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Sniffer drone deployed over Strait of Dover to measure ships' emissions

Sniffer drone deployed over Strait of Dover to measure ships’ emissions

France’s Ministry of the Sea is deploying a sniffer drone in the Pas-de-Calais region, bordering the Strait of Dover, which is the world’s busiest area for ship movements, to tighten control of ship emissions.

Sniffer drone deployed over Strait of Dover to measure ships’ emissions

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has made the sniffer drone available to the French government.

The drone sniffing operations have started on September 23rd and will continue for three months.

The drone flights take off from the Regional Surveillance and Rescue Operational Center (CROSS) Gris-Nez. The center also serves as a logistical base and coordinates follow-up on the flights.

The sniffer drone will fly above the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme, which is part of the North Sea Sulfur Emission Control Area (SECA). Tighter pollution monitoring rules apply in this area. Here, ships cannot use fuel with a sulfur concentration higher than 0.1% whereas in other areas the limitation is set at 0.5%.

Sniffer drone deployed over Strait of Dover to measure ships' emissions

The information collected from the drone (sulfur concentration, images, flight trajectory, and gas measurements) will be transmitted in real-time and recorded in EMSA’s RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) data center, according to Marine Log. The data center is connected to THETIS-EU, a European database used by authorities around Europe responsible for ship inspections.

If the sniffer drone emission measurements indicate a breach of the concentration limit, a follow-up ship inspection is likely to take place at the next port of call. EU member states are informed of these breaches to facilitate coordination of ship inspections.

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