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Drones to be used for coastguard operations for first time

Drones will carry out safety patrols across beaches from Conwy Bay to Llandudno, and across Snowdonia.

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Handout photo issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency showing a helicopter with a drone (MCA/PA)

Handout photo issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency showing a helicopter with a drone (MCA/PA)

Handout photo issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency showing a helicopter with a drone (MCA/PA)

Drones will be deployed in UK coastguard search-and-rescue operations for the first time this weekend.

Unmanned aircraft will be launched from Caernarfon, North Wales, to support maritime and mountain missions, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said.

The drones will carry out safety patrols across beaches from Conwy Bay to Llandudno, and across Snowdonia.

They will also relay footage of incidents to enable staff to select the most suitable response.

This will enable helicopter crew to remain on the ground until required.

The aircraft developed by Bristow Group will initially only be flown at weekends as part of a trial.

Maritime minister Kelly Tolhurst said: “We will stop at nothing to keep people safe on our shores and in our seas, exploring new and innovative ways to further bring search and rescue into the 21st century.

“Drones have the potential to help our coastguard teams help save even more lives, so I’m excited we’re pioneering these advances in the UK.”

Director of HM Coastguard Claire Hughes said: “Search and rescue is about saving lives. Every second counts and every minute saved can prove the difference between life and death.

“This kind of technology has a big part to play in those moments alongside our helicopters, coastguard rescue teams and our partners from the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) to independent lifeboats and hovercraft.”

PA