The Defence Ministry has long relied on TNO's expertise in the field of measuring sound underwater. Navy frigates, for example, need to be as quiet as possible to help them avoid detection. Today, a variety of civil parties make use of this expertise, including shipping, the offshore industry, ports and construction companies.

One reason for this has to do with stringent national and European legislation on nature and the environment. Companies must demonstrate that their activities will not adversely affect marine life before they can obtain a permit for dredging or for building an offshore wind farm, for example. In a notable case, sound experts from TNO conducted extensive measurements for the Port of Rotterdam before and during dredging works for the construction of the Maasvlakte 2 terminal. TNO then used special propagation models to correlate the data to ship movements. This revealed which sources propagated which sounds through the area.

New measurement regulations

TNO is among the worldwide elite when it comes to measuring sound under water and analysing its potential negative impact on marine life. International parties therefore regularly approach TNO when it comes to projects involving underwater sound. For example, TNO is involved in developing new European measurement regulations. TNO also consults with shipbuilders and offshore companies on methods for designing quieter vessels and equipment. Companies that can demonstrate adherence to the strict legislation have a definite competitive advantage.