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Coast guard to use drones for the first time this weekend

Image credit: DT

The coast guard has said it will deploy drones in its search and rescue operations starting from this weekend.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said drones should help to boost its missions by visiting rescue sites ahead of air, sea or land-based recovery teams to provide a full picture of the situation and develop the appropriate response.

It also said it was looking into using drones for routine operations and for purposes such as countering pollution.

They will be launched this weekend from Caernarfon, North Wales, and will carry out safety patrols across beaches from Conwy Bay to Llandudno, and across Snowdonia.

The aircraft developed by Bristow Group will initially only be flown at weekends as part of a trial.

Maritime minister Kelly Tolhurst said: “We will stop at nothing to keep people safe on our shores and in our seas, exploring new and innovative ways to further bring search and rescue into the 21st century.

“Drones have the potential to help our coastguard teams help save even more lives, so I’m excited we’re pioneering these advances in the UK.”

Director of HM Coastguard Claire Hughes said: “Search and rescue is about saving lives. Every second counts and every minute saved can prove the difference between life and death.

“This kind of technology has a big part to play in those moments alongside our helicopters, coastguard rescue teams and our partners from the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) to independent lifeboats and hovercraft.”

In May, a trial was launched to deliver vital medical supplies such as PPE and coronavirus test kits via drone to the remote Argyll and Bute islands off the west coast of Scotland.

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