Using a Virtual Reality (VR) package to provide interactive training for maritime crews in response to unpredictable terrorist/piracy attacks on cruise ships

  • Robinson, Selina (PI)

Project Details


Despite all too frequent attacks on ‘soft’ vessels (including cruise ships, merchant ships and yachts), training and guidance aimed at enabling crew members to mount a quick and effective response is currently inconsistent and limited. In 2014, 325 such attacks were reported, during which 30 seafarers were killed, 86 were kidnapped, 148 were taken hostage and 59 were injured. Recent incidents also indicate that comprehensive training in hostile takeover situations would be valuable for all maritime crew members, not just those navigating the traditional ‘high-risk’ areas such as Somalia. In 2020, for example, events following the discovery of a group of Nigerian stowaways onboard the Nave Andromeda, an oil tanker off the coast of the Isle of Wight, escalated to a point where the lives of the crew were deemed to be at considerable risk.

Current training in pirate/terrorist response by maritime crew is guided by the Management Practice for Protection (BMP5) manual, however the specific procedures and guidance vary widely according to location and management/flag status of the vessel. Managing the physical space of the maritime domain, securing and preventing terrorist attacks, and navigating a tangle of dated legal clutter (including the laws of the flag state, international law, exclusive economic zones, and domestic law) is fraught with complications. A standardised, evidence-based training programme would provide a valuable step forward in protecting maritime vessels and their crew.

The current project proposes a Virtual Reality (VR) package that will provide interactive training aimed at teaching effective and efficient approaches to unpredictable events, including terrorist attacks. The simulated environment will allow for learning objectives to be demonstrated and practiced with ongoing feedback, enabling learners to experience high risk situations in a safe and replicable virtual space. With the technology to host VR capabilities becoming more affordable, this is an opportunity to take formidable steps forward to strengthen security and risk management capabilities for an under-developed discipline for cruise ships.
Effective start/end date1/01/2131/07/21


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