Piracy and pirates plague the seas and threaten global trade and commerce. Cargo ships are particularly vulnerable to pirates as they are slow, travel in remote parts of the oceans and are not armed adequately most of the times.
Somalian pirates are particularly infamous for being brutal and aggressive towards the crew. Thus, in order to keep the cargo, ship and the crew safe, various anti-piracy measures are taken along with hiring maritime security agencies. Many ships also use anti-piracy weapons to deter and defend against pirates.
Here is the list of the most high-tech anti-piracy weapons deployed in ships to fight pirates.
1) Anti-Piracy Laser Device
Anti-Piracy Laser Device is a device developed by a British firm called BAE systems. It is a laser which can be used during commercial shipping against piracy. It is effective at a distance of about 1.5 km. it is used to distract the pirates in order to make them incapable of aiming properly without permanently damaging their eyes. It can be called as a warning device. Normal sunglasses cannot filter out this light and hence they will not help in avoiding it.
2) Water Cannon
A water cannon is an anti-piracy device (non-lethal) normally used on merchant ships. This device can shoot a high-velocity stream of water which is impenetrable. it is so strong that it can blow away the pirates which are trying to come on board the ship. It can also fill up the enemy ship with water to decrease their speed and disturb their maneuverability. This is a very powerful system but still non-lethal.
The device usually consists of a powerful water cannon placed strategically all around the ship. They draw the seawater and can be easily controlled from the bridge. This happens are also highly effective in controlling fires and contributing to the overall safety of the vessel.
Photo courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/guano/3264971746
3) Electric Secure Fence
An Electric Secure Fence system is a system which consists of an electrical fence surrounding the shape and hence preventing pirates from coming on board. The system also helps in detecting a boarding attempt by warning the crew and can also scare away the trespassers by starting a very loud siren and floodlights. It is however non-lethal.
The system of fencing is collapsible and can be removed when not in use. It needs to partly do so when it is entering a harbor all when another board needs to come alongside.
Pics courtesy: http://www.delticgroup.com/secureshipfencingsystem.html
4) Nets or Boat Traps
A boat trap is a kind of system which is used to stop pirates and their boats when they come closer to a merchant vessel. It is a ballistic net. It is a good system which can help in defense of a vessel while avoiding the need to use guns or other such lethal weapons and posing threat to the crew or other people if it is near a harbor. Destructive and extensively tested in the Caribbean and US waters. Most of the time, they are used to entrap smaller boats which may be operated by terrorists, pirates or smugglers. It is an efficient system to be used in crowded areas such as the Gulf of Aden.
5) Slippery Foam or Mobile Denial System
Mobile Dual System or a Mobility Denial System is a non-lethal strategy used to slow down the movement of trespassers rather, avoid them from climbing the decks of a ship. Slippery foam or substance is used to make the deck of a ship slippery and therefore how to walk or stand on. This substance has a high viscosity. The substances also normally non-lethal. this method is being highly used by military and security forces.
6) Long Range Acoustic Device
Abbreviated as LRAD, a Long Range Acoustic Device is a device which is capable of emitting a 151 dB sound. It can do so within 30 degrees of wherever the device is pointing. It is used to drive away pirates. It was developed by an American technology corporation. It can produce a high pitched sound which is painful to human ears. In fact, it can cause permanent ear damage. It was about 210 kilograms and has a range of about 300 to 500 meters.
It is mainly used by the military but has also been used on some cargo and cruise ships. The sound wave can be canceled with the help of normal earplugs and hence minimize its effect. This is one of the biggest disadvantages of the device.
7) Foul Smelling Liquid or Liquid Deterrent System
The system comes from the International Maritime Security Network of the United States. In the system, the approaching pirates are showered with a foul-smelling liquid. This liquid is capable of stinking and burning. It causes such a burning sensation and emits such a foul smell that the pirates feel the need to jump into the water and hence it prevents a pirate attack.
The substances are usually shot towards the target with the help of a stun gun. It is similar to a taser gun except that the use of liquid streams. This is a non-lethal system normally used in the areas in and around the Gulf of Aden.
8) Razor Wire Canister or Anti-boarding Device
Razor wire canister or an antibonding device is another anti-piracy system. It prevents pirates from boarding the vessel with the help of canisters with sharp razor wires. This is currently the most commonly used anti-piracy deterrent. Razor wire is installed around the perimeter of a ship. This wire acts as a wall or a barrier between the ship and those wanting to trespass.
This restricts the movement of pirates on to the ship considerably. However, this method is somewhat disadvantageous as there is always a fear of a crew member getting injured or infected by handling the razor wires.
