“I just walked down the IYCA in Antibes at 8pm on a dark, misty, damp November night. There were 10 big boats berthed there, four of which had no physical barrier to entry on board, such as the gangway down or no sign or barrier saying no entry, nor were there any human guard present preventing entry. Someone could have paralysed at least one of those vessels very quickly.”

This first officer’s comments, which The Crew Report received earlier this month, are quite shocking in the context of ISPS (the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code). But it doesn’t stop there.

“Another five vessels had the gangway down but no total prevention to boarding. One vessel had it side boarding ladder down, making entry from the water a piece of cake. Only one vessel prevented simple boarding by lifting the gangway in the air and having a gate and no-entry sign present at all times. As this was my last boat, it was nice to see the boat’s crew security measures were still enforced to a high level. Considering so many security risks these days, even in a safe haven such as Antibes, together with implementing ISPS on-board procedures, you would have thought that standards would be higher.”

Think back to the recent boat shows and how many times you could have easily just stepped onto a yacht. Security is a hot topic in today’s industry, and was one discussed at length during the 2015 Global Superyacht Forum, so it’s somewhat surprising that this code, integral to superyacht security, is clearly not being practiced to the same extent.

“It is worrying that the complacency of the other boats will be clear to any observer, and that includes persons with malicious intent,” explains Adrian McCourt, managing director of Watkins Superyachts, when we put the crewmember’s comments to him.

“We had all had assurances that Antibes is a secure port, but this is not borne out by experience. Security begins with visible deterrence. This is routinely absent in Antibes as well as many other superyacht marinas. The astute captain or, if carried, shipboard security officer, should have some additional measures in place to compensate for the complacency of the port authority, rather than mirror it,” McCourt adds.

"Security begins with visible deterrence. This is routinely absent in Antibes as well as many other superyacht marinas." - Adrian McCourt, managing director, Watkins Superyachts

Sheldon Kaye, director at Skills 4 Security & Training, believes it comes down to a budgetary problem. “The feedback we are receiving is that shipping companies’ port authorities’ budgets are not allowing for the knowledge gained through attending the various courses to be put into physical practice to the extent that it needs to be,” explains Kaye, who adds that other problem areas include “insufficient budgets for training and security in general”.

These comments do raise the question, how efficient is the ISPS code if it’s not being put into place effectively? And, in turn, who is responsible for ensuring the code is implemented effectively? For the crewmember whose comments spurred this article, the responsibility quite clearly lies with the captain. “I was pleased to see that my old vessel, on which I participated in implementing the security measures, was the only [secure] vessel,” he concludes, with a final piece of advice: “To all those over-paid, lazy captains out there, wake up. You’re paid to be responsible for the vessel, crew and guest safety and security.”

Join The Crew Report’s ISPS debate here.


Profile links

Watkins Superyachts

Skills 4 Security & Training