According to recent reports the once very serious risk of piracy targeting cargo ships around Somalia and the Indian Ocean has declined significantly. However, European and American militaries and maritime enforcement agencies still advise private yacht owners to avoid this, and other so-called “High Risk Areas.” Naval commanders of the European coalition forces, (EUNAVFOR) told Yachting World magazine, “All yachts under their own passage should remain out of the High Risk Area or face the risk of being hijacked and held hostage for ransom. [Poverty and the other] root causes of piracy have not been eradicated in the region.”
The agency went on to say, that while the problem in and around Somalia has decreased, largely due to successful interventions by the world’s navies, it is on the rise in other areas.
The average superyacht is worth over $1 million a square-foot. That is a very tempting target for pirates or hijackers. With piracy still a concern, and luxury motor yachts high-profile targets, many yacht owners are protecting their yachts with some very advanced “military grade” technologies.
Could You “Pirate Proof” your Motor Yacht?
Even when the problem in the Gulf of Aden was at its highest, the Somalia pirates mostly turned their attention to commercial vessels, knowing the large ransom shipping companies would pay for the return of their crew and cargo. But, there were incidents involving private yachts. In February of 2011, four Americans were killed after pirates hijacked their yacht, the Quest, off of Oman.
Such incidents have yacht owners equipping their boats with all manner of security such as hidden “panic rooms”, escape pods, tracking devices, and of course armed guards.
There have even been reports of some very wealthy yacht owners arming their boats with “military grade” weaponry and counter measures. According to CNN, the “Eclipse,” the 525Ft superyacht owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, is equipped with “military-grade defense and surveillance systems,” and there were unsubstantiated rumors that she even had “anti-missile technology” on board.
There are many firms that specialize in selling and installing security and pirate-deterrent systems for your yacht. Such systems include long range radars and thermal imagers that can warn of approaching threats from miles away, to “non-lethal” deterrents such as L-RAD. L-RAD is “a long-range acoustic device so deafeningly loud that when it is directed at attackers, it forces them to retreat.” There is a firm that has even developed a “slick, foul-smelling green liquid,” to coat rails with, and deploy directly at pirates attempting to board. The makers say it is so disgusting, that once covered in it, all an attacker wants to do is dive into the water to try and remove it.
There have even been superyachts that have been equipped with emergency “getaway submarines!”
Still, despite methods like these, and countless others, maritime authorities say the best way to avoid encounters with pirates, is to literally steer clear of the waters they frequent. US intelligence agencies, and private maritime security companies, can provide yacht owners with information such as risk maps, and the areas to avoid.
Understanding the complexities of motor yacht ownership can be hard. If you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Sales Specialists, or call us at (855) 318-6328.