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Consequences of launching a drone from a vessel in the Suez Canal

A member has reported an incident in which the Suez Canal Authority has recently detained a vessel following the launch of a drone to photograph the vessel proceeding through the Suez Canal. During the Suez Canal Authorities (SCA’s) subsequent inspection, they confiscated the drone and its memory card andthe vessel was detained in anticipation of further investigations by the Egyptian authorities.


Although the intention when launching the drone was simply to document the vessel proceeding through the Suez Canal, the use of the drone may have been considered a threat to national security by the Egyptian authorities.

Our member’s recommendation was that drones and unmanned aircrafts should not be used in port or sailing within a country’s territorial waters except for official reasons and with agreed permission of the authorities and company.

Members will note that the developing drone technology can be used for illegal purposes as well as for valid commercial purposes. There are currently no common or international rules governing the use of drones. Regulations concerning the use of drones differ from one country to another and failure to comply with any given legislation may lead to a criminal prosecution. Members are recommended to be fully aware of, and comply with, any local regulations concerning the use of drones and unmanned aircraft in countries where their operations are taking place.

Safety Event

Published: 3 October 2016
Download: IMCA SF 25/16

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