Committed in assuring the safety of all the users of the sea by providing them assistance when necessary, the maritime rescue organizations aim at always saving more lives. Their know-how and SAR (Search & Rescue) operations remain crucial as there are still 1200 casualties linked to domestic ferries incidents each year according to the Worldwide Ferry Safety Association (WFSA), as written in a recent newsletter of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF).
Taking also into account the alarming figures concerning the soaring number of migrants risking their lives with hazardous crossing attempts of the Mediterranean sea, several challenges must be overcome by sea rescue teams in order to fulfill their mission. Only for the Greek case, an increase of 750% was noted compared to 2014 according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The rescue drone: an essential new tool
Prevention, training and innovation are the three development focuses pursued to increase the efficiency of sea rescuers operations and to work in the best possible conditions. The equipment has a major impact in the quality of the performed interventions. In order to face the indomitable sea and its unpredictability, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are now coming to strengthen rescue teams.
Redningsselskapet (The Norwegian Rescue Society) is a pioneer in this case thanks to its first drone purchased in December 2014 to support its sea rescue operations. Norway has 25.000 km of steep coastline including many islands and its world-famous fjords, making it a demanding environment with often difficult weather conditions.
A 360° aerial vision
Currently operating in Ballstad, in the Lofoten islands, the UAV rescue team can already certify of the several benefits the drone offers for sea rescue operations. First of all, the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) provides a 360° stunning aerial view allowing to cover large search areas in a short period of time.
The UAV is also designed to be a reliable partner for sea rescue operations and its usage becomes easy thanks to numerous functionalities. For example, it has an automatic come-back to its base when the battery reaches a certain load limit as well as a “follow-me” function in order to always know the location of the rescuers’ boat.
Video images even during fog and degraded weather conditions
Equipped with a thermal camera, the drone provides useful live video especially in tough conditions like foggy weather or difficult-to-access areas. Paired with its embedded GPS system, it can quickly locate the precise place where the Redningsselskapet must come into action.
Thanks to a set of technology improvements enhancing the conception and implementation of drones, it is therefore certain that the evolution of their performance and functionalities will bring an increasingly greater help by supporting sea rescue teams hard work.
Complete RTF solution: XENA Rescue
See also: Drone to rescue immigrants