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Drones for multipurpose maritime surveillance deployed in the Strait of Gibraltar

Nordic Unmanned becomes the first drone operator to have four simultaneous Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) deployments in Europe.

Nordic Unmanned is under contract to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to assist the Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (Ministerio de Transportes, Movilidad y Agenda Urbana) with conducting multipurpose maritime surveillance in the Strait of Gibraltar. The campaign will include the monitoring of sulphur oxide (SOx) and nitric oxide (NOx) emissions and assisting in Search & Rescue operations for the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency (SASEMAR) as needed.

The operation in Spain will be conducted in the area around the Strait of Gibraltar, whose waters are busy with considerable amounts of large and medium-sized vessels, notably oil tankers and freighters. The Estrecho de Gibraltar (Strait of Gibraltar) is one of the busiest maritime areas in the world and only 15km wide at its most narrow point, separating Africa from Europe. This is the fourth simultaneous Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operation conducted by Nordic Unmanned in Europe.

“Our customers see the value of having frequent data delivered through daily operations. Our BVLOS operations allows critical decision makers to have the latest and most detailed information. It is with great satisfaction that we can now share that we are currently operating four BVLOS drone operations in Europe. We are proud to be working with such a forward-leaning authority as EMSA in providing the Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda with cutting-edge drone services.”

Knut Roar Wiig, CEO at Nordic Unmanned

The drone operation, using the CAMCOPTER S-100, registers potential violations of IMO regulations. The onboard sniffer samples a plume from the exhaust of the vessel in transit and measures if the sulphur content is higher than the allowed concentration of 0.5%. Indications of non-compliance made by this emission control service may trigger an inspection at the next port of call to verify whether an infringement has taken place. From 1 January 2025 the Mediterranean Sea will become a Sulphur Emission Control Area, limiting the allowed sulphur content in marine fuels to 0.1%.


Nordic Unmanned is global leader of high-end products and services related to drones and data capture. Through worldwide operational experience and industry-leading expertise, Nordic Unmanned supports large governmental and industrial clients in the adaption of unmanned systems and services.

Founded in 2014, the Group has offices in Sandnes, Oslo, Molde, Odense (DK), Cranfield (UK) and Arnsberg (GER) and has quickly become one of Europe’s leading providers of unmanned systems and services, with operations across the continent. The Group is ISO 9001-2015 and certified by for the operation, maintenance, sale, design, development, and production, of unmanned systems and sensor technology. The production is also AS9100 certified. For more information visit


The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) is a decentralised agency of the EU, based in Lisbon, Portugal. EMSA serves the EU’s maritime interests for a safe, secure, green and competitive maritime sector, delivering value for member states through support for pollution prevention and response, maritime surveillance, safety and security, digitalisation and the provision of integrated maritime services, and technical assistance.

Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) services are offered free of charge to all EU countries by EMSA. They have been developed to assist in maritime surveillance operations and ship emission monitoring and can operate in all seas surrounding the European Union. RPAS services can provide support to traditional coast guard functions, including search and rescue and pollution prevention and response. The services are offered to member countries individually and as part of EMSA’s regional RPAS strategy, which allows multiple coast guard functions in several EU countries to be supported by one or more RPAS services. See where EMSA is flying.


The Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (MITMA) is the department of the Spanish Government responsible for preparing and implementing the government policy on transport infrastructures, either land, air or maritime, and the control, planning and regulation of the transport services, among other competences.

Under MITMA´s organisation, the Directorate General of the Merchant Marine (DGMM ) is the competent area for maritime safety, pollution prevention and response and maritime traffic security as well as controlling the Spanish civil fleet. Among its responsibilities are the rescue of human life at sea, the ordering and execution of technical, radioelectric, safety and pollution prevention inspections and controls, the general management of maritime navigation. This institution exercises the functions entrusted to it by the Law of State Ports and the Merchant Marine.