EMSA deploys drones for vessel emissions monitoring

EMSA deploys drones for vessel emissions monitoring

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has started operation of remotely piloted aircraft in the vicinity of the Strait of Gibraltar to monitor sulphur and nitrogen emissions from passing ships.

The pollutant data gathered will provide the Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda with the capacity to monitor emissions of compliance with existing regulations, in a bid to reduce the harmful effects on human health and the environment.

According to the EMSA, the drones have also been deployed for complementary tasks including pollution detection, suppression of trafficking and smuggling operations, fisheries control, and vessel traffic management.

READ: Why are more ports using drones?

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) is a Camcopter S100 unmanned helicopter operated by EMSA’s contractor, Nordic Unmanned. The RPAS is equipped with an emissions sensor from the contractor Explicit.

Upon collection of data, any indication of non-compliance can trigger an inspection at the next port of call to determine whether an infringement has taken place.

This is the second emissions monitoring campaign to take place in the area.

Emissions surveillance operations aim to reinforce the recent approval of the Mediterranean Sea as an emission control area by the International Maritime Organization which is expected to come into force in 2025.

While the Merchant Marine can use the measurements taken to check the passing ships’ pollutant compliance, the EMSA said the flights can also be directed to support the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency (SASEMAR) for search and rescue.

In April, the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) and the EMSA conducted a large-scale drone measurement campaign.

Over a period of three months, drones were deployed to measure the sulphur content in exhaust plumes from ships in the Baltic Sea to identify violations of the applicable limit values.

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