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PapaSquatch

Cruisers and terrorism

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Maybe this has been discussed but I missed it. If so, I apologize up front.

 

I wanted to be in security/law enforcement up till my 20's. I'm 53 now. God had other plans, so I am not in that field. But, it's still a big passion of mine. Now that I've put that out there, on with my questions. I'm positive the questions will make some nervous from "never thought of that" to I have an "alternative" reason for asking. I also know, for security reasons, any answers to the questions could be very generic because the real answer does not need to be in the public eye. I'm not seeking specific information, but I would like enough information to calm the mind.

 

My Queen and I have cruised once on Disney and twice on Royal Caribbean. We are looking at different cruiselines for this year. I have never seen any official security aboard the ships. I know they are there, and I'm sure they have special training and weapons needed for a violent onboard incident. Am I correct? Or is security simply there for the occasional disruptive guest or crime?

This next question is what concerns me most. When at port, whether on day one or at the various destinations, the ships are relatively safe. But what about when at sea? Cruising the Caribbean, Cuba, Bahamas, etc, ships are close enough to land masses for smaller sea going vessels to come up to the ships. Small aircraft especially could reach a ship.

Have the cruiselines taking any recourses to thwart an at sea attack? Are cruise ships prepared for a physical attack from sea or air, and are they prepared for a potential "boarding"? By sea, a potential threat could be identified early, hopefully early enough. The height of the ships side would make boarding difficult, but not impossible. Aircraft gives a whole other threat level though. Cruiseship cannot defend agaist that unless there are deck guns under the waterslides.

 

I hope I am not asking a potentially unanswerable question, but for security reasons I understand.

Thank you.

 

 

 

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I’m sure Cruise Lines does take security very, very serious. I have been crossing the Bay of Aden few time and the level of security has been different - probably due to different thread levels, but quite sure there were armed personnel onboard, however didn’t see them but outside deck 5 was not accessible.

In 2011 an armed private patrol boat did follow Brilliance of the Seas during the Bay of Aden passage and we did have some safety drills.

 

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Posted (edited)

hallasm's experience was similar to ours and other cruisers thereabouts & in the Indian Ocean, particularly around the Horn of Africa. That was more piracy than terrrorism by Somalis, many of them fishermen, who found that seizing and ransoming ships & their crews was far more lucrative than fishing.

They mainly attacked cargo ships, such as the container ship MV Maersk Alabama - which inspired the dramatised film "Captain Phillips" . It's much easier to board a loaded cargo ships and to contain (and care for) a dozen crewmen than thousands of passengers on a cruise ship, but there were attempts including an MSC cruise ship which friends were travelling on. 

On our small cruise ship, for a few days the low stern deck was fenced-off at the rail, razor wire was fitted to the oceanside of other open decks, and fire hoses were set out and readied as makeshift water-cannon. There was also a blackout at night. We weren't escorted, though I have little doubt that there were warships of various nations over the horizon and that the captain had direct contact with them. I don't know whether / what firearms cruise ships carry - nor am I likely to know.  As with 99% of cruise ships, we had no incidents.

That piracy lasted about (?) 5 years and was about (?) 12 years ago - I've not heard of any incidents since.

 

Decades ago terrorists boarded a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. I don't recall the name of the ship or circumstances (google can probably lead you to it) but I'm fairly certain that an elderly wheelchair-bound American died.

 

Yes, undoubtedly crew are trained to counter terrorism.

And although it seems more geared to countering the smuggling on-board of illicit booze than AK-47s :classic_wink:, there is a high level of security. 

 

I don't know the threat level of terrorism on a cruise ship on the high seas. It could be a tempting target but one which presents all sorts of problems to the terrorist. 

 

As for attack from the air, I hope your "deck guns under the waterslides" was in jest. 

I rate an attack by aircraft as an undefendable but exceptionally tiny risk, and some spooked crewman loosing off a few rounds at a coastguard aircraft or inquisitive pleasure flight, or accidentally blowing up the gun and anyone nearby, or of some drunken passenger trying to nail the guy who "looked at his girl" as much greater risks. :classic_rolleyes:

On the other hand, Hollywood could probably incorporate it  :classic_biggrin:  

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

     

Edited by John Bull

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There is a small ship's security force onboard all ships, many are recruited from former military or law enforcement personnel.  As to training, weapons, and security measures, this is all spelled out in the ship's ISPS (International Ship and Port Security) code, but this is a secure document to the point that onboard crew are only trained in what their particular security duties are in various scenarios, and only the Captain knows the entire policy and procedures, so getting any details is impossible, and discussing the ISPS policies with passengers can get crew dismissed.

