Gard warns industry of the use of drones

Insurance firm Gard P&I has warned vessel operators about the use of drones in the maritime industry.

Gard said that an unnamed vessel was recently detained following the launch of a drone to photograph the vessel proceeding through the Suez Canal.

Shortly after the drone had been launched from a vessel transiting the Suez Canal, the ship’s master was requested by the canal authorities (SCA) to drop anchor.

During the SCA’s subsequent inspection, they confiscated the drone and its memory card and the vessel was, “detained in anticipation of further investigations by the Egyptian authorities.”

“There are currently no common or international rules governing the use of drones,” the note from Gard stated. “According to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), basic national safety rules apply but these differ from one country to another. Nevertheless, just like any other aircraft, a drone must always be flown in a safe manner, both with respect to other aircraft in the air and also to people and property on the ground.”

Drones are being increasingly used in the maritime industry for a variety of tasks from surveillance to deliveries, however they have also been used for illegal purposes and there are fears that drones could be used as weapons.

“Although the intention when launching the drone was simply to document the vessel proceeding through the Suez Canal, this ‘innocent act’ may have been considered a threat to national security by the Egyptian Military Forces,” the company warned.

“The use of drones is likely to continue to increase, also in the maritime industry, but users must adhere to local regulations and restrictions on their use at all times,” Gard concluded.