Superyacht Security – The Drone Dimension

Drones aren’t a new threat to superyacht security, we’ve been talking about this for quite some time, so what’s changed?

Putting the nuisance paparazzi issue aside, there are two critical components that we believe are converging right now that are already significantly increasing the threat profile. The first component is the technology itself, and the second is the greater understanding and adoption of drones by criminal gangs.

Like any business, criminals are looking at the technology and identifying what capabilities it can deliver, and how it improves their success. Following reported incidents we know that usage is on the rise, but also that the tactics of deploying the drones are evolving. Multiple drones, overwatch, intensive surveillance periods, are all being deployed to identify when and how to gain access to the yacht.

Technology is advancing at a pace and drones are no different. If we were to relate the development of drones to that of mobile phones, then we’re currently talking Nokia 3210, possibly Nokia 8210 territory. If it follows the same trajectory as mobile phones, and we’ve no reason to believe it wont, then we’ll be witnessing significantly enhanced drone capabilities beyond what is already a highly capable piece of equipment.

What does that mean for superyacht security?

Existing security measures require additional support to mitigate the drone threat. This additional support comes in two parts, detection and countermeasure.

Detection gives you the early warning system, the ability to respond within a timeframe to implement standard operating procedures. Getting a warning means you can take action, evasive or direct. Detection systems will generally be fixed, with installation possible during refit or a new build. Technology used for detection falls into two camps, radar and radio frequency (RF) detection. Radar is inherently expensive in comparison with no clear overall benefit over RF.

Countermeasures for superyachts fall into two camps, physical capture and electronic;

  • Physical capture can sound appealing, you’ve instantly stopped the drone from being able to carry out its mission and the information recorded used by the criminal. If captured you can also provide the drone to law enforcement agencies. The major drawbacks of physical capture systems, dominated by net firing devices, is a limited range to a max of around 80m and a falling object especially if close to other vessels. Any drone operator can easily operate outside of these parameters and carry out what they need to. They can be directly above the yacht at 100m and be completely unaffected.

 

  • Electronic jamming has the capability to affect the drone at distance, denying the ability to get to within a suitable distance to carry out any meaningful activity without any collateral damage. Fixed and mobile solutions are available, and mobile certainly has an advantage for those wanting protection without a desire for refit. How the jamming works is by blocking the command and video signals that drones use, rendering any drone affected as ‘dumb’ – unable to receive input, unable to supply video. As a result they return to home or land. One key advantage of the electronic systems, is that they can be integrated with detection to automate the entire process, detecting and then immediately activating the countermeasure, providing rapid response and mitigation.

If you’re looking for ways in which to deal with a drone security threat we can help. From an assessment of risk to identifying the most appropriate solutions. Contact us to discuss your requirements – 0843 289 2805 or complete our contact form

There is a better way.