 

Piracy exists in various areas of the world, notably the Horn of Africa as others have mentioned, but also places like the Straits of Malacca, and the port of Rio de Janeiro.  The ship's ISPS code and their insurance underwriter will require different levels of security in these areas, as well as the setting of MARSEC (maritime security) levels (much like the US Homeland Security alert levels) in countries as part of the ISPS code.  These various levels of MARSEC trigger different responses on the ship and in the port according to their ISPS code.

 

The best defense a cruise ship has is its speed.  Trying to board a large ship going 20+ knots is almost impossible.  Firing RPG's into the ship, unlike as depicted in Hollywood, will have little real damage to the ship and will not pose a serious threat to its speed or seaworthiness.  Unless you were to tie up a suicide boat full of explosives next to the ship to keep it alongside, you couldn't blow a hole big enough to cause serious concern, let alone sink the ship.

 

As for air attack, again, unless you have guided weapons on the aircraft, and large ones at that (think military jets and their huge payloads), you can't sink a ship, and the ship can sustain minor damage until a national force can come and shoot down the terrorist aircraft.  Suicide aircraft, a la 9-11, could cause a major fire, but even the Kamikaze pilots in WWII found it hard to sink a ship.

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3 hours ago, John Bull said:

 

Decades ago terrorists boarded a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. I don't recall the name of the ship or circumstances (google can probably lead you to it) but I'm fairly certain that an elderly wheelchair-bound American died.

 

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

     

I believe that you are referring to this incident: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achille_Lauro_hijacking

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5 hours ago, PapaSquatch said:

Maybe this has been discussed but I missed it. If so, I apologize up front.

 

I have never seen any official security aboard the ships. I know they are there, and I'm sure they have special training and weapons needed for a violent onboard incident. Am I correct?  yes.  they are well versed in  Pirate repelling and other violence Or is security simply there for the occasional disruptive guest or crime?

This next question is what concerns me most. When at port, whether on day one or at the various destinations, the ships are relatively safe. But what about when at sea? Cruising the Caribbean, Cuba, Bahamas, etc, ships are close enough to land masses for smaller sea going vessels to come up to the ships. Small aircraft especially could reach a ship.

Have the cruiselines taking any recourses to thwart an at sea attack? absolutely.   many/most ports  the ship is escorted by the local  Coast Guard. Everyone learned a lesson from the USS COLE incident Are cruise ships prepared for a physical attack from sea or air, and are they prepared for a potential "boarding"?  very much so.  in fact  you can sometimes catch the crew practicing for  these events during port calls.    By sea, a potential threat could be identified early, hopefully early enough. The height of the ships side would make boarding difficult, but not impossible. Aircraft gives a whole other threat level though. Cruiseship cannot defend agaist that unless there are deck guns under the waterslides.  your average Pirate does not have air capability.  

 

I hope I am not asking a potentially unanswerable question, but for security reasons I understand.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 the Military( pick a 1st world nation with  sea power)  is never very far away either.   in Mr Spooks' career as a Navy Officer, he  more than once had a friendly  conversation with cruise ships as they passed in the night and  a DDG can be there pretty damn quick and present a very  threatening  rebuttal to any Somali incursion attempt or to provide assistance of a medical nature( or transferring refugees)  .  

 

we once had a bridge tour on a Royal Ship.   the level of security we had to go through just to get down that passageway was more than enough to satisfy Mr Spook's ingrained habits.

 

one of our favorite things to do as we leave/enter a port is to watch the   CG escort do it's thing.   I always feel sorry for the poor kid manning the gun at the fore.  

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OP:

Read The Outlaw Sea (nonfiction) by William Langewiesche and you'll learn all sorts of interesting things about the maritime industry (including piracy).

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Cruise ships might seem like soft targets but they're really not.  You mentioned you were concerned about them while at sea cruising the Caribbean, etc.  First, like chengkp75 said, it is almost impossible to board a cruise ship at speed.  Two, it would be extremely difficult to plan for an attack at sea on a cruise ship without intelligence agencies picking up on it.  

 

As for on board security...you won't see specific security plans online, but I assure you they are pretty well prepared.  In my line of work, I've had the privilege of getting to know several on on-board security staff.  Many have very interesting backgrounds like Special Forces, etc.  

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On the LAND side of it..

MARSEC has now demanded that our Caribbean Ports be secured

to the point of impinging on my photographic efforts.

To me it seems paranoid, but I'm sure they have their reasons.

 

What used to be wide-open spaces to photograph cruise ships as they came in

(first two pics)

are now chain-link fenced areas like a ruddy prison...

and as for trying to arrange a ship visit, to get on board for a few hrs

you can forget that!!

