The Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) and Netherlands Coast Guard are deploying drones to check lashings on board container ships. In 2022, 44 container ships were checked in this new way. Violations were found on eleven ships.

To inspect container ships at sea, an ILT drone team sails along on board a Coast Guard vessel. Thanks to this cooperation, the deployment of a helicopter is no longer necessary.

‘The Coast Guard is very pleased with the cooperation between the ILT’s Aero-sensing drone team and the Coast Guard,’ says Deputy Chief of Operations Netherlands Coast Guard, Jan Christiaanse. ‘The Coast Guard’s Emergency Response Towing Vessels (ERTVs), which are already present at sea, can perfectly serve as a platform for drones like those of the ILT. This will ensure effective and efficient surveillance at sea.’

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During the drone inspections, potential deficiencies were found on 21 container ships. As a result, ILT inspectors boarded thirteen vessels at the port. Violations were found on eleven of those thirteen container ships. The violations involved failure to secure or improperly secured containers, known as lashing, or the cargo computer did not meet requirements.

Eight ships could not be checked at the port, for example because they were in transit.

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Drone inspections continue in 2023

ILT director Karin Visser is very pleased with this “new” way of checking: ‘Using drones is very effective. It allows us to observe violations while the container ship continues to sail. The crew is then not disturbed in their work and we can carry out targeted checks this way. We launched a pilot in 2021 and it proved successful, which is why we used drones again in 2022.’

In 2023, the ILT will continue checking container ships.

Picture: The Multraship Protector, a Coast Guard emergency rescue tug, was used for the drone checks (photo: Netherlands Coast Guard).

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