Security the invisible enemy & flat-pack panic

The world of superyacht security has changed significantly in recent years and essentially, is an integral part of superyacht design, and most effective when incorporated at build stage.

Cyber threats – the invisible enemy

Even with the world’s most high-tech security measures in place, some superyacht owners still leave themselves exposed to an even more unscrupulous, targeted and aggressive security attack. It seems superyacht owners and crew can be extremely inefficient when it comes to addressing another real, yet often overlooked threat to superyacht owners: cyber security. Worryingly, many of these attacks often happen without anyone being aware.

Panic room layout

Flat-pack panic

Superyachts visiting destinations solely for recreational purposes require different approaches in security planning. When it comes to hardware, there are plenty of security options from yard-fitted devices to handheld specialist equipment. Steve Brook is the business development director for The Panic Room Company. They manufacture and install panic rooms, using flat-pack assembly techniques, inside well-protected areas on superyachts. He explains, “Shortly after we established our company, we identified interest from the superyacht industry. 

Panic room on display

Our portable product has immense appeal as it is quickly installed with no welding and minimal need for specialist equipment or training. It also offers ballistic and blast protection and can keep between two and 24 people safe for up to five days with ship-to-shore communication. An independent power supply, air filtration, the ability to activate a smoke screen and basic survival essentials from fresh water to toilets can also be provided.”

Paparazzi peril

For high profile superyacht guests, it is the camera flash that infringes their security.

Paul Kerr of Photonic Security Systems has, with the aid of others, developed the SMU-100 system. It emits a dazzling wall of light and allows security teams or crew using it to harmlessly engage potential inbound threats at a distance and to interrogate them.

Resembling a rifle, the laser can dazzle and incapacitate targets up to 500m away with a wall of light up to three metres squared, and even has an infrared scope to spot infiltrators in poor visibility. Looking at the intense beam causes a short-lived effect similar to staring at the sun, forcing the target to turn away. Paul Kerr, a former Royal Marine says, “Using the device temporarily impairs the vision of the paparazzi and keeps them out of their camera range without causing physical injury while doing so.”

Photonic rifle

Secure Yacht specialises in technologically advanced security concepts geared for the protection of superyachts, their owners and the assets on board. They liaise directly with naval architects and shipyards during the design and build process and can retrofit specialist security equipment when dealing with an existing vessel. Director Dean La Vey confirms, “I have fitted biometric security devices aboard several superyachts. I do so linking specialist biometric readers to my own proprietary Net2 Marine, a computer networked access control system that is exceptionally quick and easy to learn and operate.”

Unwelcome guests

While physical security protection measures are important, many superyacht owners are increasingly aware of seemingly more mundane security threats such as robbery. John Hodder heads up his own firm called Cattewater Projects. He said, “We are frequently asked to analyse the extra security risks of carrying valuable art on board, and to recommend ways of reducing risk of theft or damage using additional or improved security.” According to John, one common problem is that of pan and tilt CCTV cameras. John explains that these are often left wrongly aligned, and he recommends replacing them with fixed versions. These then monitor valuable art using discreet security systems, employing miniature electronic devices affixed to frames or display cases, to allow remote satellite tracking if removed.

Panic room ballistics

Security shortcomings

In a bid to highlight some superyacht security shortcomings, one company told SYOG, “We regularly test the boarding security employed on superyachts. We have never yet been detected doing so. A member of our team then places printed red cards inside owners’ areas or the engine room, to let crew know someone uninvited has been aboard.” On one yacht, in Turkey, they took the owner’s 9mm pistol from his suite, returning it to him at his home the next day simply to demonstrate how insecure his yacht really was.

The world of superyacht security has changed significantly in recent years and essentially, is an integral part of superyacht design, and most effective when incorporated at build stage.

Piracy nightmares aside, it is the threat of attack or theft in port and at anchor that remain the most likely security breaches a superyacht will suffer. These scenarios cause the largest concerns to owners and captains alike, and it is these areas that generally require the most attention to detail.

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