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Protecting the sea-farers in the pirate infested waters

07/09/2017 by Manish Khandelwal

 

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In the past few years, the danger of sea piracy has burgeoned to a great extent. Its threat is not limited to any specific sea area or zone. In fact, the piracy threat has spread to nearly every region of the world. Almost every day the prime time news reports occurrence of pirate attacks. Whether it is a vessel raid or a ship hijack, maritime threat is on an all-time high. In such situations, sometimes the crew and the naval vessel can get exposed to threats of life and property. These days, pirates are not only raiding big merchant vessels but also the luxury yachts of businessmen and celebrities, as the latter are easy targets for the pirates and criminals to hijack the yachts and hold the occupants at ransom.

The increasing maritime threat has made marine protection and surveillance for both vessels and crew indispensable. Though vigilance, good surveillance, evasive action and ensuring safety best practices can serve as decent solutions for merchant ships to thwart piracy attempt, they are not foolproof. This is because despite these solutions, there are still many challenges for sea-faring ships and mega yachts from pirates and criminals such as smugglers.

To begin with, crew members on merchant ships are mostly not trained to fight or confront a piracy attempt. In fact, most of them do not even carry weapons to protect themselves and retaliate. Though, some maritime companies have deployed armed guards for protection in high seas, it is still not an industry wide practice. However, in order to fight sea piracy earnestly, the measures to ensure safety of crew members, protection of assets and cargo need to be put into place.

These measures can be brought to life by armouringparticular vulnerable zones on merchant vessel, such as the captain’s deck, communication bridge and crew compartment areas, for ensuring ballistic protection against ammunition threats from high-caliber rifles and machine guns. Likewise, transportation boats or the small vessels such as patrolling, interceptor and reconnaissance boats of law enforcement agencies too need ballistic protection as they are increasingly being exposed to ammunition threats.

Just as important is the protection for the ships in high seas, it is also important for the small naval vessels such as fast patrol and interceptor boats of law enforcement agencies to be equipped with ballistic armour for protection from ammunition threats. As these fast patrol boats are used to engage with criminals such as terrorists and smugglers in coastal areas and river bodies by the law enforcement agencies, these vessels are prone to be fired upon by the criminals with heavy machine guns and shoulder mounted missiles. Hence, it is important to protect the vulnerable areas such as the wheel house, engine room, fuel storage and crew resting areas need to be reinforced with ballistic armouring solutions to keep the vessel and occupants safe from such ammunition threats. The gun-mount station is usually isolated in the front side of the interceptor or fast patrol boats, and to protect the gunner manning the gun-station, this area too should be lined with the ballistic armouring solution.

In today’s changing threat landscape, the offshore oil drilling rigs and the sea-based transportation and supply routes have become an easy target for the terrorists to cause economic disruption in services to a country. To counter such threats, oil companies and their transportation partners to such offshore drilling rigs have to proactively equip the transportation vessels with ballistic protection from ammunition threats. So that the transfer of personnel and material supply to the isolate oil rigs is kept secured at all times.

Besides protecting the vessel’s hull and the compartments, it is also essential to equip crew members with personal armourfor emergency situations while they try fight piracy efforts. Personal armour can be of great importance while manning navigational positions, or carrying out reconnaissance and patrolling the vessel to check free board and other access points from where intruders can climb the ship. Since the crew spends day and night at long stretches over vessels and ships, it is also important to have the night vision devices on board to ensure 360 degree safety. Night vision devices are needed for constant surveillance around the ship at night and to monitor activity around the ship during evasive action maneuvers and other critical situations, especially at night.

With its rich experience in homeland security and defense sector, MKU provides a comprehensive range of naval armouring and personal armoursolutions specifically designed for maritime personnel. With its proven expertise in platform armouring that leverages MKU’s proprietary 6th Generation armour technology, the company offers ballistic armour solutions for wide range of naval systems that includes fast patrol boats, hovercratfts, ships, frigates and luxury yachts to name a few. The lightweight armouring solution for naval vessels is offered as pre-engineered panels that are customised to the specific application on the vessel’s hull and compartment areas to achieve specified ballistic performance.

Whereas, for personal protection, the solutions offered by MKU are not only infallible but also 40% lighter, 30% thinner and 50% more flexible compared to other solutions. The specifically designed marine ballistic flotation vests – aptly named Instafloat – boasts of latest technology for ultra-light weight and flexible protection solutions against handgun and rifle ammunitions. The Instafloat floatation vests have been designed with a quick release function for emergency situations and feature a floatation collar that keeps the wearer in upright position in water even in an unconscious state. Such a ballistic floatation vest can help fully equip the crew on ships and vessels out in the sea. MKU’s extensive range that includes marine vests, head protection and night vision devices ensures that the seas are less perilous for the ships and their crew out there.

Maritime security is a grave concern, and though as such nothing can be done to eradicate piracy as if now, at least fighting it is possible through smart naval armouringand dependable personal armoursolutions.

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