Who is Dr. Lee Kindberg:

Lee Kindberg is Head of Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability for Maersk Line in North America. She currently serves on the Marine Board of the US National Academies of Science. She served on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and Mobile Source Technical Review Subcommittee, and co-chaired the EPA Ports Workgroup from 2014-2016. She is also active in Business for Social Responsibility’s Clean Cargo Working Group, a global group dedicated to assessing and improving the environmental impact of shipping. 

Dr. Kindberg has a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Alabama and a Doctorate in Chemistry from the University of South Carolina. She joined Maersk Line in 2005.

(Photo Credits: Lee is far right with the Co-chair, the Permanent Ambassador to the UN from Trinidad and Tobago)

(Photo Credits: Lee is far right with the Co-chair, the Permanent Ambassador to the UN from Trinidad and Tobago)


Maersk presents to the UN – you’ll be surprised why

Authors: Vanessa Whittaker and Robyn Lyons

Rarely does one think about underwater noise in shipping or the effects of this noise on marine life, but Maersk Line’s Dr. Lee Kindberg, Director of Environment and Sustainability recalled a scene from Tom Clancy’s “Hunt for Red October” and made a connection. In the novel, a submarine reverses engines, generating bubbles which burst underwater, producing noise and revealing the submarine’s location. The formation of bubbles by the movement of the propeller is called cavitation. Reducing cavitation and thereby sound was a co-benefit of the recent radical retrofit project for our G-Class vessels completed in March 2018.

Maersk has been working on energy efficiency initiatives for several years, and is the only carrier completing “Radical Retrofits” on its vessels. This program involved investing about 1 billion USD over five years on “Extreme makeover” upgrades for about one hundred vessels.

The unsung benefits of Maersk’s Radical Retrofit

Reducing anthropogenic (man-made) underwater noise is an emerging issue globally and becoming a hot topic. This gave Dr. Kindberg an opportunity to present at the United Nations on June 18, 2018.

She was a part of the Canadian delegation at the UN’s Nineteenth Informal Consultative Process.  Maersk Line (the only steamship line invited to attend the delegation), presented “Shipping as a Source of Anthropogenic Underwater Sound.”

She described the overall experience as “exciting and fascinating”.  She added “I was humbled and honored by this opportunity to speak. Representing Maersk at this unprecedented event will raise awareness and help direct further developments on a topic that’s becoming critical for both our business and the stability and preservation of life in oceans”.


Why is Noise Generation a Concern and How Can We Make an Impact?

Underwater noise travels long distances and negatively impacts marine life whether generated through natural or man-made sources.  Dr. Kindberg shared some examples about how all marine life, from the tiniest of planktons to the largest whales react to noise.  Ship noise impacts whales’ mating communication.  For the Southern Resident Whale off the coast of British Columbia and Washington State this is particularly important.  This endangered species has only about seventy-four (74) animals remaining and efforts are underway to protect them.  By reducing underwater noise through retrofits and speed controls, we are minimizing our impact on these marine animals.

What’s next?

When asked whether underwater sound might become an industry requirement, Lee stated “Canada has committed to reduce underwater sound in critical areas by 2019. This has moved from an emerging issue to one we all need to consider and address.”