MMWC propeller arresters (courtesy MMWC)

Propeller arresters are designed to foul the props of approaching boats.

Security case study

Stefanos Kotsiopoulos, a partner at Balinor, talks us through a recent case study.

‘We evaluated a 60m Feadship that was planning extensive travel through South-east Asia.

The ship was under-equipped with respect to long-range detection, and had virtually no non-lethal deterrence capability. We maintained the existing radar as a secondary unit and installed our Small Target Radar System as the primary navigational array.

‘There was no true long-range camera equipment so we added our long-range day/night visual system in addition to a shorter range thermal array.

‘The owner wanted long-range camera images available on a large screen TV below deck in addition to the bridge display; we used an ultra-secure wireless network to transmit this data.

‘LRAD was added for communication and sonic deterrence, as were two non-lethal deterrent laser sources, using the LRAD and visual camera mounts to provide automated pan/tilt targeting capability for the lasers.

‘All perimeter systems were coordinated through the radar display, with control displays installed on both the bridge and at a secondary control point in a secure area below deck.

‘We also provided wireless access so that crew could monitor the system from anywhere on board using the equivalent of an iPhone.’

Laser threat deterrent system

Laser deterrents shine a powerful laser beam into approaching vessels, disorientating – and possibly blinding – passengers.

Security gadgets

There is a myriad of equipment available to help defends yachts. Below is a selection of the gadgets available.

  • Night vision equipment and thermal imaging technology: These enable crew and security personnel to see approaching vessels at night, at a longer range than infrared cameras.
  • Door entry access control: These systems, which enable safe areas to be locked down from a central part, should be part of a yacht’s citadel.
  • Citadel: A watertight, impenetrable panic room with full external communications and, if possible, control of main engines.
  • Long-range acoustic device (LRAD): These create a highly-focused beam of intense sound to cause pain and disorientation. Their effectiveness against pirates in speedboats is debatable.
  • Ballistic protection (e.g. Kevlar curtains): These sheets of cloth can deflect bullets (or at least slow them down, so they’re no longer automatically lethal), but they are heavy and need to be deployed in advance of an attack.
  • CCTV: Preferably integrated with thermal/night vision gear.
  • Guns: Firearms are becoming increasingly commonplace on yachts, but they should only be used by professional security team.
  • MMWC propeller arresters: Long lines trailed over the stern and sides, entangle skiffs’ prop shafts.
  • Laser threat deterrent system: These can be used to dazzle crew of approaching boats, to deter them from boarding.
  • Fog/smoke cloaking system: Systems such as the GOST Cloak release Glycol mist so pirates become disorientated.
  • Remote GPS tracking: These enable yachts to be tracked remotely using a Google Earth interface, so they can be located if seized or when under attack.
  • Immobilisers: Can be very effective for safeguarding tenders and toys from casual thieves.
  • Sonobuoys: These can detect underwater approaches, such as swimmers or divers attempting to board, etc.

Pap defence

Many security firms are sating that they are also increasingly tasked with thwarting the paparazzi.

High-profile individuals often seek privacy and seclusion on board their yachts and defend this peace aggressively. So devices that began as military projects are now finding their way on board. Balinor’s Laser Deterrent will probably be deployed more against paparazzi than pirates, as will its sophisticated CCTV and network security measures.

And as reported in Boat International 290 (August 2010), there are even devices that can detect someone staring at, or focusing a lens on your yacht. California-based JETprotect’s CS300K device is a long-range counter-surveillance camera that automatically detects prying eyes by day or night; its software assesses the threat and can alert crew.

Originally published: April 2011


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