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Suppression Of underwater Noise Induced by Cavitation (SONIC)

Suppression Of underwater Noise Induced by Cavitation (SONIC)

The aim of the SONIC project is to develop tools to investigate and mitigate the effects of underwater noise generated by shipping.

Project leader

Professor Mehmet Atlar (PI)

Dr Ignazio Maria Viola


October 2012 to October 2015

Project staff

Dr Rod Sampson

Mr Serkan Turkmen

Dr K-C Seo

Mr George Politis

Batuhan Aktas (PhD student)

Mr Patrick Fitzsimmons


European Commission Seventh Framework Programme









MARIN (Co-ordinator)




The aim of the SONIC project is to develop tools to investigate and mitigate the effects of underwater noise generated by shipping. This is the 'noise footprint' of an individual ship. Also the spatial distribution of sound from a large number of ships (a “noise map”).

  1. Enhance the understanding of noise generated by a cavitating ship propeller
  2. Validate predictions of noise levels for individual ships, and to classify ships based on simplified noise models.
  3. Map the noise generated by shipping in general and to propose mitigation measures for quietening the oceans.



According to studies in marine biology, background noise influences the behaviour of large sea mammals as well as fish. Cavitation of ship propellers are a main source of this background noise.

The EU requires Member States to demonstrate that levels of underwater noise do not harm marine life.

Cavitation noise from shipping traffic is largely responsible for low frequency ambient noise. A need has arisen for an improved understanding of the correlation between cavitation and background noise in the seas.

The EU has set out on improving the environment within its member states. It has adopted the Good Environmental Status. It is further defined in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The Directive describes descriptors for measuring the environmental status.

One of these descriptors is the underwater noise linked to among others maritime transport. It states that the reduction of underwater noise will be a measure for the improvement of the environment.


SONIC delivers the technical knowledge required for mapping, measuring and mitigating noise from shipping.

The results of the SONIC project contribute to quieting the oceans and improving the well-being of marine life.

The SONIC consortium consists of:

  • World-leading hydrodynamic institutes
  • Noise experts
  • Propeller designers
  • Reputable universities with specialised centres in this field
  • Major European shipyards
  • A class society

This brings together a wealth of knowledge on propeller cavitation and noise reduction.

It established interaction with the marine biology network. This obtained necessary input to the project from renowned institutes in the field of marine biology.

Furthermore, the consortium will aim for an open Advisory Board. This consists of a wide range of experts from the marine and maritime research communities, including members of the MARCOM+ forum.

The SONIC project in close cooperation with the AQUO project.

It does this through the following:

  • Sharing data
  • Combined workshops
  • Dissemination activities
  • Developing guidelines for industry and regulations
Newcastle University

Newcastle University’s specific tasks involve:

  • Validation of the noise prediction tools using the Research Vessel (The Princess Royal) model in their Emerson Cavitation Tunnel as well as in other members’ facilities
  • Conducting full-scale trials with the Princess Royal to provide “Benchmark” cavitation, underwater radiated noise and on-board noise data
  • Development of underwater noise prediction tools in early design stage using systematic propeller series approach.