: Discovery
Location: Hartley Suite, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton
Date: 17 November 2016
Abstract Submission Deadline (NOW EXTENDED): 13th May 2016

The Southampton Marine and Maritime Postgraduate Group (SMMPG) would like to invite abstracts for a multidisciplinary conference. SMMPG is a collaboration between the University of Southampton’s postgraduate academics, the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI), and Lloyd’s Register. The group aims to encourage multidisciplinary  research by fostering discourse between many disciplines, from shipbuilding to archaeology and oceanography to literature.

The theme of the conference is Discovery, which is meant to be taken in a broad sense. As such, ideas for papers include (but are not limited to):

  • how do you rediscover centuries-old maritime history?
  • the discovery of new technologies to address current problems
  • new ways of improving mariners’ physical and mental health
  • how do new and novel technologies affect the interpretation of the law?
  • how does our understanding of maritime geography influence literature?
  • how do we adapt to the effects of global climate change?

The event builds on the highly successful conferences of the last two years, where papers from diverse disciplines were presented to audiences of scholars and professionals from various maritime fields; and published in a monograph of the day’s papers. As befits the theme of Discovery, we hope to engage researchers from many diverse fields to inspire a new approach to maritime research.

We are accepting abstracts from postgraduate and early-career researchers in any discipline, for papers which resonate with the theme of Discovery and relate to any four of the SMMI’s broad themes:

Society & Government ● Trade & Transport ● Energy & Resources ● Climate & Environment

Papers will each last 15 minutes and will be organised into four panels based on the categories above. Each panel will be introduced by an established academic and followed by a period of discussion. Additionally on the day we will be having poster presentations. Therefore, we will be accepting abstracts for these as well. While Discovery is the broad theme we have chosen to work within, the conference’s focus is firmly on the concept of multidisciplinary communication. The ultimate aim of the conference is to forge connections between academics with different fields of expertise as well as engage with the wider public, including representatives from business and industry. As such, the presentations should be delivered with the aim of communicating the paper’s central themes and proceedings will be published in a book, which aims to develop a set of tools that can be used to further multidisciplinary research and develop our understanding of the maritime world.

Please send your proposal (250-300 words) to by Friday 13th May, 2016. Abstracts should be formatted in a Word file and attached to the email. Please include your full name, the name of your university, and a brief bio. Themes are open to interpretation. Please indicate if your abstract is for a presentation or a poster. Please direct any questions to the conference organisers at the above email address.


Environmental Policy (Tom Redd)

This week, our SMMPG meeting was held at the National Oceanography Centre, which was a lovely change of scenery.

Tom discussed how the use of science in the design and implementation of environmental policy is thought to be essential. This, however, can sometimes lead to controversy, as seen in the setting of catch quotas for fisheries. This talk examined some of the problems involved in generating advice for policymakers including uncertainty, transparency and legitimacy. This is an on-going project that Tom is working on, and it is looking for ways to improve how scientific advice is produced to support marine policies in Europe.


Maritime Insurance (Ding Jing Huang)

This week’s talk was by Ding Jing Huang, who discussed two maritime insurance cases. The first case discussed was that of the Cendor MOPU (2011) – a Texas-built oil rig which was damaged during its transport to Malaysia. It was established that the legs of the oil rig, which was transported fully assembled, broke off due to progressive stress fatigue. The oil rig was insured for transport against “all risks!”, but with some exceptions – which included inherent vice of the subject matter. This is juxtaposed with the notion of perils of the sea, which need not be a very significant event such as a big storm or shipwreck, but can just be the ordinary movement of the sea. The verdict by the High Court was that the damage was due to inherent vice of the subject matter, in which case the insurer wouldn’t have to pay. However, the Court of Appeals ruled the damage was caused by perils of the sea (damage caused by a “leg-breaking wave”) – and the Supreme Court also ruled the damage was caused by perils of the sea and the insurer was forced to pay up. The second case discussed was the Nukila case (1997), also an oil rig which was also damaged during transport. The damage was called fatigue cracking due to waves and the rig was insured as hull/machinery rather than as cargo. The point of debate in this case was whether the damage was due to a latent defect (defect which is hidden) or not. This latent defect then becomes actual damage due to the waves. This was also the opinion of the Court of Appeals, which ruled that the insurer again had to pay up.

The subsequent discussion focused primarily on the notion “perils of the sea” and what it does and doesn’t seem to include. It was pointed out that in law, these concepts have to be defined – parts of these definitions then need to be defined separately and so on. A lot remains up for interpretation, which is what makes these things so complicated.