Sometimes solving a problem requires looking at it from a completely different angle. Crewshield adopted exactly that philosophy when designing their new Citadel.
Mike Samways, a former Royal Navy Officer, took the idea of a citadel hidden in the bowels of a ship and turned it on its head. He designed a citadel than can be contained inside a high cube container so that it can be left on deck.
This might sound counter-intuitive to anyone that has ever faced the prospect of having to install an onboard citadel. But Mike Samways was looking at the problem from the viewpoint of a potential rescuer.
Although having to work their way through the ship might slow hijackers down, the disadvantage is that it also holds true for the rescuers. Add to that the time it can take for rescuers to gain clearance for a boarding team, time which can be completely cut out if all the ship’s personnel are secured in an external citadel. If the crew are in imminent danger and it is deemed necessary, the rescue team can merely clear the deck of attackers with a sniper team without needing to board the vessel.
How long does it take a rescue team to work their way through the ship, in the dark, to find the pirates attacking it? In one incident, pirates threatened crew safely locked down in a citadel with an RPG. There wasn’t space to arm the weapon, but in the heat of the moment the crew in the citadel didn’t realise this and came out with their hands up. What would the crew have given for a more efficient rescue?
This isn’t the only benefit. These new citadels would save time as there would be no need to carry out hot work fortifications below deck, and it would save ship owners money as they could, potentially, buy one portable crewshield citadel and move it between ships as and when they needed to transit the high risk areas. If, for example, a ship owner had 5 ships but only ever one in a high risk area at a time, they would only need one of Crewshield’s Citadels as opposed to the time and materials to fortify an area inside each ship.
Another bonus is that this is a purpose built solution. This isn’t a portaloo crammed into the engine room full of diesel fumes; it’s fully fitted with generator, comms equipment, seats and hammocks and sanitation. This a point best appreciated by the crew faced with the prospect of an uncertain wait.
Flipping the problem on its head like this is, I’m sure, something that will stimulate a great deal of debate. Is this a practical solution? Can we learn from it? A citadel is an important part of a layered defence strategy, as advocated by BMP 4, and can buy the crew vital time during a pirate attack.
The hope is never to have to use one, but peace of mind from having one fitted to protect crew and thus vessel and cargo, cannot be underestimated.