Basic Weapons Familiarization for Yacht Crew?

Posted: 24th June 2016 | Written by: Shawn Engbrecht

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After several reports of ISIS operatives finding their way onto migrant boats, the question of basic weapons familiarization for crew has been doing the rounds. In the unlikely event of such an encounter it might be useful to know how to make a firearm 'safe' but, as you'd expect, the reactons on social media in the USA and the Med have been quite different.

In part one, I concluded with the opinion that the wholesale training of crews in proficiency in firearms is a fool’s errand and will only serve to increase the risk of accidental injury or death due to insufficient depth of training when the moment of truth duly arrives. 

The article received considerable feedback, and comments represented both sides of the issue at hand. One was especially noteworthy, a well-reasoned argument on why all crew members should at least know the basics of making a weapon safe under duress. 

Because of her intelligent hypothesis I bow to her logic and concur that she is in fact correct. Crews should indeed have the necessary skills to render any firearm safe from discharge, even when there is just the slightest chance that a firearm finds its way on board. 

It is relatively simple to train; making any weapon ‘safe’ is a simple action that can be performed error free under stress by individuals who are likely to be emotionally distraught. 

Weapons familiarization training does fit within an informal curriculum, as well as the belief that we should teach ALL crew something about EVERYTHING. What we are talking about is cross platform training for every individual crewmember.   

In short, the engineer should have a life-saving course on how to set the table. The on board chef should be able to take charge of a fire fighting team. The youngest steward should be able to hold a basic compass bearing and steer the ship if need be. Cross platform skills pay an enormous dividend during times that could be referred to as “the fog of events”. 

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The sage understand that Murphy’s Law is in fact a LAW and critical pieces of anything ‘foolproof’ can break down precisely when you need them most. This is why at Cass Global, all staff in locations such as Tunisia or Egypt are fully capable with maps and a compass should the GPS decide to pack in without warning. You never know when you might need these skills but you’d better have them when you do. 

My conclusion is that we all tend to focus too much on ‘reactive’ skills (shooting and moving), and pay too little attention to ‘preventative’ skills such as maintaining a sound watch and identifying potential threats while they’re still a distance away. The odds of crew encountering a firearm are very slim and, in my view, training resources are better spent improving situational awareness and cohesion among the team. 

*Image credit: OnboardOnline; By Rama via WikimediaCommons CC BY-SA 2.0 fr

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Readers Comments

  • Comment by: Robert Bleecke - 29/06/2016 12:33pm (3 years ago)

    Highly trained and French licensed firearm handler. I believe ignorance is not an excuse and that all vessels should have crew that are competent in having the knowledge on making most commonly used firearms safe.