Yachts are becoming more capable and owners are seeking more adventure
Superyachts have become larger and more capable vessels that can cruise to all parts of the globe. The developments in technology, including improved satellite communications, allow them to go further and for longer while being connected.
As today’s superyachts owners and their charterers prefer to cruise further afield than the regular runs to chase elusive experiences and pursue remote and exotic adventures, they inevitably, also cruise through dangerous waters and precarious circumstances at times.
Risks to the yacht, crew, owners, their families and guests include marine piracy, theft and burglary, personal attacks and abduction.
Yachts are a soft and extremely lucrative target for pirates at sea and, criminals when docked at the port, particularly due to their low freeboard, slower speeds (some superyachts can achieve maximum speeds of up to 17 knots, while the smaller and niftier pirate skiffs can run at 35 to 40 knots) and perceived high value. A yacht is an expensive asset, the crew, the owner and his family & guests, onboard are even more valuable. Their security and safety cannot be overlooked or compromised.
While at sea, marine piracy, though on the decline, is still quite a potent threat that cannot be, and should not be ignored. A look at the risk map from MAST highlights enough hotspots across the world which are high-risk areas maritime crime and piracy.
When the yacht is docked at the port, the owners, being high net worth individuals, are constantly exposed to abduction threats and other criminal activities for financial rewards. They also often carry valuable art and collections which are exposed to theft and need to be protected when the yachts are docked at ports and the owners are away for social and business reasons.
Yachts are designed as pleasure craft, they are not designed with an armed threat in mind. To protect the yacht and its occupants, it is important to know the most susceptible areas onboard and to fortify them.
Armoring a yacht is a difficult and expensive affair keeping in mind the design of the yacht, the space available and the level of sea protection required. Different areas can be secured differently. Protection can be designed with various levels of threats. While panic rooms can be secured with the highest level of protection, access points and windows might need a different level of protection.
Advanced technologies provide various ways to protect a yacht from maritime crime and pirate attacks, most essential though, is armoring critical areas within the yacht and equipping it with an armored panic room deep within the boat which can be accessed in emergency situations till help arrives.
The demand and use of panic rooms have grown in the past couple of years. Also, known as a safe room or Citadel, it serves as the last resort to escape from pirates on a yacht. In an unfortunate turn of events, if the pirates do board the yacht despite all evasive action, the occupants and the crew can be locked down in the panic room. Panic rooms are ideally made in a watertight, lockable section of the yacht (not the bridge). They should be resistant to firearms and fitted with separate ventilation systems and communication channels to communicate with the outside world. They should have controls to switch off the main and auxiliary engines and should be stocked with extra supplies of food, water, and first aid.
According to quite a few reports of vessels at sea being attacked by pirates, in most cases where these piracy attempts have been foiled, the crew retreated to a safe room and called for help. When the pirates realise they can’t get to the crew or sail the boat, they give up and flee the scene.
It should be kept in mind that panic rooms are practical only if help is just a few hours away. Pirates have been known to besiege panic rooms for days, before either breaking in or setting fire to the vessel. It is always a good idea to hire a good marine security agency. Pirates normally look at potential targets from long distances, if they notice armed men in body armour and helmets they will know that the yacht has armed security and will probably not take the risk of taking them on.
A panic room layout idea. View more to click here
Glass structures and windows
Yachts are generally designed for recreation and exotic experiences and as such yacht designers use a lot of glass in their design. It would be a good idea to replace them with high-quality ballistic glass, also known as transparent armour, to secure the boat and peace of mind.
Critical areas on the boat
In the unfortunate event of a security breach on a yacht when at the port, there are certain critical zones within the yacht that should remain elusive to criminals including the bridge, the owner’s cabin or safes/vaults with valuable cargo, it is in best interests to secure such areas within the yacht with armor so that they cannot be accessed cheaply.
Composite armoring - Military-grade protection for yachts
Armoring critical areas of a luxury yacht is challenging due to the complex geometries inside the structure. Space is fully optimized, designs are extremely contemporary and finishes, ultra-luxurious. Armour has to completely merge and integrate within the design and the theme while complying with strict technical requirements in terms of structural strength, weight ratios and other performance parameters. It needs to be optimized to provide protection against a wide range of threats as these yachts travel to various destinations across the world.
Composite armour allows more efficient design configurations as it can be tailor-made in soft, rigid and transparent configurations, either alone or in combination. This helps solution designers to overcome the challenges and design it in a manner that it integrates into challenging areas with complex geometries within the yacht for uncompromised protection. Compared to ballistic steel it offers better structural strength to weight ratio and can be finished in various profiles and finishes to seamlessly merge into the luxurious interiors and thematic of the vessel.
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