December 2023

IEEE MetroSea 2023

Sebastiano d’Amico, Pasquale Daponte and Maurizio Migliaccio

Fig.1: A geographical sketch of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea.

IEEE MetroSea 2023 was the first true international edition of the IEEE MetroSea conferences series, and it was sponsored by the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society (OES). It was held at University of Malta, Valletta Campus, Valletta, Malta, on October 4-6, 2023. Although it was the first IEEE MetroSea conference out of Italy there was a great involvement of Italian Institutions including the IEEE OES Italy Chapter. Further, patronages came from Italian Navy, Italian National Council of Research, OGS, ISPRA, University of Napoli Parthenope, University of Genoa, University of Trieste, University of Padua and University of Sannio.

The organizing committee was made by Pasquale Daponte (University of Sannio), Sebastiano d’Amico (University of Malta) and Adam Gauci (University of Malta).

Fig.2: The “San Girolamo scrivente” by Caravaggio at the Co-Cathedral of St. John in Valletta, Malta.

Malta is a nation made by three major islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Its name is meant to come from the Arabic name (Malita) of honey because of the presence of many honeybees. It is the smallest country within the UE, and among the smallest countries in the world with its 315,6 km².

Malta, is at the center of the Mediterranean Sea and it has always been an historical and cultural corner point for the cultures facing this Sea. As you can see in Fig.1, it is not far away from Sicily and also northern Africa. It is only 80 km away from Sicily, 284 km from Tunisia and 333 km from Libya. Two historical periods are particularly relevant: when in 1530 the islands were given to the Order of St. John to establish the base for his Knights, and of course during the World War II when Malta’s islands were a fundamental and strategical outpost of the allied forces. With reference to the crusades period and the Knights, very important artists worked in Malta, as Caravaggio, to make marvelous masterpieces, especially in the St. John’s Co-Cathedral, see Fig.2.

Fig.3: The marble stone located in the University of Malta, Valletta Campus.

The conference venue was the Valletta Campus in the historical and fascinating city capital of Malta, see Fig.3.

Valletta’s 16th-century buildings were constructed by the Knights Hospitaller. The city was named after Jean Parisot de Valette, who succeeded in defending the island from an Ottoman invasion during the Great Siege of Malta. The city is Baroque in character, with elements of Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern architecture, though the Second World War left major scars on the city. The city was officially recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980. The city has 320 monuments, all within an area of 0.55 square kilometers (0.21 sq mi), making it one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.

Coming to recent years, Malta is a very open economy (listed 41st according to the 2023 index of Economic Freedom) within the European Union, that it joined in 2004, and uses the euro currency since 2008. It accounts for a population of about 520,000 inhabitants. The official languages are Maltese, a mixture of Sicilian and Arabic, and English.

Fig.4: From Valletta the harbor of Malta.

Malta is characterized by its natural port and by the emphatical relationship of its citizens with the sea, see Fig.4. In short, a sunny and pleasant place to organize the IEEE MetroSea!

The conference accepted papers were 104, with a number of international registered attendees summing to 112. All articles submitted to IEEE MetroSea 2023, that have been accepted in a peer-reviewed process, have been published on IEEE Xplore Digital Library.

The Conference included 26 oral sessions, 1 poster session. Further, the conference schedule incorporates 3 keynote talks and 1 tutorial. The keynotes were held by the speakers: Emma Woolliams, Kenneth G. Foote and Andrea Buono. During the conference a theoretical-practical tutorial was also held by Ferdinando Nunziata, Università di Napoli Parthenope, Italy, on “SAR remote sensing of coastal areas”, see Fig.5.

Fig.5: Participants of the Theoretical-practical tutorial held by Ferdinando Nunziata on “SAR remote sensing of coastal areas”.

The three keynotes were particularly appreciated and truly outstanding. Emma Woolliams (National Physical Laboratory – NPL, UK), lectured on “Metrology to support satellite measurements of the ocean“, Kenneth G. Foote (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, WOODS HOLE, MA, USA), lectured on “Active-sonar metrology” and Andrea Buono (Parthenope University of Naples, Italy) lectured on “New trends for Synthetic Aperture Radar marine applications“.

The conference was lively, scientifically vivid and with participation of academic, operational and governmental people. Many young people attended the conference and participants from Italy, Malta, USA, UK, Norway, The Netherland, Poland, Croatia, France, Romania, Poland, Belgium, etc. Parallel oral sessions and poster sessions were organized out of the Plenary Sessions. The usual core of the presentations was about measurements of oceanographic parameters by several remote methods, e.g., satellite-borne sensors, drones, coastal radars, but also new methods based on marine bottom deployed optical fibers, and in situ sensors. Indeed, several challenging and emerging applications have been illustrated including sea plastic monitoring, earthquake signals, fishery stocks, etc. On the methodological side, several papers explored the benefit of artificial intelligence in marine signal processing. As usual, great attention was paid to marine pollutions and navigation risks.

Fig.6: The Italian Navy destroyer-missile launcher “Francesco Mimbelli”.

The conference participants had the chance to visit the Italian Navy destroyer-missile launcher “Francesco Mimbelli” (Fig6), and the Italian Coast Guard “Bruno Gregoretti” vessel (Fig.7). A technical visit was organized during the conference to the two vessels, see Fig 8.

As usual, the Special Session, “Military Metrology for the Sea”, was organized by the Italian Navy and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Naples Chapter.

In Fig.8 you can recognize (from left to right) the civilian Salvatore Gaglione, John Potter, Emma Woolliams, Maurizio Migliaccio, Pasquale Daponte, Kenneth Foote and Salvatore d’Amico.

Fig.7: The Italian Coast Guard “Bruno Gregoretti” vessel.

In Fig.9, you can see (from left to right) Ferdinando Nunziata, Salvatore Gaglione and Giuseppe Grieco in an off-session moment.

In Fig.10 you can see (from left to right) Maurizio Migliaccio, John Potter and Sebastiano d’Amico.

All social events were excellent and organized with great care and professionality.

The gala dinner was held on October 5th at the very peculiar M’dina Restaurant in the city of M’dina. M’dina is a fortified city in the northern region of the island of Malta, which served as the island’s capital from antiquity to the medieval period. The city is still confined within its walls, and has a population of 250, but it is contiguous with the town of Rabat, which takes its name from the Arabic word for suburb.

Fig.8: A picture of some participants visiting the Bruno Gregoretti Italian Cost guard vessel.

During the closing ceremony the awards were announced. The best paper award was achieved by Menno Buisman (Delft University of Technology, Port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands), for his paper entitled “Monitoring Water Column and Sediments Using DAS”, see Fig. 11.

Further, it was announced the approval of especially dedicated IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering Special Issue about the extended version of the best IEEE MetroSea 2023 (deadline 4 March 2024).

All details can be found on the Conference website ( and on the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering webpages (see issues of IEEE JOE from Oct.23 under Announcements).

IEEE MetroSea 2024 will be held in Portorose, Slovenia, (Fig.11), October 14-16, 2024 The IEEE Oceanic Engineerring community is warmly invited to enjoy the Conference. Then, Čakamo vas v Portorožu!

Fig.9: Participants at IEEE MetroSea 2023 in Malta.
Fig.10: More participants at IEEE MetroSea 2023 in Malta.
Fig.11: Award ceremony: The winner of the best paper, Menno Buisman (left) and Pasquale Daponte (right)
Fig.12: Portorose, Slovenia, will be the next venue of IEEE MetroSea.