Sometimes towering to a height of 30 metres, and seemingly coming from nowhere, 'rogue waves' (1
) are genuine monsters of the seas. Over the past 20 years, about 200 vessels of over 200 metres in length have been sunk or damaged by an encounter with these freaks of nature which have claimed the lives of 540 sailors. The multidisciplinary team working on the MaxWave European project is now trying to understand how these waves are formed, to analyse their potential to harm, and to suggest an appropriate warning system. It is hoped that shipyards will be able take these data into account to strengthen the resistance of ships and offshore platforms.