International maritime search exercise to factor in the use of UAVs

An aerial view of Hiiumaa, the second largest island in Estonia

An international maritime rescue exercise is due to take place mid-August on the northern coast of Hiiumaa islands, off Estonia

The exercise, titled ‘Hiiu SAR 2019’, will, for the first time, incorporate the role of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) in search and rescue (SAR) missions at sea, including inspecting the rescue area, relaying information to the SAR team via a video link and transporting rescue equipment.

"Using unmanned air vehicles in the maritime rescue exercise will give us an opportunity to improve our awareness of the factors that need to be taken into account at sea, on land and in the air in order to make the best use of the potential of unmanned aircraft in rescue activities," Maria Tamm, Project Co-ordinator for GOF U-space at the Estonian Air Navigation Services, said. 

The exercise will also provide feedback on existing technical solutions, which will provide valuable information for the further development of UAVs for rescue missions in Estonia and internationally.

Kaupo Laanerand, Head of the Fleet of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, added: "We need to be prepared for all types of accidents as incidents at sea are time sensitive. An accident with many casualties taking place in a large area requires a lot of resources, as well as efficient support from the shore. Co-operation and smooth exchange of information are crucial in such cases, and this time, too, we will include all domestic partners as well as a Finnish maritime rescue unit."