London: A British team have come up with what they believe is the ultimate piracy panic room, namely a converted twenty foot container. The secure box works both onshore and at sea.
Mike Samways, managing director of Crewshield and a former boarding officer with the UK’s Royal Navy, explains why he thinks the system he invented has such potential.
“By comparing case studies of hijackings,” he says, “it is clear that whilst no one approach to countering the problem is foolproof or indeed without risk, once pirates have successfully boarded the vessel the only technique that has proved routinely successful is for the crew to shut down the main engines and retreat to a safe area or citadel where they can await the arrival of maritime security forces.”
With regard to this approach it should be noted that most western militaries will have strict rules of engagement and often will not attempt to board a pirated vessel without two way comms with the master or accurate plans of the vessel including the citadel location, nor a manifest of exactly who is onboard the vessel with their locations.
The Crewshield system being both armoured and deck mounted mitigates these criteria as it allows a far greater range of options to the relieving forces such as the use of sniper teams from helicopters to secure the crew’s location hours before the arrival of a naval vessel.
“The use of citadels is fast becoming the preferred method for ships to evade capture and or hostage taking where pirates have already boarded,” maintains Samways.
However, getting an internal citadel fitted is both expensive and time consuming, requiring up to five days retrofitting.
In response to this problem Crewshield designed a portable and easily deployable citadel based within a standard shipping container.
In outline the ISO container unit is common to every major port in the world and marine craneage system allowing it to be rapidly fitted to ships without the need for external modification. The unit is armoured, contains its own air supply, electrical system, communications suite, external CCTV and can offer the facility to shut down most marine diesel systems remotely from within the unit. Each unit can accommodate 24 personnel for up to 96 hours. Best of all, the box can be loaded and installed in just one hour. It is then possible to enter and lock down the unit within 60 seconds with a trained team.
Rather than a permanent fixture onboard ship, part of the success of the Crewshield system is that it can be quickly and easily cycled through a fleet or even leased out ensuring that the cost is amortised as efficiently as possible.
Areas of specific interest for Crewshield at the moment include seismic vessels, rig support vessels and rig moves and dormant rigs off West Africa.
Having spent two years in R&D Crewshield was launched in April last year.
The high endurance variant that Crewshield offers can be supplied ex-works for around $250,000. “This may seem a lot,” says Samways, “but it must be considered that this can be used across numerous vessels and may also have an effect to suppress insurance premiums on high-risk transits.” [02/07/14]