Drones Mitigate Risks In Maritime Sector

Drone with sea in background

Safer Maritime Sectors Through Drone Use

The use of unmanned drones have become commonplace in industries as varied agriculture and film-making, and have now naturally found a foothold in the maritime industry as well. Here are a few examples of how it is already being used to bolster safety and aid in risk management in ocean-based environments around the world, and a look at how it will likely be employed in future:

Current Maritime Uses of Drones
  • Ocean rescues in rough seas
  • Maritime search & rescue
  • Identification & early warning of sharks near swimming beaches
  • Physical ship examinations by class societies & marine surveyors
  • Vessel damage assessment by loss adjusters
  • Property claims assessment following fires & hurricanes
  • Asset condition assessment (e.g. oil rigs & offshore turbines)
  • Surveyance work & environmental monitoring in remote locations (e.g. the North Sea)
Future Maritime Uses of Drones
  • Widespread assessment of environmental pollution impact
  • Reporting congestion on major shipping & transit routes
  • Risky inspections of cargo holds & tanks (mitigating the impact of potential noxious gasses)
  • Inspections at height
  • Structural integrity inspections
  • Cargo load monitoring
  • Remote assessment of hazards at sea (e.g. pirate activity along the Somalian coast; ice in the Arctic and Baltic oceans)
  • Remote incident assessment to tally losses & note potential environmental impact

Naturally, this is just the tip of the iceberg (no maritime pun intended). As drone technology develops, the applications thereof will grow exponentially. By harnessing the potential of this unprecedented tech, the way we do business on international waters is poised to change for the good. Drones make it possible to streamline journeys, safeguard crew, and can even save lives when used effectively. Imagine how valuable a captain would find an unmanned unit that can be sent out to assess the damage to his vessel’s hull if it should run aground, or determine if there is any sign of buckling after a bout of heavy weather?

DID YOU KNOW? You need a license to operate a drone for commercial purposes. If you purchase one for personal or recreational use, you cannot fly it within 10 km of any airport, 50 m of a structure or road, or higher than 122m. You also have to keep it within line of sight, so you are not permitted to fly it at night. Drones that are used for commercial purposes have to be registered with the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and the user has to acquire a Remote Pilots Licence (RPL).

The Link Ship Chandlers team keep an eye out for fresh news and information on maritime development in South Africa. Keep an eye on the blog in coming weeks and months for more shipping-related news from around the African continent and further afield.

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