Drone vessel survey for ClassNK and MOL

Demonstration test by ClassNK aboard MOL coal carrier Demonstration test by ClassNK aboard MOL coal carrier, featuring DJI drone (credit: MOL)

ClassNK announced in late December it conducted a demonstration test of a ship class survey using drone technology.

ClassNK surveyors carried out a survey on a Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL)-operated coal carrier. Using camera-equipped drones, drone pilots conducted a simulated ship inspection inside the vessel’s cargo hold and ballast tank.

ClassNK confirmed that the test successfully proved the drones’ ability to monitor rust, corrosion, and the presence of cracks. The test was also intended to address concerns about the interaction of magnetic material on drone sensors (such as GPS and magnetic compass) which are closely related to flight stability.

Using drones to visually check the condition of remote structural components can significantly reduce survey times and staging costs, while at the same time improving surveyor safety. Rapid advances in drone technology are creating opportunities for new commercial applications in the ocean shipping industry.

ClassNK released its Guidelines for Use of Drones in Class Surveys in April 2018. These guidelines incorporate the applicable range and procedures for use of drones in class surveys, the technical considerations for safe operation and the requirements for drone service suppliers.

The inspection, which was also attended by representatives of Mitsui, Hitachi and MOL, formed part of ClassNK’s Survey Technology Innovation research programme, launched in 2017.

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