Global maritime industry group Wilhelmsen Ships Service (WSS) has unveiled a plan to start delivering agency essentials to vessels via drone, with an aim to improve its customer services.

The plan includes the launch of a large-scale working pilot project later this year, which is due to take place at an undisclosed port.

The company noted that the project will be carried out despite the stringent global aviation restrictions currently in place regarding drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles.

WSS Ships Agency business solutions and marketing vice-president Marius Johansen said: “Whether it is deliveries of critical documents or vital medical supplies, tank inspections, or monitoring cargo and stockpile levels, we believe semi-autonomous drone flights can support and further enhance what our ships agency team can offer our customers.

"Whether it is deliveries of critical documents or vital medical supplies, we believe semi-autonomous drone flights can support what our ships agency team can offer our customers."

“Relied upon by owners, operators, vessels and crew to get spare parts, medicine, documents, or cash to master where it needs to be at moment’s notice, drone delivery is a natural extension of our existing agency service portfolio.”

The company has said delivering essentials to vessels at anchorage in this manner is expected to reduce time and cost. A typical delivery carried out with launch vessels costs around $1,500, while a drone delivery would potentially cost as little as $150.

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Wilhelmsen is currently conducting operations in 2,200 locations globally and serves various merchant vessel fleets with products and services, in addition to supplying crew members and technical management for some of the most complex vessels worldwide.

Image: A drone flying with a delivery package. Photo: courtesy of Wilh Wilhelmsen Holding ASA (WWH).