Maritime law

Maritime Law

A ship that sails without a crew? Technologically it is possible. All systems would then be controlled from the shore through ICT. But who is responsible if something were to go wrong on board a ship without a captain? New technology requires new regulations. But the reverse is also true. New regulations for safety and the environment need technological innovations. Maritime technology and law come together in the research field of the Maritime Law (ML) Professorship of Applied sciences of NHL Stenden University.

In 2030, maritime professionals will be working with technologies that are still to be developed under regulations that are yet to be written. According to the Maritime Law professorship, the key to the competences necessary for this, such as analysis, research and innovation, lie in the practically-oriented research carried out in the intersection of technology and law.

Near Terschelling, sunken submarine UB61, image based on sonar data.


North Sea Wrecks project

The Maritime Law research group is participating in the Interreg North Sea Wrecks project. Along the Dutch coast, there are over 3000 shipwrecks, of which the exact type of ships and cargoes is unknown for more than 2000 wrecks. The research group, together with students from various programs (including Ocean Technology, HBO Law, and Maritime Officer), conducts research on the shipwrecks around Terschelling and the associated regulations. Questions that arise include: What determines if a ship poses a danger to the environment? Where are the wrecks located? When did they sink? And to what extent are the wrecks still intact? In the North Sea Wrecks project, students from different programs at NHL Stenden collaborate. For example, the ship used for measurements by Ocean Technology students is operated by Maritime Officer students. Van der Velde says, "In this project, law students gain knowledge of the maritime industry, and vice versa. Like in the business world, the students learn to collaborate with different disciplines." Additionally, the students collaborate extensively with partners in Germany, Belgium, and Norway. In those regions, it is often unclear which wrecks are located where and in what condition. For more information about the project, visit the North Sea Region website.

North sea region logo

Who do we collaborate with?

Maritime law represents a niche field for specialists within research institutions, government bodies, and companies. The research group collaborates with maritime legal experts from both national and international backgrounds in research projects. As the research focuses on the intersection of law and technology, the Maritime Law research group collaborates with the Maritime Innovative Technologies research group at NHL Stenden. Within NHL Stenden, the research group also collaborates with researchers, lecturers, and students from the Thorbecke Academy and the Academy of Leisure & Tourism. Additionally, the research group maintains relationships with maritime industry associations such as the KVNR (Royal Association of Dutch Shipowners), NMT (Netherlands Maritime Technology), the Association of Water Contractors, and the Dutch Association of Transport Law. In the education sector, there are strong connections with other Dutch maritime educational institutions and knowledge institutes such as TU Delft and MARIN.

Research Lines

The Maritime Law research group, led by professor Welmoed van der Velde, is integrated into the Maritime Research Group, which focuses on three research lines:

  1. Sustainability and Regulation
  2. Advanced maritime operations, design, analysis, and optimization tools
  3. Modeling and simulation of maritime artifacts

Professional Doctorate

The shipping industry faces significant challenges in terms of sustainability and energy transition. New regulations require a 55% reduction in ship emissions by 2030. This task calls for the use of alternative fuels, smarter navigation, and increased automation. In 2023, NHL Stenden will offer a new professional education program called the Professional Doctorate, which trains candidates to become research professionals. Do you want to contribute to the sustainability of the maritime sector? Apply for the vacancy by clicking the button below.

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The research group consists of a multidisciplinary team of researchers, lecturers, and students, led by Lector Welmoed van der Velde. Through practice-oriented research, we strengthen the exchange of knowledge between education and the professional field. The research group is part of the Maritime Research Group, which also includes the Maritime Innovative Technologies research group, led by Lector Herbert Koelman. Both research groups collaborate closely within the research group, focusing on technology and regulations in the maritime sector.


NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences
Maritime Institute Willem Barentsz

Team members

Lectoral address mr. dr. Welmoed van der Velde

A Catalyst between Law and Technology

Sustainable Development Goals

This professorship contributes to...