Piracy is a much-discussed matter in the superyacht industry and despite the necessary acknowledgement of piracy as a tangible threat, its occurrence is much more common in the merchant sector than within the superyacht arena. Jenny Carter-Vaughan, managing director of Expert Insurance Group, spoke to The Superyacht Owner about an additional threat and one she feels is more applicable to owners: kidnapping. While an unpleasant topic and an arguably small threat, she argues that it is one that should be of more concern to owners and explains how a yacht's crew are key to ensuring the risk is minimised.

“The thing with superyachts is they’re really quite a badge of wealth," says Carter-Vaughan "They’re not the sort of thing that you are hiding away. Not only do people know that the person who owns the yacht has money, but they also quite often know who it is." She explains that quite often when owners are on their yachts and they go into nice waters, they will let their guard down. "But in actual fact they’re in a much more exposed and vulnerable situation than if they were wandering round in London, for example," she says."That leaves them vulnerable to attack and the kidnap risk.” Bearing this in mind, it is imperative, then, that a crewmember understands his or her responsibility during these moments when an owner is likely to be more exposed.

Consideration of the crew’s role is very important when it comes to a yacht’s public profile. Carter-Vaughan reminds us that while the average yacht owner may not be spreading business round the local marina, the crew may be talking about where they are going and who they work for. It’s not that difficult to work out who is taking their yacht where.

"[Superyachts] are not the sort of thing that you are hiding away. Not only do people know that the person who owns the yacht has money, but they also quite often know who it is."
- Jenny Carter-Vaughan, managing director, Expert Insurance Group

An owner can learn from, and with, the crew, however, and owners must avoid any presumption that on-board security training is for the crew alone. “It shouldn’t just be the crew who are going through the process of, ‘What do we do if there is a piracy attack?'," Carter-Vaughan states. "It’s not just paying lip service to the drills and thinking it’s just for the crew. It’s for the owners and guests.”

There are additional things owners can do to minimise the risk of kidnapping, however. “There’s some really good technology out there," Carter-Vaughan tells us. "The thing that actually stops these attacks is the early detection systems." And should the unfortunate incident occur? Carter-Vaughan says it pays to have had kidnap and terrorism training — something many UHNWIs will have had experience with — not just for them but for their family.

Knowing how to behave and what to pay attention to and take in can make a difference during the ordeal and when it gets sorted out. But both owner and crew must remember that equally important is that a yacht's crew remembers its ongoing role in increasing a yacht's security - in doing this, the chances of having to put into practice any training or safety equipment become much smaller.