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Secure at Sea: Yacht safety entails facing threats in multiple dimensions

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Secure at Sea: by Corey Ranslem

When I joined the U.S. Coast Guard, I was 24 years old and had a promising career in television. It felt crazy to give up what I had been doing to jump into a complete unknown. I am sure everyone reading this column can relate. Remember the day you decided to start your career in the yachting industry? Probably seemed crazy leaving home and traveling halfway around the world to live on a boat in cramped conditions with strangers. That decision to jump into the maritime industry came more than 24 years ago for me, and it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I have been an avid reader of The Triton for several years and am excited to be a part of the team. This publication provides a much more crew-centered news point, and I love the interaction and input from the industry.

My expertise falls within security, risk management and technology in the maritime industry, so that will be the focus of this column. I enjoy getting feedback from readers, so please don’t hold back. A great constructive conversation always helps to shed light on different sides of an issue and benefits further improvements in our industry.

There are several relevant topics to discuss in security, risk management and technology. Next month, we will explore the ever-popular topic of cybersecurity. Within the past few years this topic has garnered overwhelming attention, especially within the maritime industry. Two years ago, it was difficult to get even five people in the audience for a panel discussion on cybersecurity. Today, the topic draws in people from all aspects of the industry and from all around the world. There is no single fix to the cybersecurity problem, as there are several attack vectors used by state and nonstate actors. However, there are some easy and common-sense procedures to put in place that will help mitigate cyber issues.

In the coming months, I plan to address several other security and technology topics relevant to the megayacht community. There are several exciting technological advances happening within the maritime industry in general, but moving quickly within the mega­yacht industry specifically. This industry is typically ahead of the cargo and cruise industry when it comes to the adoption of new technologies. For example, we will look at the different aspects of how the “digital bridge” is going to change vessel operations and hopefully improve safety and security.

Blockchain technology is advancing separate from cryptocurrencies and has some potentially profound implications on how business will be done in the future. This technology could potentially help to improve transactions, record keeping, contracts  and digital payments.

The overall physical security of vessels is another growing concern, with yachts now pushing past the usual Mediterranean-Caribbean charter routes. We will address several aspects of physical vessel security, crew security and the ever-popular topic of carrying guns and security teams while underway. There are many legal, flag-state and port-state control issues to consider in the carriage of weapons on board a vessel.

Laws and regulations, entry issues  and government jurisdictional claims are complex and continue to develop and change. As these issues develop, we will look at the effects on the megayacht community, including crew, passengers and charter operations.

Migrants and stowaways are a continuing concern for our industry as civil unrest and military action within the Middle East and North Africa are causing people to flee across the Mediterranean toward Europe. During my USCG tenure, I dealt with several cases of human trafficking, migrant smuggling and migrant fleeing. When dealing with migrants, there are several security and safety precautions to consider. There are also potential legal implications when dealing with migrants or stowaways that can cause major issues.

As we start this new beginning together I am excited to see where it goes.  I am also excited about getting the opportunity to interact with you, the amazing professionals that make up the megayacht community.

Corey D. Ranslem is CEO at International Maritime Security Associates (www.imsa.global). With more than 24 years of combined Coast Guard and maritime industry experience, he aims to enhance the way mariners handle security threats and risk management. Comments are welcome below.

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