In response to a request from the Environmental Protection Department of Lithuania’s Ministry of the Environment, the European Maritime Safety Administration (EMSA) provides Lithuania with Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) services to assist in the monitoring of ship emissions, protect the marine environment and improve maritime safety.
The services which began on 23 March will run for three months using a Vertical Take-Off and Landing drone for sulphur emissions monitoring using small sniffer sensors. With the help of RPAS equipped with SOx sensors, the sulphur content in the exhaust plumes emitted by vessels travelling in the main shipping lanes and when at anchorage around the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda will be measured. This operation will be carried out in a specially designated Sulphur Emission Control Area and support the Lithuanian Environmental Protection Department to estimate the sulphur content of the fuel burnt by the vessels. The sulphur content of marine fuel in this Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) should be no greater than 0.1%
Igor Kuzmenko (OIL SPILL project expert): “Although EMSA RPAS services are mostly known for emission monitoring capabilities, the Maritime rescue coordination center of the Lithuanian NAVY is planning to collaborate actively with Environmental Protection Department of Lithuania in order to conduct additional types of maritime surveillance missions: search and rescue operations and marine pollution monitoring at sea.”
Sergej Suzdalev (OIL SPILL project coordinator at Marine research institute): “The data collected (recorded) during the drone flights can be used by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center experts for the detection and characterization (size, thickness, subparts, etc.) of potential oil spillages. This is something we are currently missing on a national level.”
RPAS services can also support response operations by monitoring the evolution of the extent of the spill. To do so, communication between all the oil spill response teams (aircraft and ships) must be maintained during the operations
Text: Igor Kuzmenko, Lithuanian NAVY