Photo courtesy: http://vpsystems.co.za
9) Compressed Air – Ship Borne Shore Launcher
A product of a UK based company, a Ship Borne Shore Launcher is an anti-piracy system consisting of a cannon shaped device. This device uses compressed air in order to fire a variety of projectiles. It is generally a non-lethal system. However, it can be very powerful or even lethal depending upon the distance in which it is operating. It normally has a range of more than 400 m. This system is accepted as an important safety and survival system. Much like any other anti-piracy system this system is also used extensively in and around the Gulf of Aden.
10) P-Trap Anti-Piracy System
P-Trap Anti-Piracy System is a simple and yet effective measure against piracy. It is non-lethal. It consists of floating lines creating a safety zone around the vessel. This floating line can trap propellers of pirate vessels. These lines are so small that are almost invisible and our thrown directly under the surface of the ocean.
Once installed this system can be used without monitoring at any time of the day. This is considered as one of the best anti-piracy systems as it provides additional security to the crew members, can be used in all kinds of weather conditions and is very simple to install and apply in vessels without the involvement of crew.
11) Anti-Piracy Curtain
An anti-piracy curtain is a system which consists of a series of hoses being dangled out from the sides of a vessel. They are weighed to keep themselves close to the surface of the water. When water is pumped through the hoses, they fling around violently, making it difficult for possible trespassers to board the ship. The force is nearly 0.2 megapascal. This method is often employed in commercial ships and vessels as they are not allowed to carry arms in international waters. Hence, it is a non-lethal anti-piracy system that can be used by all without any difficulty.
12) Maritime Early Detection System
A Maritime Early Detection System is not exactly a weapon, but it can be equipped to provide active deterrence. It is a system consisting of a sensor network with infrared tracking vision cameras working day and night in addition to the onboard radar equipment. The system can be used to detect the presence of any other shape or vessels nearby and take action against it if it turns out to be a threat.
Superfly is an unmanned non-lethal air vehicle. It is an extra watch stander which keeps a vigilant eye on the horizon which is beyond the limits of the human eyesight. It is small and easily portable device and is cost-effective at the same time. It is very effective in looking for other vessels nearby and then takes the necessary precautions or actions if required.
14) Rubber Ball Grenade
Rubber ball grenades are a very effective measure against piracy. They are non-lethal weapons which spray rubber bullets on detonation. they are also capable of producing lights and sounds in order to deter the pirates from approaching the ship or vessel. They are also called sting ball grenades. These grenades can cause serious injuries. They are normally used in defense and military matters.
15) Active Denial System – Pain Ray (Electromagnetic wave)
An Active Denial System i.e. an ADS or a pain ray is a weapon used against piracy. It sends a small narrow beam of electromagnetic energy to heat the skin. It is non-lethal and does not cause any permanent damage. The electromagnetic wave can penetrate beneath the skin and cause an unbearable burning sensation making the trespassers or pirates jump overboard. It was developed by the US military and is also known as the heat ray. The working of this device is quite similar to that of a microwave oven. It has a system consisting of a gyrotron which emits the waves at a certain frequency with the help of a reflector.
16) Molotov Cocktail
A Molotov cocktail is a general term used to refer to any bottle-based improvised incendiary weapon. They are also called as gas bombs, bottle bombs or firebombs. Many a time, they are used by the crew of the merchant vessels which are not provided with anti-piracy weapons or security guards. A Molotov cocktail is simply thrown into an approaching pirate boat to disturb their maneuverability by setting it ablaze.
17) Taser – Electric Shock
A taser is a non-lethal weapon which can be used by the crew of a ship in case any pirates manage to get on board. Taser stands for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle. It is a kind of a gun which can be used to give an electric shock to the victim and temporarily cause him or her to lose neuromuscular control.
18) Anti-Piracy Fire Hoses
Anti-piracy fire hoses are extremely powerful hoses which are effective in fighting against pirates. They shoot out streams of water with high pressures. Some anti-piracy fire hoses may also come with remote control systems. They are non-lethal and do not cause serious injuries. These fire hoses are capable of driving away the pirates by getting in their eyes and at the same time flooding and attacking their boats at a good rate.
19) Stun Grenade
A stun grenade is an anti-piracy device which can produce a loud noise and a blinding flash of light. The flash of light has a magnitude of around 7 million candela and the sound is louder than 170 decibels. It is also known as a flash grenade. It is a non-lethal weapon. They do not cause any major injuries and merely aim at disorienting the senses of the trespassers temporarily. The flash of light is as mentioned before capable of blinding the victim for a few seconds and also temporarily deafens him or her causing a loss of balance.
20) Dazzle Gun
Dazzle gun is another non-lethal weapon similar to a stun grenade. It uses intense directed radiation to disable its target temporarily with flash blindness. These targets can be humans as well as sensors. It emits infrared lights and does not cause any long-term damage to the eye. It has found good use in the marine world, as an anti-piracy measure. Here, these guns are used to dazzle the pirates.