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Maritime Drones Undertake More Tasks

We may think of unmanned aerial vehicles/drones as being the deliverers of Hellfire missiles to terrorists, but they do much more than that. The drone business is booming. And the marine industry is discovering more and more uses for drones. Offshore wind-farms, cruise lines, container shippers, tanker shippers, shore-to-ship package couriers, insurers, classification societies, ports and the military are all getting into the game of using drones. Big or small, drones are starting to do it all. They can be used to deliver paperwork at port, do aerial inspections of ships and offshore facilities, and check out a suspicious ship before a military boarding party approaches. As well, they can be used to help search and rescue responders, monitor oil spills, and search ship interiors if there is toxic gas or smoke. They can map coastal areas, monitor whale movements, check out weather patterns – and of course they can be used for illegal purposes too, like moving contraband. The underwater (UUVs) versions are becoming increasingly sophisticated as well, and are being used for exploration, mapping, searching for airplane wreckage, monitoring fishing populations, etc. The legal and regulatory frameworks for their use may not yet have caught up, but their potential is enormous. It would be interesting to find out what the Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard are doing in terms of UAV/UUV adoption. For more discussion of the maritime use of drones, see Jonathan Aikin, “Aerial Drones Take Flight in Maritime,” at


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