Unconvincing assessment of the hunt for polluting ships by drone 4

The EMSA drone will fly over the Strait of Pas-de-Calais for three months. – Nordic Unmanned

  • A drone flew over the Strait of Pas-de-Calais between September and December 2020.
  • It was to help detect sulfur oxide pollution from ships.
  • Out of 14 potential infractions, none could be confirmed by port inspections.

Give the product a chance. Between the end of September and mid-December, an experiment was carried out over the Strait of Pas-de-Calais to detect polluting ships using a drone. The Ministry of the Sea delivered, this Friday, the results of this operation which did not lead to any sanction against possible fraudsters. However, the institution is advancing “encouraging results” and the renewal of the experiment next spring.

As 20 minutes had explained it the day of the launch of the experiment, it was a question of making fly a drone of the type Schiebel Camcopter S-100 above the ships crossing in the strait so that the sensors of the machine analyze the emanations of fumes. The drone’s equipment makes it possible to detect and measure sulfur oxide in the plume of ship exhaust gases. The idea is to know whether the fuel used by the boats complies with the standards in force in this maritime corridor considered to be one of the busiest in the world.

No violation could be confirmed

The drone did the job by flying over and measuring the sulfur level in the fumes of 65 merchant ships during the three months of the experiment. Among these 65 vessels, 14 “were considered potentially in violation, and 11 of them could be inspected at the next port of call”, assures the Ministry of the Sea. Because yes, the data collected by the machine does not are not sufficient to characterize the offense. This can only be done by inspectors after a visit to the affected boat.

And this may be where the shoe pinches. According to the authorities, checks at the port could not confirm the violations. On none of the 11 suspected vessels. Asked about this by 20 minutes, the Ministry of the Sea did not follow up. On the contrary, the institution considers the results obtained to be “encouraging”, particularly in terms of “technical and operational lessons on the use of a drone” and for the targeting of vessels to be inspected. It was also decided to renew the operation, still from the Gray-Nez Emergency and Rescue Operational Center (CROSS), in spring 2021.