Noise from ships disturbs and threatens marine life. In the European project SATURN, twenty project partners from ten countries will work on a cleaner, quieter maritime sector over the next four years. The focus will be on solutions for reducing and mitigating the components of ship noise that are most annoying to marine life.

The special feature of this €8.96 million project funded by Horizon 2020 is that it can use a unique integrated and interdisciplinary approach with acousticians, marine biologists, maritime engineers and class societies working together to devise and test innovative solutions to reduce the most harmful effects of underwater noise. The project is led by the MaREI research centre for energy, climate and sea at University College Cork.

SATURN will work on uncovering the relationship between ship design and underwater noise production, on methods to assess the noise signature of individual ships cost-effectively, on understanding how marine mammals, fish and invertebrates react to the different noise levels and frequencies they receive, and on case studies to test the effectiveness of technical and operational efforts to reduce shipping noise through smart regional noise management policies. According to the project partners, this will represent a major change for the European maritime transport sector.

Dutch involvement

TNO, MARIN and Leiden University are involved from the Netherlands, in addition to the Dutch branches of the Wärtsilä and JASCO Applied Sciences companies. MARIN and Wärtsilä will research a ship design that is as noiseless as possible. The University of Leiden will focus on the measurable effects and consequences of that noise in fish. TNO and the company JASCO contribute their broad knowledge and expertise in the field of modelling and analysing underwater noise.