First of two workshops held on NATO maritime strategies and operations


By Tom Duffy, Published in 'Tuesday Tidings', National Maritime Historical Society, 21 November 2023.


In Wilhelmshaven, Germany on November 8 and 9, the Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the German Armed Forces (ZMSBw), represented by Commander Dr Christian Jentzsch and the Institute for Security Policy, Kiel University (ISPK), represented by Dr. Sebastian Bruns, held the first of two workshops examining “NATO’s Maritime Strategies and Naval Operations since 1985.” The workshops are an interdisciplinary - political science/military history - approach identifying maritime trends and watershed events on the naval side of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

This first two-day workshop, focused on NATO maritime strategies, was held on the grounds of the Deutsches Marinemuseum, an extraordinary German naval history museum that, inter alia, features one of the last surviving US Adams-class destroyers as a museum ship – FGS Mölders, built at Bath Iron Works under hull number DDG-29 and launched in 1967 in German naval service as D186. DMM | German Naval Museum (

The workshop began on November 8 with an examination of historic cases, with legendary American maritime strategist Dr. Stanley Weeks of SAIC speaking of being “Present at the Creation” of the US Maritime Strategy of the 1980s, Dr. Duncan Redford of the UK’s Maritime Warfare Centre presenting “Confronting Russia at sea in the 1980s” and asking “is it time for a new Forward Maritime Strategy?” and Dr. Anselm van der Peet of the Nederlands Institut voor Militaire Historie examining “Maritime Strategy al la carte: securing a new course for balanced Dutch navy in the mid-1980s.” This session, along with all subsequent sessions, featured robust debate among the participants and the presenters were encouraged to incorporate points raised in the discussions in the final versions of their papers.

The next session looked at special case studies, with Berk Vindevogel of the Ghent Institute for International and European Studies presenting on “Deepfreeze Defence: The Evolution of NATO’s Maritime Strategy in the Arctic,” Emma Salisbury of Birkbeck College, London addressing “From Hulls to Pods: Why NATO’s navies should be aware of the allure of mission modularity,” and the National Maritime Historical Society’s own Dr. David Winkler describing “The NATO-USSR Bilateral Incidents at Sea Agreements: The Multilateral Accord that Never Was.”

November 9 resumed with a session on national perspectives, with Royal Danish Navy Commander Johannes Riber explaining “Why did Denmark decide to invest in blue water sea power capabilities in 1990” and Dr. Michal Piekarski of Wroclaw University presenting “From Cold War Warriors to Blue Water Ambitions: Evolution of Polish Maritime Strategy in the context of NATO Expansion.”

The workshop concluded with a session reviewing recent and future developments, with British writer Dr. Lee Willett examining “The Russo-Ukraine War and the principles and practice of NATO maritime strategy” and Dr. James Wirtz of the US Naval Postgraduate School describing “Integrated Deterrence: Implications for NATO Maritime Strategy.”

ZMSBw and ISPK were generous hosts; discussion and debate spilled over into lunches and dinners on the margins of workshop.

A selection of the workshop papers will be published as part of ISPK’s Seapower Series (Nomos, Baden-Baden) in 2025. Another deliverable will be an article by Dr. Bruns and Commander Dr. Jentzsch on the subject of the research project.

Both days featured superb tours personally conducted by Deutsches Marinemuseum Director Dr Stephan Huck, including an insightful analysis of the challenges inherent in exhibiting German military history as well as a guided tour aboard Molders

The next workshop, focusing on NATO naval operations, will be held in Kiel, Germany on March 13-14, 2024.