The recent fatal shooting of a German national by masked gunmen on board a yacht in St. Vincent in the Caribbean raises concerns over security in the region. The incident that took place in Wallilabou Bay at around 1.30 am on 4th March left one man dead and another man, believed to be the yacht’s Captain, injured.
Ralph Gonsaves, the Prime Minister for St Vincent and the Grenadines praised the local Coast Guard for arriving at the scene within twenty minutes but pledged to increase security in the area. Nevertheless, the incident raises increased concerns for the safety of yachts in the region. In January 2016, warnings were issued by the maritime authorities of Trinidad and Tobago after two sailing vessels were boarded and ransacked by pirates armed with assault rifles.
Such incidents continue to illustrate the vulnerability of yachts cruising in the Caribbean where the continuous conflict of extreme wealth against impoverished local communities renders them an attractive target for criminality. A yacht’s clear expression of wealth, alongside ill equipped and often poorly motivated local security services exposes the yacht’s security vulnerabilities even further.
Consequently, yacht owners, management, Captain’s and crew should consider going one step further with the enforcement of their own rigid security procedures. Adopting a strict on board security culture is vital for any yacht. However, the adoption of on board security procedures along with a robust visible presence could mean the difference between the yacht being selected or overlooked by criminals as they search for an easy target.
In addition, regular security training for crew members should be sought from a security company with a strong pedigree in the superyacht industry. Utilising the services of a reputable security organisation for this type of training can enhance the crew’s knowledge and awareness and enable them to deal with the multitude of threats they face.
Yachts should also consider the employment of specialist security personnel to be present on board while the yacht is cruising in areas where there is a heightened security threat. Whilst on board, a team of security professionals can conduct a comprehensive security assessment of the yacht, highlighting any weaknesses, conduct crew security training and assist with a 24 hour watch routine.
This will enhance the yacht’s overall security posture by providing a robust and physical on board presence. This in turn provides considerable peace of mind to owners, managers and whoever is on board at that time.