Five Norwegian Coast Guard ships will soon be equipped with drones equipped with radiation detectors as standard. The measure was taken due to concerns about the increasing number of nuclear ships and floating nuclear power plants in international waters around Norway. The drones can be used to measure the spread of radioactive substances in the event of a nuclear incident at sea.

Nuclear activities

In the international waters surrounding Norway and in the Arctic region, nuclear powered freighters, icebreakers and submarines, particularly from Russia, are being sailed increasingly. In addition, there is the development of floating nuclear power plants and nuclear installations at the North Pole. However, many of these ships and installations are becoming obsolete.

In Norway, a large part of the population lives on the coast, so a nuclear disaster at sea would have major consequences. In the event of an incident, it is not inconceivable that many Norwegians are exposed to radioactive substances, especially when the wind is in the direction of the coast. The danger is not fictional: in August 2019, a radiation incident involving a Russian weapons system occurred in the southern part of the White Sea east of Norway, in which several deaths were killed.

Taking measurements at sea

In order to quickly obtain a good picture of the spread of radioactive particles in the event of a nuclear incident, the Coast Guard will use drones that are equipped with radiation detectors. To this end, the Coast Guard has entered into a partnership with the Navy and the Norwegian Nuclear Safety Agency. Last October, a team from this organization practiced measuring radiation by means of drones in the US.

The drones complement the fixed detectors set up on the coast. Once there is a suspicion of a nuclear incident, the drones can be sent over the suspicious area from a safe distance to take measurements. The drones can also be used during rescue missions and for carrying out inspections.

First test

The ships with the drones on board patrol both the North Sea and the Barents Sea. In May this year, detection systems will be tested for the first time during an exercise at Bodø, in northern Norway.

(Source: The Barents Observer)