During ACREW's inaugural Caribbean CrewFest at Christophe Harbour, Securewest’s Wayne Britton hosted a workshop on crew security awareness and conflict resolution. The most common threats to the industry were discussed: piracy and armed robbery; mass rescue at sea; crew safety onshore; terrorism; information security and incident response procedures.

Wayne Britton, Securewest

First addressing the threat of piracy attacks, Britton advised crew to be vigilant and attentive, particularly in the high threat areas, which currently include the Caribbean, South-East Asia, East Africa and West Africa. He was clear to point out that all areas have pirates with different levels of aggression and different objectives.

Britton explained the importance of planning in order to avoid, reduce and transfer the risk of piracy attacks. “We see it with acts of piracy all the time,” he explains. “Pirates will probe a target, assess the reaction and then move on if they feel the crew are alert.” This method of transferring the risk, Britton explains, is the most effective when it comes to avoiding hostility.

If pirates do come on board, however, Britton says to be passive, oblige and let them take what they want. “If you try to take them on you will most likely end up getting the whole crew killed,” he adds.

Caribbean CrewFest

The discussion moved on to the relevance of post-incident reporting in order to avoid future situations, but it was acknowledge that this is often the industry’s weak point. “We often recognise in the superyacht industry that there is a lack of communication between boats about the reality of what’s going on because of reputational risk,” Britton explains. “But this could be remedied by the sharing of information anonymously.” 

In reference to the very current and real issues of migrant and mass rescues in the Med, Britton recommends that captains talk to their owners honestly about topical issues. In 2015 there were over 3500 deaths in the Med, and the most common route was central Med. “In many cases, migrants don’t have lifejackets and they have been told that there are hundreds of rescue boats in the Med that will pick them up,” he explains.

Britton concluded that the Professional Yachting Association (PYA) was putting together and aide-mémoire in order to better advise crew on what to do should they find themselves in a mass rescue situation. More details on this will follow as more information is disclosed.