Luxury yacht attacks to intensify, warns MedAire


Attacks on luxury yachts by environmental protestors in Europe are likely to become more common, warns security, medical and travel consultancy MedAire. Tighter security and detailed risk assessments will play a key role in mitigating the threat, it adds.

Jeremy Knochel, global security manager, Aviation & Maritime, MedAire acknowledged a growing number of attacks. “We have observed an increase in both the frequency and intensity of protests targeting the luxury yacht sector. Activists have caused significant damage to superyachts, resulting in substantial financial losses,” said Knochel.

“These protests have also led to operational disruptions, including delays and closures of marinas. We anticipate that these protests may escalate in frequency, disruption, and damage to the yachting community.” Knochel was speaking after the €300m ($337M) yacht Kaos was attacked with paint in Ibiza Port by the Spanish climate change protest group Futuro Vegetal (Vegetable Future) last month.

Alongside videos and images of the attack on the group’s Instagram social media platform, it posted the message: “The only reason we continue to maintain an economic system that leads us to eco-social collapse is to sustain the privies of this small privileged class.” Two days before the luxury yacht attack, the group vandalised an Embraer Phenom 300E private jet at Ibiza Airport by spraying it with yellow and black paint.

Similar to airport security, measures at small marinas vary greatly across regions, according to MedAire. In Europe and North America, many marinas have robust security measures in place. “But there can be gaps due to the less stringent regulations compared with commercial ports,” said Knochel. In other parts of the world, the security standards can be inconsistent, with some marinas having excellent security and others needing improvement. “Overall, while many small marinas strive to maintain high security standards, the recent incidents highlight the need for enhanced measures, particularly in the face of increasing activist protests,” he said.

The security of luxury vessels can be improved by implementing a multi-layered approach, according to MedAire. This includes improving physical security measures, such as surveillance systems, access controls and perimeter fencing. “Regular security audits and staff training are also crucial to ensure that security protocols are up-to-date and effectively implemented,” said Knochel. “Marinas can benefit from intelligence sharing and collaboration with local law enforcement agencies to respond swiftly to potential threats.”

A key strategy is said to be to gather information about potential protest activity in the area that could disrupt operations. “This includes creating contingency plans for potential disruptions and conducting pre-travel briefings to ensure all crew members understand the appropriate responses to protestors,” said Knochel.

In high-risk circumstances, hiring private security may be advisable to provide an additional level of security for vessels. “At MedAire, we provide comprehensive risk assessment and management services to our clients, helping them navigate these complex issues safely and effectively,” said Knochel. Read more about the attack (pictured top) on Kaos here.

But it’s not just individual luxury yachts that are likely to be the target of environmental protests. “Industry trade shows and events are also a target of these types of protests,” according to MedAire. It will be interesting to see if enhanced security at this summer’s major European yacht shows will deter environmental protests. Judging by similar protests at private aviation shows and conferences so far this year, the answer is probably not.

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