In the context of maritime security the idea of perimeter defense often defaults to a static defense concept. For example, underwater fences or netting to restrict diver access to property. However, perimeter defense takes on much more complex characteristics when involving a moving vessel such as a merchant ship.
Merchant cargo ships are sitting ducks. They are slow with no weapons except for the occasional armed security team. Even then teams of personnel are limited by operator skill and training, equipment quality and seagoing conditions among other things.
Placing a moving fence around the ship is not possible. Believe it or not, fencing has been employed as a defense measure. Crews found the barbed wire to be cumbersome and often injurious to the seafarer. It is time consuming for the limited crews aboard merchant ships to unstow and stow barbed wire on a regular basis.
The most effective solution to date has been embarked security teams aboard merchant cargo vessels. They act as a virtual fence to the vessel, defending it against threats when they arise.
Although effective for the most part, security teams have their limitations. For one, armed security personnel can only see as far as the ship’s height of eye allows. And visual site is limited by weather conditions, sea state, time of day
Nonetheless, vigilant armed security teams can provide enough advanced notice of potential attacks to protect the vessel. In many cases this is exactly what happens, when armed security teams are used.
In merchant shipping, because it is a profit driven industry, decisions such as embarking armed security teams strictly come down to economics.
As innovation increases, driven by economics, we may see a time when the virtual fence provided by armed security personnel is replaced by more automated monitoring and defense equipment.
Having defense capabilities not subject to things such as weather and human error will mean more robust protection for the client that may be turn out to be more cost effective as well.