With the heady excitement of the yacht show season in full swing, it may seem like an unexpected and even unwelcome time to be bringing up the thorny issue of security on board yachts.
Indeed, you might be thinking: “After a tricky few years for the industry and some pretty turbulent media coverage in recent months, can’t we just enjoy ourselves and stop worrying about everything which could go wrong with our vessels?” An understandable impulse this may be, but thankfully yacht security doesn’t need to be an overwhelming topic.
Here, we break down five straightforward ways to improve the security on board your superyacht so you can enjoy peace of mind and get back to what matters: escaping the pressures of everyday life and making the most of your time on the water.
1. Stop airborne intruders
One of the biggest blights for superyacht owners looking to escape from the stresses of everyday life has been the increasing prevalence of drones being used in recent years.
Although laws do exist about how close you can fly drones to vessels – for example, CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) rules state that drones are not permitted to be flown within 50 metres of any vessel which is not being controlled by the person in charge of the vehicle – there will always be a small number of unscrupulous individuals who are particularly dedicated to their pursuit of snapping photographs of your yacht’s details and guests on board.
To this end, it might be worth considering installing an onboard drone detection system. These can identify any commercial drones in operation within a particular radius, providing GPS positions of the pilot and drone, as well as the speed and direction of the drone. Following this, the system will then engage a large electronic exclusion zone around the yacht which will stop any unwanted airborne visitors in their tracks.
2. Keep your eyes open underwater
Now you’ve stopped worrying about drones for a moment, it’s time to get your pulses racing about waterborne threats from unknown and malicious watercraft.
That said, there are plenty of systems available in the industry which have been specifically designed to combat this issue. Underwater sonar systems are equipped to detect unknown submersibles and scuba divers approaching your vessel from all angles at ranges of 1,000+ metres, altering security personnel to any possible threats.
As with the drone detection technology described above, the key to boosting onboard security is all about building the most complete situational awareness picture possible by linking all relevant hardware and sensors on the vessel, thus effectively providing a 360 perimeter security bubble around a yacht at all levels. This not only means that reaction times can be improved when responding to any potential threats but also helps to filter out any false alarms (of which there will be many!).
3. Construct a citadel room
Increasing in popularity on board existing and new build superyachts alike are hidden citadel rooms. Originally used on board commercial ships for dealing with emergencies, a citadel room offers a highly secure location for passengers to escape to in the extremely rare occurrence of experiencing unwanted visitors on their yacht.
Equipped with reinforced doors and ballistic protection walls, citadel rooms also offer their own ventilation system and food and water supplies, as well as independent and overriding access to the yacht’s navigational and satellite communications systems, even without direct access to the bridge, meaning that the vessel remains under your control.
Although incidents like this are incredibly rare, owners can find the presence of such a space on board to be comforting (and also offer a convenient and private escape space for owners, should the rigours of a two-week trip with friends prove to be a bit much…).
4. Get creative with deterrents
Now that in-person contact is back on the table, the yacht show season can also offer the opportunity to meet industry experts who are committed to developing the latest technology to keep owners and guests as safe as possible on board their yachts.
With companies constantly adapting and innovating to keep up with developments in this field, there are a plethora of creative options available, including acoustic deterrents, dazzle guns and many more.
Able to be incorporated into the design of your new build or installed at a later date, acoustic deterrents emit a high-pitched noise from your yacht, ringing out above the tolerance level of an average person at a range of up to three kilometres and capable of broadcasting commands in numerous different languages.
If you’re looking for a less noisy way to put off prospective pirates instead, you could also opt for a dazzle gun – a laser weapon which uses green light to disorientate and temporarily blind unwanted visitors and can be used effectively during daytime and nighttime conditions. Importantly too, many of these lasers can hail and warn suspect individuals before any shots are fired, with deterrence and de-escalation always being the primary goal of this technology.
5. Keep your data secure with a digital logbook
Finally, although perhaps not as ‘sexy’ and James Bond-esque as some of the technologies described above, one of the key issues for onboard yacht security is undoubtedly that of data security.
When it comes to your onboard logbook, it is worth considering the added security benefits of going digital, with the industry’s first digital logbook (eLogbook) recently launched and offered by L.J Commercial Services. This has the advantage of enabling you to run your custom reports at just the press of a button (such as your last 10 port report).
On a purely pragmatic level, logging data online is more secure by its very nature than having multiple hefty paper logbooks on the bridge – and also offers the added bonus of secure real-time access to data for crew, auditors and flag states alike, even when they are not physically present.
Furthermore, the digital logbook also includes numerous inbuilt features to reduce human error and ease usability by automating processes which are currently manual. This includes functions such as flag state guidance notes and categories being available for quick and easy pre-selection. Additionally, files and receipts can be uploaded in seconds for every entry and held within the system, removing the need for hard copies.
Fully compliant with IMO Jan 2021 Cyber Security Protocol, the digital logbook offers its users full end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication and the highest level of security possible and is already being trusted by superyacht crew across the industry, including the Chief Officer of 61.5-metre motor yacht Lemon Tree (ex: Cloud 9). With your digital security ensured, that is one less thing to worry about!
To discover more about the eLogbook offered by L.J Commercial Services, visit the company’s website.