Command at Sea International
Providing head-of-state-level security for luxury yacht owners.
In an increasingly unstable global political and social environment, threats from pirates, terrorists, thieves and organized criminal elements are growing on the sparsely policed world’s oceans. Yacht security is more critical than ever to the use and enjoyment of private yachts. Harnessing the talent of the world’s most sophisticated and experienced international security experts, Command at Sea International (CASI) provides unequaled head-of-state level protection for select luxury yachts.
The CASI Difference
Command at Sea International is seeking a limited number of select clients who share our philosophy that the best security is born from the best possible strategic planning and implementation. Owners of both existing and in-construction yachts will work with our extraordinary, multi-skilled team of security experts to:
Recent media reports reference a former senior British naval officer warning that Mediterranean yachtsmen may be threatened by Islamic State (IS) combatants operating out of North Africa. Is this a real threat? A good tool for analysis is what prosecutors use to determine if they have a case; is there means, motive and opportunity?
Means: The report mentioned there are fisherman in the region who are sympathetic to IS and could provide transportation to combatants. IS has shown they have the weapons, training, and command structure to carry out coordinated military attacks especially against soft targets. They DO have the means for attacking a typical yacht in the Mediterranean.
Motive: IS has a sophisticated media presence used to enlist new members and gain financial support. An important part of their potential recruit audience are disaffected Islamic youth who have had brushes with the law and feel isolated by economic systems that provide them no opportunity. A key IS tactic in the theater of terrorism is to show extreme brutality against those who represent the establishment; reporters, captured soldiers and police along with non-Muslims. Hijacking a yacht and brutally killing the passengers and crew fits well with the message they are trying to send to their potential supporters. The assessment is that they DO have the motive for attacking a typical yacht.
Opportunity: Thousands of yachts sail the Mediterranean Sea in the summer, offering great opportunity for IS to carry out an attack. Most of these yachts are minimally protected and pose no real defense to an attack. The assessment is that they DO have the opportunity for attacking a typical yacht.
As mentioned, means, motive, and opportunity are used by prosecutors to demonstrate a person committed a crime. In this case however, no IS attack has yet occurred so one other factor must be considered, intent. Having assessed that IS has the means, motive, and opportunity to attack a Mediterranean yacht, we must ask do they really intend to mount such an attack? This is a tough question because it requires reliable intelligence such as communications intercepts and human reporting to learn if IS actually talks about mounting a yacht attack. This type of intelligence is generally collected by governments and rarely made available to the private sector so we do not have any direct evidence that IS is planning a maritime attack. Considering that the Marshall Islands registry has issued a security advisory on this threat, it must be taken seriously.
There are several options for Mediterranean yachtsmen:
1) Do nothing and continue sailing as if there is no threat. This is probably what most yachtsmen will do until there is an IS hijacking incident. It is difficult for good people to accept there are bad people out there that may want to do them harm. Until they see a direct threat or results of an attack that is close to them emotionally, they opt to believe they are inherently safe.
2) Schooling. Fish swim in schools to lessen their individual chances of being eaten by a predator. They hope that a predator will fill up on their buddies and go away before they are eaten. Yachtsmen can use the same tactic, going only where there are large concentrations of yachts and hope they are not picked out of the many for an attack. In this case, hope is the plan.
3) Avoidance. At the time of this writing, IS only has the means to mount an attack from eastern North Africa and the Levant. Avoiding areas that can be reached by fishing vessels from this area will keep a yacht out of harm’s way.
4) Defence. Making a yacht a hard target can deter and defend against an IS attack. Components of good defense are to maintain vigilance of your surroundings in order to identify threats early, installing and using a robust security system, using safe rooms to protect against kidnapping and killing, and using qualified armed security guards.
It is unfortunate that we must think of yachting pleasures being marred by the realities of armed conflict, but is clear that we must. The potential threat from IS is real but the probability an actual yacht attack is unknown. The prudent Mediterranean yachter will keep a close eye on the unraveling security situation and take prudent action to avoid sailing into harm’s way. Command at Sea International is prepared to help yachtsmen manage this threat with expert threat analysis, security systems, crew training and if needed, enhanced security measures.