Exclusive: Cyber, security and safety at sea


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State-of-the-art solutions from Priavo Maritime Security Inc. are helping to maintain safety on superyachts.

Private superyachts are the ultimate isolation destination and chartering a superyacht is often considered to be one of the safest ways to enjoy a holiday – an appealing alternative to those who have the money, at a time when other luxury holiday options are unobtainable due to COVID-19.

Private charter ensures guests can stay safeguarded in smaller, immaculately clean environments with minimal exposure to public areas. Despite COVID-19 complications, once on board the charter experience appears to remain largely unchanged for guests. 

How easy is it for vessels to remain COVID-19 free safe havens?

There are many cases where Captain and crew have been confined to the yacht because of port or country restrictions and, as a result, many have implemented rigorous testing for crew to ensure the environment onboard is as safe as possible. This alone is adding additional cost and responsibility to the Captains to ensure that the vessel, crew and passengers remain within a sterile environment.  

Additional measures include rigorous cleaning, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), regular onboard crew testing, isolating crew ashore during rotations, thermal fever detection and deeper sanitisation between charters. New technologies such as EMist – electrostatic sprayers provide direct and extremely effective disinfection and are reducing chemical use and labour costs by up to 50%.

As more travel corridors open up, itineraries are likely to include a greater mix of potential destinations. But does this create a greater security risk? 

Ship operators continue to face a broad range of security challenges around the globe and there have been many security incidents recorded this year throughout the Indian Ocean, West Africa, South East Asia and South America.

Chris Farrell, Group Commercial Director at Priavo Maritime Security Inc. states: “The biggest risk to shipping at the minute is the quality of guards on-board vessels. Many competitors are cutting corners and budgets by using guards with very little maritime experience or training. This can result in potential incidents onboard.

“Quality is key for superyachts and despite COVID-19 restrictions we ensure that all guards are fully vetted, trained and are on standby to deploy at short notice. All guards are tested for COVID-19 prior to embarking on a client vessel.”

A combination of security systems

Maritime security threats are dynamic with cyber continuing to pose significant risk to maritime operations. Vessels face very similar cybersecurity threats to any modern business with additional vulnerabilities arising from the way systems communicate on-board. This technology is often insecurely transmitted.

Pete Murphy, Group CEO at Priavo Maritime Security Inc. and The 360 Alliance articulates: ’Vessels are usually managed from one central management system that controls everything from navigation and engine management to entertainment systems, lighting and air conditioning. Worryingly, these systems can be wirelessly controlled from iPads and other devices. This set-up, whilst very convenient opens up the yacht to a multitude of internal and external cybersecurity threats.’’

Reassuringly, from 1 January 2020, all vessels over 500gt have to incorporate cyber risk within existing safety management systems. This includes both information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) to provide comprehensive cybersecurity protection to the vessel, crew, owner and guests.

Priavo Maritime Security Inc. offers a layered approach to Maritime Security incorporating physical, electronic and cyber maritime services for complete protection of the vessel and crew. 

For more information visit:

Physical Security and Armed Transits: https://priavosecurity.com/maritime-security/

Physical, Electronic and Cybersecurity: https://priavosecurity.com/360-maritime-security/  

Rapid Testing Kits, Fever Detection and Disinfection Systems: https://protectfully.com/

This article was published in the December 2020 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital copy on the link here

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