Ponant cruise ship awarded for reducing underwater noise pollution

The last sister-ship in the Ponant Explorers series of six expedition class cruise ships, Le Jacques-Cartier, has been awarded the Bureau Veritas class notation NR614 for Underwater Radiated Noise (URN).

The award of the notation reflects the company’s commitment to reducing the environmental impact of its ships and operations making Le Jacques-Cartier is one of the few cruise ships in the world to have obtained this certification.

NR614 comes to establish requirements for the measurement of underwater radiated noise and the ‘acoustic sound signature’ emitted by self-propelled ships. By doing so, it supports the management and mitigation of the impact of noise on marine fauna in both shallow and deep waters. 

“We are very happy to have obtained this certification recognizing the years of research and development dedicated to the creation of the Ponant Explorers series. It perfectly illustrates Ponant’s commitment to making environmental protection its priority, right from the design of ships,” declared Mathieu Petiteau, Director of Newbuilding, Research & Development at Ponant.

Several sound tests were carried out in September, off the coast of Morgat, located in the Gulf of Morbihan in Brittany. Using a measurement buoy in the form of a floating line with 3 hydrophones, Bureau Veritas experts with technical support from acoustic specialists Quiet Oceans analysed the sound radiation from Le Jacques-Cartier to assess the vessel’s acoustic signature.

The URN notation, valid for 5 years at a maximum speed of 13 knots, is provided in addition to the Bureau Veritas Comfort 1 certification, guaranteeing passengers the lowest possible noise impact level, already issued to the entire Ponant fleet by Bureau Veritas.

In 2017 the company supported the ECHO program, an initiative taken by the Port of Vancouver. Ponant’s ships deliberately reduced their speed in an important feeding area for whales, to reduce underwater noise in this area. Subsequently, they extended these measures deciding to limit the average speed of all its vessels to 10 knots, regardless of the navigation zone to mitigate the impact on underwater fauna.

The company has also contributed to the European collaborative research project AQUO, which studies the modelling of underwater noise. It highlights the impact of sound radiation linked to maritime transport on wildlife and has notably published recommendations for optimizing the construction of future ships. This contribution continues with PIAQUO, an implementation project using the AQUO tools and approach.