Client: Montreal-based bulk cargo carrier operator, CSL

Client challenge

One of CSL’s self-unloading bulk carriers was due a close-up survey as part of its intermediate survey. The client was not due to go to dry dock until 2021 but our surveyors needed access to the cargo holds, usually requiring a cherry-picker or scaffolding and staging. This disrupts business operations and has inherent safety implications for our surveyors such as working from height and enclosed space entry.

How we helped

We combined our technical expertise with drone technology to conduct a close-up survey of CSL’s vessel, keeping it on the water so it had limited impact on its operations and resources, saving the customer time and money.

By having an LR-approved drone operator onboard, in partnership with our surveyor, we used the drone’s accessibility to examine hard to reach areas of the vessel whilst still retaining the arm’s length requirement of a close-up survey. The drone was able to capture high-quality imagery, directed by the drone operator, to complete the visual inspection without the need to set foot off the deck.

To do this, we provided CSL with an LR approved list of drone operators to choose from and worked closely with our Classification Committee and the Bahamas Flag to get approval to carry out a drone-assisted class survey.

There are some elements of a close-up inspection which still currently require manual intervention, such as thickness measurement. For this survey, it was possible to take readings from areas that were more easily accessible by ladder, or from the bottom section of the hull.

While remote surveys aren’t always the answer to everything, they can ensure that there are fewer attendances on a vessel and a reduction in the number of interventions that may be required through the year. This is a huge advantage for owners and operators and has significant benefits for LR’s surveyors.


This drone-assisted survey was quick and avoided the need for expensive scaffolding and staging so CSL’s self-unloader was back in operation in record time. It also enabled our surveyor to assess the asset’s condition from a safe distance.