Measurement of Sulphur limits by drone

San Simón & Duch has had the opportunity to defend the interests of a shipowner whose vessel had been detained by the Captaincy of Algeciras due to the measurement – apparently the first – made by a drone to its emissions, which showed that they exceeded the Sulphur contents limits established by MARPOL.

The initiative of the use of drones in the Strait of Gibraltar has come from the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (Mitma), in collaboration with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the General Directorate of the Merchant Navy, which conducted a pilot project in the Strait of Gibraltar to test the usefulness and effectiveness of the use of drones in the control of emissions of polluting gases into the atmosphere from ships.

Our experience, after the processing and completion of the sanctioning proceedings initiated against the shipowner has shown that the control of emissions carried out by the drone has not been very effective, as it is still not very reliable, since the measurements of the device have some standard deviations that seem not very accurate, and the margin between the upper limit and the lower limit may depend, no less, on whether the ship can be sanctioned or not. In our case, when contrasting the results with those carried out in a specialized laboratory on the gas oil extracted, it was shown that the same was legally permitted, so the procedure has been closed as there is no purpose in continuing with it.