The United Kingdom has provided Parrot ANAFI unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) to the Seychelles, which will use them for coast guard duties.
The UK in Seychelles handed the UAVs over to the Seychelles Defence Force on 15 February at the Seychelles Coast Guard Station on Ile Perseverance. The ceremony was attended by high-ranking Seychellois military officials, High Commissioner Patrick Lynch, as well as specialists from the Canadian Coast Guard and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, among other invited guests.
The two UAVs were purchased in conjunction with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Lynch said the two drones will be a force multiplier for the Seychelles Defence Force (SDF) and the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG), allowing for real time surveillance of target vessels and to video activities before boarding teams engage. They will also enhance search and rescue operations including scoping inaccessible stretches of coastline.
“This is a time of great change in Seychelles, with local experts leading significant reform work across the Rule of Law sector. The United Kingdom has been very proud to be a partner in this work, most notably on Policing and Anti-Corruption. These are both areas of huge importance where the people of Seychelles should see a real democratic dividend. A reformed police service delivering safer communities and an Anti-Corruption Commission providing a real economic boost to those communities by returning criminal assets back to the people of Seychelles.
“While the threat of piracy in the Western Indian Ocean may have receded, we have become increasingly aware of the challenges posed by Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing, trafficking in people and arms, and, perhaps most damaging for Seychelles, trafficking in illicit narcotics.
“The UK is committed to working alongside Seychelles and other democratic partners, to combat these threats and to ensure the safety and security of the waters of this region,” Lynch said.
The ANAFI UAVs were specifically chosen for their suitability for maritime operations. Their lightweight and compact structure allows them to be hand-launched in under one minute from vessels at sea; a capability that the Seychelles Coast Guard does not currently have. The on-board camera possesses 32 times magnification with 4K HDR video, as well as thermal imaging capability. This ensures clear images are captured by day and night, which is vital to capture visual evidence. The ANAFI UAVs also have a longer range and endurance than the current drones that are used by the Seychelles Coast Guard.
On accepting the two UAVs, the Chief of the Seychelles Defence Forces, Brigadier Michael Rosette, stated that SDF has recognised the potential of drones, resulting in the establishment of a drone unit in 2020 under the management of the Seychelles Air Force. The unit has six other drones of different kinds and they have assisted with defence, law enforcement and disaster and humanitarian relief duties.
Rosette noted that the Drone Unit has been called upon on various occasions to assist with search and rescue operations both on land and at sea, and has successfully locate those in distress, mainly on land.