When grown under intermittent light (IL), the pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum forms 'super' non-photochemical fluorescence quenching (NPQ) in response to excess light. The current model of diatom NPQ mechanism involves two quenching sites, one of which detaches from photosystem II reaction centres (RCIIs) and aggregates into oligomeric complexes. Here we addressed how antenna reorganisation controls NPQ kinetics in P. tricornutum cells grown under continuous light (CL) and IL. Overall, IL acclimation induced: (i) reorganisation of chloroplasts, containing greater pigment pools without a strongly enhanced operation of the xanthophyll cycle, and (ii) 'super NPQ' causing a remarkable reduction of the chlorophyll excited state lifetime at Fm'. Regardless of different levels of NPQ formed in both culture conditions, its dark recovery was rapid and similar fractions of their antenna uncoupled (~50%). Although antenna detachment relieved excitation pressure, it provided a minor protective contribution equivalent to NPQ~1, while the largest NPQ was 4.4±0.2 (CL) and 13±0.8 (IL). The PSII cross-section decrease took place only at relatively low NPQ values, beyond which the cross-section remained constant whilst NPQ continued to rise. This finding suggests that the energy trapping efficiency of diatom antenna quenchers cannot over-compete that of RCIIs, similarly to what has been observed on higher plants. We conclude that such 'economic photoprotection' operates to flexibly adjust the overall efficiency of diatom light harvesting.