Thinking outside the yacht. Key points to consider when upgrading superyacht security systems during a refit.

As refit season approaches you may be reviewing existing security hardware and systems.  

Security products have evolved significantly in recent years, as have threats posed to superyachts and their owners. Fortunately advances in technology now provide longer-range, automated and better-integrated systems, reducing false alarms, aiding decision making and ultimately cutting down on extra security related workload for crew.

If you are considering upgrading your security capability, our guide on developments in technology and what to consider will support your decision process.

Refit 570X370

1) HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY CHANGED?

Hardware has improved significantly in terms of performance, installation, operation and integration potential. For example, camera systems have switched from analog to IP with the benefit of ever higher resolution, smaller size, ease of installation and reduced maintenance.

Dedicated radars for the detection of small surface craft, plus monitoring and detection of drones for privacy protection, are increasingly being requested for superyachts. Man-overboard and climber detection are achieved using self-contained sensor pods for improved perimeter security in the immediate vicinity of a vessel.  

Underwater collision avoidance sonars can now provide both navigation aid underway and diver detection while stationary.  

Advanced software integrates traditionally standalone sensors into a complete 360 degree air, surface and underwater security system. Software can now intelligently rank objects around a yacht by pre-defined threat levels to alert crew and minimise false alarms.  

Systems have become more user-friendly. Intuitive touch screen command and control interfaces vastly improve usability for crew and security teams. Mobile tablets, smartphones and smart glasses also present secure and up-to-date information to users on the move.

Ui On Yacht Bridge 570X370

2) DO I NEED TO UPGRADE?

Considering the average specification, design and build time of a large yacht, technology can be nearly ten years old at the time of a first major refit.

‘Off-board’ systems such as NiDAR developed by MARSS automatically monitor, detect and track objects around a yacht presenting relevant information via a single user interface. This enables awareness of unknown air, surface and underwater approaches, giving crew more time to react to potential threats. Likewise, intelligent tracking of known assets (such as tenders, toys, helicopters) helps a yacht stay alert to guest and crew movements, leading to better overall security management.

Integration of other sensors, trackers and non-harming deterrents (such as sonars, searchlights and loudhailers) can be layered on top as required increasing the overall security capability above and below the water. 

Updating vessel security systems is not an all or nothing situation; there are options for every budget and timeframe. Systems are flexible and customisable to specific client requirements and individual yachts.

3) CAN I INTEGRATE EXISTING NETWORKS, INFRASTRUCTURE AND HARDWARE? 

Yes: network, cabling and power can be re-used, as can legacy hardware such as cameras, searchlights and tender trackers. This is subject to product specifications and meeting the overall project brief.

4) WHERE DO I START? 

A half-day site survey will allow MARSS to understand a client's security requirements. The team will also assess potential to reuse existing hardware. 

Key requirements to consider:  

Air - drone detection, helicopter tracking  

Surface - tender & toy monitoring plus detection and tracking of unknown objects up to 10km away

Underwater – own diver and submarine tracking, as well as unknown diver, submersible and ROV awareness

Countermeasures – non harming warning devices such as existing searchlights, directional loudhailers and laser pointers. 

5) HOW SCALABLE IS THE SYSTEM? 

The system is designed to be modular and scalable with installation flexible to a yacht's refit schedule and cruising plans. Additional capabilities such as underwater monitoring, detection and tracking can be integrated at a later date. 

6) HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO INSTALL?

A large-scale project will need around one week for installation, calibration, testing, training and handover. Installation will be subject to the preparation of cabling, mounting plates, brackets and on-board access.  

Top tip: Watch out for lead times on new hardware and possible export restrictions as these can potentially delay a project.

7) DO I NEED TO BE IN DRYDOCK? 

If you require underwater surveillance, a drydock period is likely to be required for installation of a through-hull sonar deployment machine.  All other works can be undertaken in water, however it is recommended to have access to yard facilities that support the preparation of mounts, cabling etc.

8) WHAT SPACE DO I NEED ON-BOARD? 

Sufficient server rack space (4 to 6U) and locations for touch screen displays on the bridge or in a security room.

Ni Dar Ui 570X370

9) IS ONGOING MAINTENANCE REQUIRED?

Very little is needed from a software and user interface point of view, after-sales support can be managed remotely. For hardware, high-end cooled infrared cameras may need to be shipped to the manufacturer for maintenance, which should be taken into account when choosing such equipment. Underwater hardware will likely require routine cleaning.

10) DOES IT INTERFERE WITH OTHER ON-BOARD SYSTEMS? 

No, the system uses passive inputs such as navigation radar data feeds, AIS and gyro to gather security specific information without interference to navigation capability or other vessel systems.

11) IS THE SYSTEM SECURE? 

Best practice is to ‘air-gap’ a security system network to the outside world and limit physical access to equipment on-board. On-demand access controlled by the onboard crew or security team allows for remote support and maintenance. In addition, all security communications are encrypted.

12) WHAT IS THE MANPOWER REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING? 

24/7 manning is not required. As an automated system, crew will only be alerted when an object is perceived to be a threat or breaches designated alarm zones. Due to the easy-to-use interface, training can be completed within a day, if you can use a smartphone, you can use NiDAR.

SUMMARY

New security technology and systems can increase situational awareness around a yacht, improving information and reaction time for decision support, as well as reducing workload allowing busy crew to focus on their primary roles.  

If you are considering upgrading your yacht’s security equipment to include longer range systems looking beyond the hull, please visit the MARSS website for further information.

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