THE Los Angeles Port Police have given a presentation to the Los Angeles Harbour Department, extolling the benefits of drones for mapping and photography assignments.

The meeting was the final step in an ongoing plan to deploy the drones. The Port Police and Harbour Department already have seven such drones and have been conducting training exercises, reported New York's FreightWaves.

The US Coast Guard has already started deploying drones to inspect hard- to-access navigation markers, along with equipping its cutters with intercept drones that will aid the cause of slowing the proliferation of drugs into the US. One such drone, the ScanEagle, assisted in seizing 1,700 kilogrammes of contraband valued at US$55 million and contributed to the arrest of ten major drug traffickers.

In addition to mapping/photography assignments and security and surveillance, the port drones will be useful in search-and-rescue missions for endangered crew.

Another useful service provided by drones will be the deployment of small timely items needed onboard vessels anchored in port. These drone-drops are already in use in Singapore, which uses Skyways drones made by Airbus to deliver goods to nearby ships. Though currently these drone-drops are limited to four kilogrammes of material within a few kilometres, they speed up shore-to-ship deliveries as much as six times and cut costs by up to 90 per cent - while eliminating the risks of human-manned launch-boat deliveries.

With the start of IMO 2020 the port drones will now be utilised to sniff-out environmental violators. The sniffer-drones do their work by flying through the smoke plume of a ship and analysing how much sulphur is in the fuel in a scan that can take just two minutes.

Port authorities in Denmark, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Norway have already been testing drones that travel as far as 10 miles out to sea in order to catch offenders with tens of thousands of containerships and tankers coming and going.

Source: Schednet