Cook is insistent that the news from the IMB should not detract from the industry’s perception of piracy as a tangible threat, asserting, “Complacency is our worst enemy and everything that has been done thus far is reversible”. Nonetheless, piracy has always been a threat more prominent for cargo vessels, with the number of superyacht incidents, in comparison, extremely low.
News that 2013 saw a 40 per cent drop in piracy since its peak in 2011, however, does provide space for other areas within the security realm under the spotlight, and for Cook there are two main concerns for owners today.
“[Owners] need to be very aware of cyber security and that cyber security is not just something that is done by the IT specialists. Cyber security is something that everybody gets involved in and Wikileaks is a wonderful example of people getting information from other people,” suggests Cook. “It’s having that security awareness on board your superyacht, where you don’t necessarily want the whole world knowing exactly what you’re doing. So having a policy that deters people doing things you don’t want them to is very important, and having the correct measures in place so that things don’t creep out unintentionally. Whether it be something you want to do in confidence or that your family are about to go ashore to a particular venue – you don’t want the whole world knowing.”
- John Cook, founder and security director, Security Association for the Maritime Industry
Yet in the context of today’s media-hungry world, the whole world knowing what you’re doing is becoming an increasing problem faced by superyacht owners and this is where Cook’s second advisory mantra arises. “I think we also need to link this in with port and marina security,” he continues. “The reason I say that is because, as we know, the number of superyachts is increasing and as they increase space at marinas will inevitably become more of a premium and therefore people will have to go to previously unvisited locations where you have to be more circumspect that the security is in place. A big shiny superyacht can attract a lot of attention and the magpies of the world will all of a sudden become very keen on what is there, and the fact that each time a big superyacht comes into town we know that pretty soon after there’s going to have to be quite a decent chunk of money. You’ve got to start being proactive on this and not reactive.”
While the threat of piracy is likely to remain present for the foreseeable future, these statistics from the IMB provide a catalyst for a stronger industry-wide focus on other, less discussed areas of maritime security, and those particularly relevant to the superyacht owner.