International drone patrol to help monitor Estonia's maritime area

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The Schiebel CAMCOPTER S-100 unmanned drone. Source: PPA

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) will use a Schiebel CAMCOPTER S-100 unmanned aerial vehicle of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to guard the Estonian maritime border, perform search and rescue task and monitor the sea for pollution in April and in May.

Marge Kohtla, head of the maritime security group at the PPA, said the drone offers an excellent opportunity for monitoring the maritime area, serving as an addition to the existing maritime surveillance system, vessels of the PPA, smaller water craft, and aircraft.

"We will use the EMSA drone to complement the maritime situation picture, detect potential violations and cross-border crimes, identify maritime pollution and potential polluters, and search for people in distress," Kohtla said.  

The real-time image provided by the drone will be relayed to the maritime surveillance center and vessels of the Police and Border Guard Board performing patrol duties.

The drone will be in Estonia for two months, in April and in May, and it will be based on the island of Hiiumaa.  

Last year, when the drone was being used by the Finnish border guard, staff at the maritime surveillance center of the PPA and crews of patrol ships received real-time video image offering an overview of developments in the Gulf of Finland more broadly.

"Our cooperation was seamless, and now, when the drone is in Estonia, we are planning to continue such cooperation with nearby countries," Kohtla said, adding that maritime surveillance information is to be shared with colleagues in Finland, Latvia and Sweden.

European Union member states, member states of the European Free Trade Association and institutions of the EU can apply to EMSA to provide different unmanned platforms to help perform coast guard functions.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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