- Security Company: “There is no other vulnerable position on this planet than to be on a luxury yacht.”
- Billionaires spend over $10 million to protect guests and information on their luxury yachts.
- Drone attacks and piracy are the biggest threats to ships in open water.
The same is what former Austrian military commander Matthias Fitzthom tells all his “billionaire” clients after a possible drone attack on their luxury yacht, known as Code Yellow.
“Play a song you don’t normally hear or like, like AC/DC’s Hells Bells song,” the CEO of Bespoke Home and Yacht Security told those familiar with the agreed protocol for penetrating the ship’s armored quiet area. “The song is a very clear alert to the whole family to retire immediately.”
With crime levels on the rise across the country and around the world, especially in affluent areas, the wealthy spare no expense in protecting their homes with panic rooms and building a real castle to protect their possessions.
Now they’re doing the same with their luxury yachts ahead of this summer’s cruise season in places like the Mediterranean and the French Riviera.
In other words, the wealthy build “floating forts”.
Security firm Bespoke Home & Yacht Security told insiders that inquiries have increased 1,000% over the past six months. They say, “We are afraid, we are afraid.” It’s affluent regions around the world, Fitzthom said, adding, “There is no other vulnerable position on the planet than being on a luxury yacht.”
The wealthy are shelling out up to $10 million to tactically support their ships from every angle. The culture of sophisticated — and unregulated — drones capable of carrying bombs and chemical weapons, along with hacking and snipers, is today’s biggest threat, according to Bespoke magazine.
“Drones are, and will probably be, the biggest threat facing luxury yachts,” said Dean Cryer, vice president of international operations at Bespoke, whose company works with specialized anti-drone equipment.
Bespoke, according to Sam Thompson, director of JMS Yachting in Monaco, is one of several security firms concerned with the security of Ultra Wealth Management, a management company that looks after clients’ yachts. “These yachts are under attack,” Thompson said. “There is extreme vigilance on board these yachts.”
Target? “We’re building Fort Knox,” says Fitzthom, 51, a former special operations commander in the Austrian army. “Super yachts are at very high risk,” he added, explaining that the risk is “10 or 15 times greater” today compared to the past few years, as they have to protect assets and information as well as life.
While Bespoke declined to comment on the nature of its clients, the company told Insider, “Most of our clients are very high net worth individuals – a home in Los Angeles, London, Monaco and the Caribbean, with a private jet and a luxury yacht.” Crayer said.
It’s also important to know all the weaknesses in your customers’ lives, Fitzthom said, which requires careful knowledge.
“I need to know more than my lawyer or client’s wife. I want to know about her second and third life. All sexual topics, all lovers, all apartments that no one knows because they met [his mistress]Fitzthum said of the client’s risk assessment.
According to Fitzthum, customers rarely shy away from the incredible price tag, which can easily reach $1 million and cost as much as $10 million and more to install Bespoke’s “Unique Safety World.” With valuables on board, the term “valuable cargo” takes on a new meaning.
“I’ve seen hundreds of millions of dollars worth of artwork—everything you can imagine,” Fitzthom said of the world-class sculptures and paintings aboard the temporary floating museums. “I’ve seen Picassos and Van Gogh on luxury yachts.”
It’s a drop in the bucket to protect property, not to mention the safety of life on board – there are typically about 20 guests and 100 crew members on these ships.
Although Bespoke declined to provide details of any incidents to clients due to strict non-disclosure agreements, clients have noted that the biggest danger today could be mega yachts docking in ports to refuel. “The number of attacks on luxury yachts is increasing sharply, particularly in the harbor or at mooring in the bay. This is new,” Fitzthom said, calling it “a huge problem for piracy and opportunity.”
Protection includes long, medium and short range detection, ocean detection and defense, and underwater detection. There is no fingerprint reader to unlock doors on these ships. “The fingerprint reader is bullshit because any intruder can cut your fingers and unlock any device,” Fitzthom said, referring to his favorite palm vein scanner. “You can only open the door while you are alive because veins can only be read when you are alive. Once someone cuts off your arm, it becomes useless.”
The package could include highly trained ex-royal marines, naval cybersecurity, spotlights and sirens, thermal imaging cameras to identify intruders in inclement weather, and heavy engineering in armored and bulletproof panic rooms and safe havens.
“They are sealed in such a way that no gas or mist can pass through these doors. No liquids – that is the key,” Fitzthom said. Armored and bulletproof tenders – the small boats used to carry passengers from larger ships to the port – are essential if the customer wants to dine on the beach.
Fitzthom, who compared his multi-layered protection systems to a spider’s web, issued a final warning: “Anyone trying to attack this web is in dire straits.”
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