Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) is ready to survey ships and offshore facilities by means of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).
This remote inspection technique may benefit shipowner’s expenses. The procedure of drone inspection has been developed with due regard to the International Association of Classification Societies recommendations and provided in the Guidelines on Technical Supervision of Ships in Service (Annex 39).
According to the Rules for the Classification Surveys of Ships in Service shipowners shall ensure all the necessary conditions for quality and safe survey. Structure inspection may require special arrangements, such as scaffoldings, lifts and movable platforms, boats or rafts. Globally, preparing a ship for a survey inevitably leads to temporary removal from service and additional expenses.
Today, the international maritime industry expects unmanned aerial vehicles not only to increase the surveyor’s safety level, but also to minimize survey workload and costs. Drones are capable of inspecting hard-to-reach elements of offshore platform topsides, cargo space and ballast tanks of large capacity vessels as well as of revealing hull structure damage, such as holes, residual deformation, detachments, cracks, peeling off.
The challenge of remote survey is the motion control of the drones and their capability to hover in rough wind conditions. A dedicated R&D project helped to identify particular technical features of the unmanned aerial vehicles and to assess risks. Currently the RS drones are equipped with gyrostabilized camera providing for real-time image and photography.
The remote inspections are available from four RS branch offices: Arkhangelsk, Murmansk, Astrakhan and the Far East wh ere surveyors passed the relevant training. The remote inspection is carried out by two people: operator steers and controls the drone whereas surveyor inspects structures from a tablet PC and records damages.
“RS objective is to keep enhancing our Rules in terms of up-to-date technical developments, to add value to the industry assets along with our mission to promote the standards for the safety of navigation, safe carriage of goods, environmental protection. Shaping up the confidence of the shipowners we strive to develop the best solutions for the operational efficiency of commercial fleet”, said RS Director General Konstantin Palnikov.