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In recent years a great deal of effort has been invested in securing superyacht assets and most importantly the personal safety of those on board. Maritime security companies have made great strides in developing security equipment; from robot drones to turning the superyacht itself into a solid self-containing safe house.
Maritime security is a global issue that manifests itself through the IMO’s, SOLAS, ISPS, and STCW requirements and security is just as important now as it ever was.
Just like a safe room in a home, a citadel is equipped with several days' worth of food, outfitted with ballistic walls and doors and can send alarms to law enforcement.
However Marine Armor Systems, a Spanish-based firm has taken this one step further. They offer a turnkey security solution that converts the superyacht itself into a solid, almost impenetrable bunker where crew and valuable items would be protected in just 10 seconds.
The cost of fitting a turnkey security system like the above varies hugely depending on the size of the superyacht and whether it’s a new build or not.
State-of-the-art security drones that are suitable at sea and can integrate with existing systems are now being used on board luxury yachts. These drones have security equipment installed such as thermal, telescopic and FLIR imaging and high definition radar, all of which are capable of plotting high-speed targets.
Leon De Swardt from Scope Maritime Solutions, which supplies superyachts with marine drones commented, “The marinized drone is integrated with a yacht’s existing AIS, the system will enable the identification of a threat at a safe distance through the use of the drone’s imaging capabilities. The imaging is passed directly to the vessel and becomes a detailed video recording of the event. The drone can be programmed to circle the threat, which will be at least disconcerting to attackers and then sound an alarm that has the capability to distract and/or disorientate the attackers. At anchor, the system can maintain a pro-active safety and security zone around the vessel.”
A robot security drone/marine drone can cost anywhere from £8,500 for a basic model to £40,000 for a full-spec model.
The main advantages of thermal imaging on a yacht is the increased visibility at night without the need of lighting. This makes thermal cameras perfect for surveillance and anti-piracy.
Fiona Pankhurst from Flir Systems commented, “An impending “blip” on a superyacht’s radar screen may mean a pirate threat. Thermal imaging allows you to see vessels on the horizon and provides you with the time to make a potentially lifesaving decision.”
A high-resolution thermal imager can cost anything from £8,000 to £20,000.
One of the major concerns of superyacht captains and their yacht security officers is unlawful access to the interior of the ship. In order to provide total security throughout the yacht, marine security specialists are looking to the one key that cannot be lost, stolen, forged, transferred or hacked, the human fingerprint.
Registering and de-registering individuals takes seconds and can be done on entry to the yacht usually at the passerelle, it is at this point access permissions can be given to those boarding. Key individuals, for example the owner, captain, chief engineer and any security officer will need fast, easy access to all areas. Guests will require the same ease of access to appropriate areas but not navigation or technical areas.
If an individual is not authorised to enter a door or area the system will refuse entry. A record of refused entries is logged together with the identity of the individual. The system is also configured to flash an alert at repeated refused access attempts.
A custom reader can cost from £500 to £1,300.
Long-range-acoustic-hailing-devices, more commonly known as LRAD, enable vessels to hail, notify and warn approaching vessels at significant ranges with clear voice or pre-recorded messages in any language.
LRAD is a powerful deterrent and helps prevent pirate attacks. The devices generate focused acoustic energy to ensure voice commands are unmistakably heard and understood by ships that don't respond to your radio calls and help create large standoff zones around a superyacht
Long-range-acoustic-hailing Devices will cost between £14,000 and £27,000.
Securewest International went on to tell Yachting Pages, "The new season in the Mediterranean looks to be unpredictable with the ongoing migrant crisis presenting challenges to superyachts cruising in the region. Early indications suggest growing numbers of migrants will again attempt to cross into Europe.
"Superyachts need to stay vigilant and it's essential they plan accordingly, developing and rehearsing operational procedures and actions to be taken if they encounter migrants. To assist in this, Securewest has already conducted a number of planning workshops with clients. If the correct precautions are taken, superyachts can be confident they are well prepared for a trouble-free journey."
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