Fortifying the Seas: Essential Shipboard Security Equipment Checklist

Maritime security is a growing occupation around the world.

The threat of piracy looms every time a ship sets sail in foreign waters.

Many former Special Forces guys are stepping up to meet the challenge and are hired on as security on these ships.

Check out this list of equipment used by shipboard security contractors overseas and in harms way.

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You are going to need comfortable boots that dry quickly. You are on your feet a lot walking the ships outer rail and up and down hundreds of steps.

These boots hit all the sweet spots as they are comfortable, dry quickly and are really lightweight.

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When you are working security aboard a ship you must have the very best binoculars to see the enemy from afar. No time for second hand binoculars. Professional contractors use these. The Canon Image Stabilizing 10×30 Binocular is an exceptional optical device that combines powerful magnification with image stabilization technology. With its 10x magnification, it brings distant subjects into sharp focus, making it perfect for birdwatching, sports events, or outdoor adventures.

The built-in Image Stabilizer effectively reduces image shake, ensuring a steady and clear view even when handheld, a feature particularly valuable for extended observations. Its compact and lightweight design, weighing approximately 1.4 pounds, enhances portability, while the 30mm objective lenses provide bright and detailed images. This binocular is also water-resistant, making it suitable for various outdoor conditions. With Canon’s reputation for quality optics, the Image Stabilizing 10×30 Binocular is a fantastic choice for those seeking a versatile and reliable binocular for their observation needs.

The size of the Canon 12×36 Image Stabilization II Binoculars is a compromise between capability and size. They feel a little bulky, but this is expected with the IS feature. It is very easy to adapt to the feel of these binos and they balance well.

They provide a sharp and crisp image and the IS feature is amazing. It does not compensate for the larger hand movements, but does stabilize all the minor shakes that come from hand holding a 12x bino.

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Contractors were simple flight suits during work.

No excess stuff to tuck in or worry about. An easy one to jump into is the US Air Force Style Military Camouflage flight suit.

These suits have just enough small pockets to put any excess gear that you may need like a cell phone or knife or whatever else you want to add.


Inside your flight sight or tucked into your plate carrier you will always carry a knife or multi-tool.

We like the SOG Multi-Tool as it is simple and just gets the job done with a good price.

You get the value of having a small knife and many other tools like a screwdriver to help you get your job done.


Security contractors keep it simple again by using a Protec helmet.

You don’t want to fall down and crack your head when you are running across a slick deck on a moving ship.

Same for riding in a smaller boat with big waves – you don’t want to get thrown back and slam your noggin.


If your going to work on a boat and be hanging off the rails your going to need to have some type of Life Preserver on.

If you fall over in the middle of a skirmish with pirates you may have to wait a few hours for the ship security to neutralize the enemy and get the boat turned around to come and get you.

A good life preserver will come in handy while your waiting in the big blue bath tub.


The contractors will obviously wear body armor or what they refer to as a Plate Carrier .

Yes; they can be bulky and hot but that is the price you will pay for a little extra padding where you need it during a gun battle.

Get used to it as you will always want to have this on during a top side gun battle with pirates. Inside the plate carriers you will have bulletproof ceramics.

These plates provide protection against threats such as 5.56 mm FMJ, .223 remington, .30 carbine FMJ and grenade shrapnel.

These are many different types of plates so you will need to decide what level of protection you need and what price you can spend.


You will want to have one magazine in the chamber of your M4 and have several chest mags – which are just carriers that attach to your plate carrier.

The chest mags ride in front on the lower part of of your chest so that you can access them at any time very easily.

A small bungie cord keeps them from falling out when your running and jumping around the deck looking to blast another pirate boat out of the water.


Yes; Navy SEALs and security contractors do wear Mechanix Wear gloves. You can get a set for $20 or so and they go a long way to help protect your hands in places where you can get scratched, cut and banged up easily.

These gloves also absorb sweat to help you hold on to weapons and ladders better.

This is a small price to pay for something as easy as a good tactical glove.


. If you get knocked overboard you will want a good strobe light to help signal the boat back to pick you up.

The Streamlight Sidewinder Military Tactical Flashlight is waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes and water resistant for much longer.

This strobe also has a good flashlight so it is multi-functional.


Security contractors keep it simple with a single point sling to keep their weapons close to them when moving.

You don’t want to slip on an oil patch on the deck of the ship and lose your weapon overboard.

You can fall with the single point sling and still retain your weapon for use.


All contractors wear helmet cameras to record the action taking place.

The GoPro HD Helmet Hero is more than capable of recording all of the work taking place and stays out of your way up top.

Later on you get to kick back with a beer and watch all the great moves and shots you took to knock out the bad guys.


All of the contractors are very seasoned veterans and can shoot the eye out of a cat at 100 yards.

Some stay with the old school iron sights on their M4 rifle while others throw on a EOTech XPS2-0 HOLOgraphic Weapon Sight to keep things fun.

Using a scope is great buy you also need to know how to remove it quickly if the battery dies or it gets crushed after dropping it.

Shooting with iron sights is a great skill to have.

Why is shipboard security needed in International waters?

Shipboard security is essential in international waters due to a myriad of threats and challenges that vessels face when navigating through these unregulated expanses. Firstly, the pervasive issue of piracy continues to pose a significant danger to ships and their crews. Various regions, such as the waters off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Guinea, have been notorious hotspots for pirate attacks. Shipboard security measures, including the presence of armed security personnel and fortified security protocols, are essential to deter and defend against these criminal activities, ensuring the safety of both personnel and cargo.

Secondly, the threat of terrorism cannot be underestimated in international waters. Terrorist organizations have demonstrated their capability to use small boats and waterborne tactics to conduct attacks or transport illicit materials. Ships passing through international waters are potential targets for terrorist activities that could lead to catastrophic consequences. Therefore, shipboard security is necessary not only to safeguard the vessel and its contents but also to prevent maritime terrorism that could disrupt global trade and pose a threat to national security.

Additionally, shipboard security plays a pivotal role in combating various forms of illicit activities, including drug trafficking, human smuggling, and arms smuggling, which often occur in the open waters beyond national jurisdiction. To counter these activities, ship operators need to implement robust security measures, collaborate with international law enforcement agencies, and ensure that their vessels are not unwittingly used for illegal purposes. By doing so, shipboard security contributes to the broader international efforts to maintain the rule of law and order on the high seas, protecting the interests of nations and the global community.

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