Fednav said it is the first shipping company to use drones to check ice conditions on the water during a commercial voyage.
The Umiak I, one of Fednav’s icebreakers, used a variety of video-equipped drones to scout ahead of the vessel in the ice-covered waters of the Labrador Coast. The goal was to provide the captain and officers with detailed, real-time visual information on the local ice conditions, the Montreal-based bulk ocean carrier said.
Enfotec, a Fednav subsidiary, has for 20 years specialized in providing advanced ice imagery and analysis to vessels operating in difficult ice conditions. With advances in recent years in the quality of information derived from satellite and radar images and conventional ice charts, this new method of ice detection allows for the immediate capture of subtle ice features such as ridges, leads and fractures.
Thomas Paterson, Fednav’s senior vice president of shipowning, arctic and projects, said in a statement that the drones are “proving to be extremely beneficial to identify many ice features that should be avoided ahead of the vessel, as well as identifying open water leads to improve voyage efficiency."