Terrorist threats and social top list of superyacht security issues


Security and the safety of superyacht owners and their crew was on topic at the Superyacht Investor London 2016 event at the Hyatt Recency London – The Churchill this week with criminals tracking yachts through careless social media postings and the ever present threat of terrorist attacks from organisations such as ISIS high on the agenda.

The terror threat has undoubtedly led to a request from owners for their security teams, of which there are “less than 80 operating in the industry today”, according to Simon Rowland, co-founder and chief executive of Veritas International the maritime, private and corporate security specialists, to carry more weapons. However, Rowland insisted that there should still be stringent barriers to the use of firearms and that regulation should not be eased regarding the use of guns. “For all the right reasons barriers are put in place [on the use of firearms]. However, when it comes to discharging firearms you are allowed to take a life to save a life,” he said.

Before a wave of panic hits the industry regarding a terrorist threat, Richard Webb, managing director of fellow maritime security specialists MarineGuard said it was not a time to overreact, and insisted that now was not a time to talk about escape pods and panic rooms, but that put simply clients, “need a comprehensive way to shut the doors and protect what you have onboard.”

That is not to say that the threat from terrorist groups is not a clear and present danger, but Andy Young, managing director of SPS, insisted that it was up to superyacht owners and their crews to use their own common sense when choosing mooring locations: “There is a threat if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. If yacht owners are in a particular area they are increasing their own threat,” he said.

Simple solutions must now present themselves through common sense activities, such as restricting the use of social media messages, particularly from crew members that may not be aware of the danger of posting location details on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Rowland said that the use of social media onboard by the crew to simply tell friends where the yacht is docked or where it may be moving on to must be curtailed by crew managers and the captain. He concluded: “What we are trying to tie down is the crew making any reference to the owner’s departure location or destination [on social media].

“Something as simple as crew members wanting to meet up with friends in the next port and posting that on social networks can now pose a significant security threat.”

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