The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) expanded its drone services to assist in monitoring ship emissions in the Baltic Sea, as well as support surveillance in the Black Sea region.
ollowing a request from the Environmental Protection Department of Lithuania’s Ministry of the Environment, EMSA announced it is providing the country with Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) services, starting from 23 March, to assist in monitoring ship emissions and improve maritime safety.
The services will run for three months and will see EMSA RPAS being used to calculate the sulphur content of the fuel being used by the passing ships. Sensors onboard the RPAS will measure the emissions from the exhaust plumes of vessels travelling in the main shipping lanes and when at anchorage around the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda, in the Baltic Sea. The sulphur content of marine fuel in this Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) should be no greater than 0.1%.
The Environmental Protection Department will also be using the service in collaboration with other Lithuanian authorities – including the Navy, MRCC and fisheries control services – to conduct other types of maritime surveillance missions, EMSA informed.
All the information is transmitted in real-time to trained users through EMSA’s RPAS Data Centre and is encoded automatically into the THETIS-EU information sharing system. This system is operated by EMSA to assist in the enforcement of the EU sulphur directive as well as to support port inspectors when targeting vessels to be inspected.
In addition, the agency has provided multipurpose coastguard support via remotely piloted surveillance system (RPAS) services at the request of the Romanian Border Police.
In this case, the RPAS system will support a number of authorities in the Black Sea area, including the Romanian Naval Authority and National Agency for Fishing and Aquaculture. The PRAS can be used for a range of activities, including border control, monitoring naval traffic, search and rescue, and environmental protection.
The mid-sized RPAS craft can stay in the air for up to 7 hours and has a range of up to 200km. It is equipped with a camera capable of day and night operations, a sea surface scanner, a distress beacon detector and a sensor that can detect vessel positions.
The service has been allocated for six months, and will also contribute to specific missions conducted by the Romanian Border Police within the Multipurpose Maritime Operation 2021 in the Black Sea, in coordination with Frontex, EMSA and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).
Later this year, EMSA will add a second RPAS to the region (a light quadcopter), which will operate from the Romanian patrol vessel Stefan Cel Mare.