September 24 is World Maritime Day, an annual International Maritime Organization (IMO) observance day dedicated to recognizing marine services, ports, fishing and related industries. This year’s theme, “Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet,” drives awareness of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and member states’ ongoing work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, develop cleaner fuel and drive digital transformation.
Two J.D. Irving, Limited businesses operate at-sea – Irving Shipbuilding and Atlantic Towing. Together, they strive to reduce our carbon footprint, protect our ocean ecosystems, support ongoing research, and advance technology.
Understanding Marine Life & Reducing Underwater Noise
Atlantic Towing has partnered proactively with the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to measure the acoustic signatures of its vessels operating at different speeds to better quantify the impacts of reducing speed in areas frequented by marine life – largely whales. Noise is a significant disturbance to marine mammals and can impact almost all aspects of life.
“Understanding our baseline noise signatures, combined with our knowledge of where whales feed and where their critical habitats are, allows us to minimize our impact,” writes Dan Vyselaar, Director of Technology and Development with Atlantic Towing. “We can shift transit routes further from critical habitats and, at the same time, voluntarily slow down as we move past these areas.”
The biggest contributors to underwater noise? Propellers and engines. Atlantic Towing has already taken steps to reduce its noise pollution at the source. It’s four newest Platform Supply Vessels all feature variable frequency propellers – when on safety standby near an offshore platform, the propellers will turn only as needed to hold constant position, whereas older vessels would “jog back and forth” to keep maintain position, continuously running propellers at a constant RPM.
“The difference with the new PSV 5000’s has been noted in the Grand Banks with some of our most frequent visitors – whales,” notes Vyselaar. “The quieter nature of these vessels, and their ability to hold a constant location, allows nearby marine mammal populations to go about their business – feeding, socializing – virtually undisturbed. Vessel crews have noticed a difference. From a safe distance, they’ve seen and captured remarkable footage of whales in recent years, notably Humpback and Orca pods.”
The marine service provider has continued work with Green Marine to strengthen its support of marine mammal research, understanding and awareness throughout its harbour, coastal and offshore fleets.
While planning for the long-term is always a key priority, the pandemic reality has led Atlantic Towing to also prioritize short-term sustainability measures. These include providing a safe working environment, developing best practices for UV sterilization of all recirculated air on ships, sanitation practices and physical distancing measures to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.
Irving Shipbuilding Furthers Climate Research With 3D Wave Design
Irving Shipbuilding, as part of its Value Proposition commitments under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS), has invested over $5.75 million in COVE to support development of the programs and operations.
COVE is a world-class facility for applied innovation in the ocean sector and the only hub of its kind in the world where start-up companies, small and medium sized enterprises, large firms and post-secondary expertise are housed together developing ocean technology. Together, it is a catalyst in creating the world’s next practical, commercial, and revolutionary ocean tech advances. In talking about sustainability in the marine sector, one COVE member particularly comes to mind:
3D Wave Design is an Indigenous-owned and operated 3D animation and communications company, owned by Stevens Solutions & Design Inc., which has over 30 years’ experience in operations management, manufacturing, product design, training, marketing, sales, and business development. The company’s software relies on LiDAR data for building 3D terrain with accurate elevation, which is paramount in visualizing environmental data. LiDAR is an active remote sensing method that measures the amount of time it takes for a laser pulse to reach the Earth and return to the system. To capture data over a large area, the LiDAR instrument is mounted to an airplane, helicopter or RPAS.
Many coastal communities are at risk of sea-level rise induced flooding as an effect of a changing climate. Extensive research on the expected influence of these changes is being funded to help decision-makers mitigate risks. Along with 3D Wave’s 3D animation and technical design services, the company has developed an innovative 3D modelling/mapping service, with the support of NRC, NSERC, NSBI, ACOA and Nova Scotia Community College’s Applied Geomatic Research Group. It can now communicate climate change impacts via dynamic, user interactive 3D modeling, for sea level rise, coastal storm surge, and fluvial flooding and are supporting various First Nation communities and municipal, provincial, and federal government decision makers.
3D Wave is currently supporting the following Aboriginal communities: Acadia First Nation communities of Wildcat, Medway, Ponhook, Paqtnkek First Nation and the seaside towns of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg.