Man Overboard Situations. When Distance Does Not Matter

How do we get help to potential drowning victims in man-overboard scenarios when distance, speed and maneuverability matters?
Check this out. Thoughts?


This looks like it would be way more fun.

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Line throwing guns are not by any means perfect but they don’t require batteries and we can carry four of them for presumably less cost than this thing.

Cool idea though.


What’s up with the title “distance does not matter” but it only has 10 meters of line?

A drone might be useful to launch and send back along the track-line to search or dropping a buoy might be useful but sending a line seems to put sharp limits on the range.

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Beach fisherman have been using this concept for a while. I don’t see it as a viable MOB tool.

That’s awesome. However when a life in concerned and scenario is situational, it is less fun when there’s the possibility of losing a life. How do you reel your victim back to shore? By a fishing rod?

Yes. But the footage of line is limitless. The video was to prove the concept. You can have as much length of line you want and need…a 1mile line? Sure…

Line throwing guns do not deploy rescue rope. Line throwing guns are only used for multi moveable anchor points. Like reaching across banks. They are wires and not suitable or recommended for saving victims.

There are no limits to how much line you need or can use. I have a continuous 1miler!! Yes a lifeline/rescue rope that long is all we need.

Yes, I see. It could very well be useful in a ship recovery situation to get a line over but I can’t envision a mile. More likely the ship would manuver much closer then that.

I am not a drone expert but what about the weight and drag of the line, both of which will increase with the distance traveled. A drone is depending on a battery and has therefore limited power resources. A strong gale type of wind will influence the speed in a negative way, also the line drag will increase dramatically which will depend on the relative wind direction.

I know drones are used in transmission line construction but these are rather huge drones with lots of power on board.

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Many issues. Need trained drone operator - not always available. Batteries must be charged on drone. The farther out the victim is, the heavier the drone’s load to drag the line out. What is the limit? Picture the victim ~300 meters out. Can the drone operator judge when to trigger the drop to land that float/buoy near the victim? (I suppose if the drone has video, but what if visibility is poor?) I believe that surf lifeguards are using drones at some beaches these days, but for shipboard use? What would the deployment time be? Etc.

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How large and powerful a drone must be to fly against some 20 knots of wind, towing a line, a mile long, of a useful diameter for the person in the sea?
(On the leeside of the ship, a floating line, with a high-windage float, would sail on its own to the destination…)


  • The windage of the line out of water?
  • The friction of the line in the water?
  • The shocks in the line from the waves?
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You forgot “in pouring rain, at night” too. Unless it’s all weather capable, IMO/SOLAS and USCG will never approve it for lifesaving equipment.



Exactly sir. Well a mile might be pushing it. You however get the picture…But i agree in a ship recovery situation, it will be perfect

I have personal experience with operations involving flying photography drones off a 65’ long steel hulled boat on the Salish Sea. I’d have to say flying drones off a vessel for manoverboard recovery operations is highly impractical.

  1. You’d need a highly experienced operator. The operators I work with are great, but even they have problems at times, especially when recovering the drone.

  2. The drone that could contend with high winds, rain, and payload would be enormous. It would need its own landing pad, like a helo pad. But the difference is, most ships don’t have a helo on their pad ready to go 24/7, and all the maintenance/cost that entails.

  3. The drone’s navigation systems would need to be customized for use on a vessel at sea. One of the problems with drones is that they use magnetic compasses to navigate and orient themselves. Once they get within a few feet of a steel deck or mast they lose control. Their ultrasonic sensors detect rolling decks and swaying masts, causing the drone to behave like a skittish cat on take off and landing. These are technical problems that can worked out, but the cost for the drone now skyrockets because it is for “marine use”.

  4. If you want an all-weather drone with a useful payload capability and a competent operator available 24/7, at what point do you simply hire a real helicopter and pilot? And all this for an emergency which will likely never occur, and if does occur will likely be solved by traditional methods.


That pretty much sums it up. Totally impractical and when you need it the battery is probably empty and must be charged before it can take off. You can also forget about nighttime operation.

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If I fall off the boat - do NOT be screwing around with a drone. Just come back, the first wave that lands on the drone while you get it out of the hatch will kill it anyway.

A company in NZ is using large drones for Agricultural spraying. The drone carries 25 kg of spray and because it flies lower than a helicopter the downdraft spreads the spray very effectively. In continuous use requires 16 lithium batteries using 4 at a time. The drone can be programmed to spray a targeted object. Wilding pine is a pest in New Zealand’s hill country and the drone is being used to control this species. I could not see the drone being deployed at sea except in a military situation even though it is possible that it could be possible to program the drone to recognise a a person in the water and return and land automatically.

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