Superyacht security is of crucial importance in these modern times. The yachts of the rich and famous are kitted out with a wide range of luxurious amenities, and safety is often first on the list of requirements.
On land, people are able to protect their valuable possessions and property with fences, walls, even a moat if you’re feeling particularly medieval.
Security officers, law enforcement and maybe even a snarling guard dog or two are conveniently on-hand when your wealth lies on solid ground.
But many of the rich and famous funnel their money into superyachts, floating fortresses of extravagance and luxury.
Yachts provide the perfect escape from the hectic media frenzy of a megastar’s life. However, out on the high seas, it could take the coast guard or police hours or even days to respond.
Yachts need to be completely self-sufficient. All safety and security measures need to be integrated into the boat itself.
Otherwise the many dangers of the seas can quickly see them pillaged, looted, hijacked and even on the bottom of the ocean.
There are numerous risks to the owners, guests, crew and the yacht itself.
Piracy, theft and burglary, drug smuggling, hijacking, kidnapping and vandalism are all disturbingly common in some areas of the world (this live map shows incidents of piracy across the globe in just 2018).
Yachts can carry a fortune’s worth of valuable art, jewellery, and electrical gadgets. That’s without even considering the potential for ransom money through abductions.
And unfortunately, pirates don’t tend to care too much who they hurt in their search for money and trinkets. So there is always the possibility of assault, or even murder.
Superyacht Security Measures
With so many terrifying dangers in the open water, how do yacht / superyacht owners ensure that their vessels are safe?
Here is a rundown of some of the elaborate and impressive security measures defending superyachts today.
EXTRA-SECURE LOCKS AND BOLTS – All access points and windows are usually kitted out with strong steel locks and bolts to discourage even the most determined of burglars.
CAMERAS – The use of high-resolution CCTV cameras on yachts is an absolute must. Scanning in the skies, on deck and below the water, these high-tech cameras monitor threats all day, every day.
Infrared imaging allows the yacht’s owners to spot potential intruders even at night.
Radar, sonar and satellite imagery work in conjunction to provide a detailed, impenetrable surveillance net.
ARMED SECURITY – When cruising through perilous waters, a specialized armed security team may be the best superyacht security going.
Any pirates who see armed guards patrolling a vessel are unlikely to attack. They want an easy catch and so will divert to less-defended boats.
ANTI-HACKING CYBER SECURITY – The sophisticated computer systems that allow a yacht to navigate and monitor the seas are at risk of vicious cyberattacks.
To illustrate this, a pair of researchers from the US conducted a study in which they tested the cyber security of a multi-million dollar yacht.
Using only their laptops and mobile phones, they were able to take control of the vessel, hack into the GPS and change the co-ordinates of the destination.
Having also disabled all security measures, alarms and cameras, the hijacking was not even detected until the yacht was 30 miles off course.
In this modern era of technological warfare, the ultimate must-have in superyacht security is an anti-hacking and anti-virus computer system.
ULTRA-RESPONSIVE DECKING – Some of the more expensive yachts have employed a perfect system for detecting intruders – decks that can detect footsteps.
When the decking is pressed under human footsteps, CCTV cameras and intense bright lights snap into action to both startle and capture the intruder.
ESCAPE PODS – In some events all preventative measures fail and the yacht is doomed to be hijacked.
When this happens, the owner and his/her family can escape on emergency submersibles. These often come complete with temperature control, air purification, first aid equipment and even food and water supplies.
ANTI-MISSILE SYSTEMS – The most expensive yacht in the world is the Azzam, owned by Chelsea football club’s Roman Abramovich.
It sports an anti-ballistic missile system capable of warding off attacks from pirates and terrorists. It works in conjunction with a powerful radar designed to alert the captain to incoming rockets.
MILITARY-GRADE ARMOUR – Armouring a vessel is absolutely crucial to its defences, but it can be a challenge for designers.
Typically crafted for comfort and style, yacht owners don’t want clunky, blatant safety measures blighting their status symbol.
Therefore, designers have to find innovative ways to disguise and optimize security features. They combine steel doors, thick protective walls and high-quality ballistic windows with sleek non-intrusive décor.
L-RAD – L-RAD stands for ‘long-range acoustic device’ and is an ingenious non-lethal method of defence.
It emits a long-range noise that is so deafeningly loud that all attackers are forced to retreat immediately, without causing any long-lasting harm to anybody.
PANIC ROOMS – Last but not least is the mother of all superyacht security systems.
The panic room, or citadel, is a safe space where the occupants of the besieged yacht can hide from attackers. Once the impenetrable steel doors are closed, it is near impossible to break in.
The best panic rooms are watertight in case of sinking, and bullet-proof.
They have reliable communication systems with the outside world, and can even allow access to the main controls of the yacht itself, allowing it to be sailed to a safe location without the need to enter the bridge.
Complete with ventilation systems, extra supplies of food, water and first aid, a good panic room can keep a family alive in a hostage situation for days until help arrives.
Which of these superyacht security measures would you most like if sailing the high seas?
Comment below and discuss your favourite features, and those which you think are just unnecessary frivolities.
Written by D.M. Cain