Montenegro’s Laboratory of Maritime Archaeology to expand Wrecks4All project – DIVE Magazine

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ai generated image of people exploring a wreck in VR
Concept image for a VR wreck exhibit (Image: LabMA)

Montenegro’s Laboratory of Maritime Archaeology (LabMA) is to expand its Wrecks4All project, bringing more of the Southern Adriatic’s historical shipwrecks to life.

Founded by maritime archaeologist Darko Kovacevic in 2022 at the University of Montenegro, LabMA was the first research unit of its kind to be established in the Balkan nation, dedicated to showcasing and preserving the wrecks located off the coasts of Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

‘Underwater cultural heritage is a significant resource for scuba diving tourism, the development of which directly brings socio-economic benefits to coastal communities,’ said Kovacevic in a statement announcing the news. ‘Its attractiveness, cultural, and historical value contribute to regional cultural cohesion and cross-border cooperation.’

The Wrecks4All project has set new regional standards for the accessibility of underwater cultural heritage through the digitisation of the surveyed wrecks and the promotion of scuba diving tourism.

The Wrecks4All app enables people to explore the Adriatic’s underwater cultural heritage

Digitisation of the wrecks has been carried out by the LabMA team working from its dedicated diving vessel, with cameras, a laser scanner and BlueRov2 underwater robot collecting the data for processing.

The 3D images of the wrecks have been made available through the Wrecks4All mobile application, and more recently have been displayed as a virtual reality exhibition at the Maritime Faculty of the University of Montenegro.

Highlights from the project include the wreck of the French destroyer Dague, sunk during the First World War near the port of Bar, the wreck of the steamship Tihany, the torpedo boats Higgins 78 and Golešnica 91, a British Second World War Spitfire and a German Stuka dive bomber.

The project has made the underwater cultural heritage of the Adriatic accessible to a large number of people – far more than just the scuba divers and maritime archaeologists that are able to visit the ships themselves – and has been recognised as one of the most successful projects co-financed by the European Union across Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro.

The new programme – nicknamed Wrecks4All 2.0 – aims to capitalise on the original project’s success by expanding into new territories to promote the protection of underwater heritage through tourism.

Implementation will take place during 2024 through a number of conferences, B2B meetings, courses on underwater archaeology, and the digitisation of additional wrecks in Montenegro, Albania, and Italy.

Download the Wrecks4All app from Google Play and the App Store:

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