German Research Vessel ‘Sonne’ in Sri Lankan waters


Having completed its expedition around Australia, the German research Vessel "Sonne", among the biggest of its kind, arrived at the Colombo harbour last week to start its expedition in Sri Lankan waters.

The expedition was aimed at solving the mystery around the separation of India and Sri Lanka from Antarctica more than 116 million years ago, which once made up one giant supercontinent. The expedition is part of the research project INGON, which investigates the mechanisms and processes in the Earth’s mantle that are active during the breakup of continents, the formation of ocean basins and the drift of tectonic plates. The project is planned and implemented in cooperation between the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) Bremerhaven and the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

Besides a wide range of scientific gadgets, the ship carried 31 crewmembers and 26 scientists on-board throughout this expedition. The team also comprised of seven participants from Sri Lanka, two participants from the United Kingdom, and one participant each from Japan, France, and Austria. After almost a whole month together on board, the ship finally returned to Colombo harbor on 17th August. Despite occasional disturbances by the weather or whales that bravely approached the ship, the research could be conducted as planned and the team returned with a large amount of data that will be evaluated in the coming weeks. Mr. Geissler, the head of the German research team said: "I am optimistic that the collected data will give a lot of new insights, which will be made available to the public and shared with our Sri Lankan counterparts."

The "Sonne" is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research with the aim of finding answers to questions that are of global relevance. The original "Sonne" has been sailing in the Pacific and Indian Ocean for 37 years before it was replaced in 2014 with a new ship, which was given the same name. With its modern equipment and the black, red and golden band around its hulk the "Sonne" is a brand ambassador of the internationally recognized German marine research.

"Having a passion for ships, I can knowingly say that the "Sonne" is unique. I thank the Captain and his team for giving us at the Embassy, as well as many Sri Lankan university students and professors the opportunity to visit the ship and learn about the work that is carried out on it" said Ambassador Rohde.

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