Safety training experts

Ed Hill Intrepid ProtectionEd Hill discusses why security training for yacht crew is paramount for cohesive yacht operations and to build a strong team onboard that will benefit the owner and guests onboard

With crime consistently dominating current headlines, it’s easy to understand why security is high on the agenda for most organisations.

Today’s security threat is more serious than ever and yachts are certainly not immune. Many yachts mistakenly feel that on-board security is only a requirement when cruising through the Gulf of Aden. However, further investigation will reveal that maritime piracy is now far more prevalent in other parts of the world. A string of recent events involving violent attacks on yachts in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia illustrate that yachts must remain guarded in even the most tranquil areas.

Furthermore, other threats to security have now emerged with the potential dangers posed by drones and a cyber breach presenting a different type of challenge. These threats may appear to be more discreet nevertheless if left unprotected their impact can be devastating.

There is no mistaking that glamorous yachts will continuously attract attention for their association with ostentatious wealth. The presence of expensive artwork, jewellery and cash, not to mention the safety and security of owners, their guests and families increase the need for tightened security. However, the increasing crime rate coupled with decreasing police resources proves that yachts are vulnerable and a lack of on-board security awareness amongst the crew exacerbates that vulnerability.

The International Maritime Organisation became concerned of the general lack of security awareness throughout the entire maritime industry and introduced mandatory security courses as part of the basic STCW training package for all seafarers. Although this move is to be commended, the course content only covers the basic minimal security skills and this renders the value of these courses as somewhat questionable.

For those yachts that comply with the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code, a mandatory requirement is that crew security training must be conducted every three months. This training is typically conducted in-house by the on-board Ship Security Officer. However, the busy work routine of most yachts means that minimal time is afforded to this training. Consequently, security training often gets neglected, it can be unimaginative and often viewed as a tedious chore.

However, proper investment in crew training can and will reap the benefits. A driving factor behind crew engagement is training and development. Studies in business have discovered that those companies that invest in meaningful training for their personnel perform considerably better than those that don’t. Investment in staff training brings a number of benefits to both the individuals and the organisation as a whole.

Some of the more obvious benefits of training will give the crew a greater understanding of their responsibilities, build confidence, encourage teamwork, develop common working practices and strengthen internal relationships. Ultimately, this increases morale and improves the overall performance of the yacht.

A crew that is well trained can give the yacht a genuine competitive advantage over other yachts, particularly if the yacht is being used for charter. Furthermore, an employer that demonstrates a commitment to staff development will help a yacht retain its best individuals and makes the yacht more attractive when it comes to recruiting top talent.

On the matter of security, it’s clearly advantageous to have a crew that are well drilled and diligent. This acts as a visual deterrent that sends a potential intruder elsewhere in search of an easier target. Conversely, any yacht that displays a lethargic attitude towards security is openly inviting intruders on board.

One way of enhancing the crew’s security capability is to bring in an outside trainer. The utilisation of external expert security advice can significantly improve the quality of the training by imparting their experience and introducing fresh ideas. Training can be delivered to an advanced level that involves realistic exercise scenarios that considerably sharpens the crew’s alertness and ability to respond to an incident.

Training can be tailored to a yacht’s specific security needs. For example, if a yacht is heading to a region where there are concerns for piracy, the crew can be trained to prepare for that specific threat. Perhaps more importantly, the crew can be reminded of the importance of routine security awareness such as the potential consequences of opening an unscrupulous email attachment or posting a seemingly innocent photograph on social media.

Some yacht owners have even requested their crew to be trained in unarmed combat techniques. This will give the crew the confidence to tackle and restrain an individual that has become aggressive and violent.

An excellent way of highlighting a yacht’s security shortfalls is by penetration testing. Unbeknown to the crew, an external organisation will conduct surveillance of the yacht to assess weaknesses. At a moment of their choosing, the surveillance team will board the yacht to see how far they can get without being challenged. When finished, the whole crew will be debriefed on areas that need addressing.

A number of high profile security breaches involving superyachts prove that security must be taken seriously by everyone on board. Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and a superyacht with all of its opulence presents a perfect target. A well-trained crew combined with a robust on-board security culture goes a long way in reducing that threat.

Instead of being viewed as a laborious box-ticking exercise, crew security training should be seen as a worthwhile and necessary investment.

Intrepid Protection has been honoured by the UK Ministry of Defence with the prestigious Silver Award in the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.

These awards recognise the outstanding support for our armed forces from employers across London and the rest of the UK. The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme acknowledges those organisations which actively demonstrate support to the armed forces community.

To gain this Award companies must have shown that they proactively demonstrated that service personnel and the wider armed forces community are not unfairly disadvantaged during recruiting and selection processes, actively ensure that their workforce is aware of their positive policies towards defence people issues and demonstrated support to mobilisations or have a framework in place by providing at least 5 days’ additional special leave.

As an organisation whose entire business model is built upon the resourcing of former British military personnel, Intrepid Protection is immensely proud to have received this award and shall continue to honour our pledge to support the armed forces community.

Intrepid Protection is also proud to announce the recertification of our ISO9001:2015 Quality Management accreditation. This award comes after recently undertaking a stringent two-day audit of our operational policies and procedures conducted by an independent third party auditor.

Their continued adherence to the conformities to the ISO 9001 standard dates back to 2013 with compliance audits being undertaken once a year. This latest award confirms that the delivery of the close protection and residential security services continues to meet the internationally recognised ISO standard. Compliance with the ISO 9001 standard demonstrates a company’s commitment to its clients and the provision of a quality service. Selecting a company that is certified in ISO 9001:2015 helps to eliminate any uncertainty for the client who can be assured that the company has undergone a stringent process and has a proven and verifiable track record.

Whether it’s the protection of people or property, our clients have high standards and expectations. As a minimum they expect a service that’s competent and reliable. Our certification in ISO 9001:2015 gives exactly that by formalising that additional layer of certainty.

It is our insistence on the highest of standards that provides the assurance that all of our operations continue to function seamlessly. Our clients can therefore be assured of a security service that is bespoke, competent and substantiated.

Ed Hill is Managing Director of Intrepid Protection, a company that specialises in specialist security services to High-Net-Worth Individuals. A former sniper in the Royal Marines Commandos, Ed has a Masters’ Degree in Maritime Security.

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