In many parts of the world, ships and boats are often hijacked. Understandably, there’s a concern that hijackings of U.S. vessels could become more common.
If something like a hijacking occurs, new hardware allows the operator to signal an immediate alert. ACR Electronics and KVH Industries recently came out with ship security alert systems that are capable of alerting authorities to a hijacking attempt.
Both units, ACR’s ThunderBird SSAS and KVH’s eTrac SSAS, have two “panic” buttons. One would probably be located near the helm and the other in a somewhat hidden location. If someone attempts to hijack a boat, a crewmember would simply push one of the buttons instantly sending a signal containing the boat’s identification, time and location.
Major differences between the two units are that KVH’s has a 12-channel GPS receiver and uses the Inmarsat mini-C satellite communications system to send an alert. ACR’s ThunderBird has a GPS interface and sends its messages via the 406-MHz search-and-rescue frequency.
In either case, it’s a swift and certain method for sending a distress message, especially compared to fumbling with a radio mike while trying to hide from someone with a gun. — M. Crowley