Protecting Maritime Personnel – Developments in Modern Body Armor

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March 7, 2018

PRESS RELEASE – (Safeguard Armor) – The Maritime field is changing fast under the threats of piracy, international terrorist and random attacks on ships and personnel. This puts great strain on the crew both physically and mentally. Because of the environment there is an extremely high likelihood of injury. This is why proper preparation remains the most important factor as it ensures you are able to deal with threats confidently and to the best of your ability.

Piracy and hijacking are now the main threats to the maritime personnel, causing significant financial and material damages to the industry. Most of the commonly used maritime routes nowadays are at a high risk of pirate attacks, which is why vessels and crews require protection from trained, professional security operatives with conflict management and weapons handling skills. They also need equipment that allows them to fulfil their working responsibilities while remaining safe on the job. Adequate preparation includes equipping maritime personnel with the appropriate level of  protection, which includes selecting the correct body armor solution.

Body Armor with new buoyancy technology

Recent advancements in technology have allowed body armor manufacturers to develop carriers with increased buoyancy to meet the requirements of the maritime industry personnel in terms of safety. The most common problem of this type of body armor is its weight and restrictive nature. Modern body armor is thin,  and lightweight body armor incorporates temperature regulating technologies to keep the wearer cool in hot weather and during prolonged use.

Recent technologies have been successful in making body armor cooler and increasing airflow, which is particularly beneficial for environments with intense humidity and heat, such as the maritime industry.  Materials like Cordura and CoolMax have improved the cooling and weight properties of body armor, and now allow for greater range of mobility and comfort during prolonged use. Modern Kevlar bulletproof vests are designed to be light and thin, and can be worn underneath or over a firefighter’s ensemble without restricting movement and speed.

New types of body armor incorporate inflating technology, so that upon contact with water, the body armor provides an extra layer of safety for any personnel working in the maritime industry.  In the event of an injury from a pistol or melee weapon, new Inflatable Body Armor System automatically inflates within seconds of coming into contact with water, which means the person will remain afloat without any effort on his or her part. This upgrade on existing buoyant body armor models is a huge leap forward in guaranteeing the safety of maritime personnel in their line of work.

Other existing body armor products are also available on the market that also inflate upon contact with water. However, they are known to expand outside the armor, which runs the risk of damage if the wearer is attacked by gunfire. BCB’s Inflatable Body Armor System is the first of its kind with the capacity to handle 275 Newtons of buoyancy, which means that even if the wearer is carrying heavy gear, the armor will still keep them afloat.

Products for the maritime industry personnel typically focus on different issues, such as providing body armor with better UV protection and odor control for instance. An added benefit of many of these products is increased comfort as manufacturers use softer materials. One surprising issue for buoyant body armor many comes from the bulletproof materials themselves; allergy to Kevlar, which is commonly used, is quite common and this can pose a significant inconvenience (even health hazard) to people working in the maritime industry whose work requires them to wear body armor. This has prompted certain revisions in the materials considered by manufacturers for the making of body armor and now certain floatation devices and buoyancy aids are available as part of body armor, that rely on different materials to offset the heavy reliance on Kevlar products.

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