 

Those wide-open spaces now look like the last few pics

It seems a bit extreme for a quiet Caribbean island

with no examples of religious extremism yet...

.

Shallow-477.jpg

ShallowDraught-402.jpg

PortSecurity-814.jpg

PortSecurity-826.jpg

PortSecurity-872.jpg

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Thank you once again Osama binLaden, you S-o-B!

His 9/11 efforts have completely screwed up our Western World

 

Air Travel now sucks: fortunately Cruise Travel isn't nearly as bad.

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I recall seeing (presumably armed) small Coast Guard craft escorting cruise ships in and out of US ports - and local military boats elsewhere.  Once a cruise ship is at sea, it’s speed is a great defense.

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US ports often have an armed patrol boat around the ship.  I was told they are looking for packages thrown off the ship by crew? Drugs?

Last year when cruising with CMV we had armed guards join the ship at Goa and leave us when we entered the Mediterranean from the Suez Canal.  Photo if them doing training,

ED8D6113-6741-4ED7-A5EF-0871506AE3E2.thumb.jpeg.7922d103e201828b2ad62111c1d2e71c.jpeg

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9 hours ago, PapaSquatch said:

Cruiseship cannot defend agaist that unless there are deck guns under the waterslides.

That's a kind of funny image.......like the SAMs hidden in Disneyland's Space Mountain. 

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3 minutes ago, Gwendy said:

US ports often have an armed patrol boat around the ship.  I was told they are looking for packages thrown off the ship by crew? Drugs?

 

Not really.  It's mostly to keep other vessels away from the ship.  

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18 minutes ago, Aquahound said:

 

Not really.  It's mostly to keep other vessels away from the ship.  

 Especially the idiots who forget the law of mass tonnage.  And the rules of the road.  

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17 minutes ago, spookwife said:

 Especially the idiots who forget the law of mass tonnage.  And the rules of the road.  

Not really.  They won't care about some idiot on a jet ski who cuts in front of the ship.  While the "rule of gross tonnage" is a law of physics, most of those idiots actually have the right of way, but they tend to push that right to the exclusion of common sense and physics.

 

The USCG Sea Marshals are there to look for credible threats and deter them.  Now, a huge container ship or tanker bearing down on a cruise ship is a totally different scenario.

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Friend of mine who retired on the same day that I did went to work for Celebrity. He is a firearms expert and the head of our Swat team.

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Wow. Thank you all for putting the wandering mind to ease. I know deep down I knew security, especially at sea, would be good, but it's just one of them things ya know. I really appreciate all the different pcs of info, I had no idea! I'l have to watch more closely  on the next trip while entering/leaving the ports.

And yes, JB, guns under the waterslides were in jest. They're really under the swimming pools 🤫

Again, thanks folks. Now to get that October trip booked.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Gwendy said:

Never mess with a dude with AK47 and finger on the trigger. Threat from the air will likely be an IED carrying drone attack than from an actual aircraft. Watch your six and twelve o'clock people. It's a jungle out there.

ED8D6113-6741-4ED7-A5EF-0871506AE3E2.thumb.jpeg.7922d103e201828b2ad62111c1d2e71c.jpeg

 

Edited by sfaaa

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If you want to see what it's like for a small boat to be tied to a moving ship (and this was a small ship at relatively low speed), look at what the "professional mariners" on Whale Wars did when attempting to launch their boat while underway:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4lk68wKfZM

 

The expression on the face of the "Captain" says it all about their experience at going to sea.

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Quite a few ex-Gurkhas work as security for NCL. I spotted their crossed kukri badges - they spotted my UK veterans badge - thumbs up of mutual recognition.

 

I was always VERY glad that they were on our side!

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For what it is worth, I feel much safer on a cruise ship than driving on Interstate Route 95 in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area, something that I do at least a few times each week as a snowbird in the area.  And don’t get me started about Miami Gardens.  I took the wrong exit off of I-95 last year and couldn’t get out of there fast enough!

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1 hour ago, chengkp75 said:

If you want to see what it's like for a small boat to be tied to a moving ship (and this was a small ship at relatively low speed), look at what the "professional mariners" on Whale Wars did when attempting to launch their boat while underway:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4lk68wKfZM

 

The expression on the face of the "Captain" says it all about their experience at going to sea.

.

Geez, they definitely knew what they were doing, huh??

.

Sea Diamond sinks in the Aegean.jpg

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The BBC Series "Sea City", about Southampton, showed a mini sub which checked the underside of the QM2 in port. I can't remember whether it was the police doing this, but it wasn't for maintenance but security.

I have watched security running along the deck to check out a strange vessel on the horizon- they were very prompt, and obviously serious. It turned out to be a barge being towed, which made a strange silhouette.

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