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The Military Technology

Mariners Develop High Tech Pirate Repellents 830

Hugh Pickens writes "NPR reports that owners of ships that ply the dangerous waters near Somalia are looking at options to repel pirates including slippery foam, lasers, electric fences, water cannons and high-intensity sound — almost anything except guns. One defense is the Force 80 squirt gun with a 3-inch nozzle that can send 1,400 gallons a minute 100 yards in any direction. 'It is a tremendous force of water that will knock over anything in its path and will also flood a pirate's ship very quickly,' says Roger Barrett James of the the Swedish company Unifire. Next is the Mobility Denial System, a slippery nontoxic foam that can be sprayed on just about any surface making it impossible to walk or climb even with the aid of a harness. The idea would be to spray the pirate's vessel as it approached, or to coat ropes, ladders, steps and the hull of the ship that's under attack. The Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, a high-powered directional loudspeaker allows a ship to hail an approaching vessel more than a mile away. 'Knowing that they've lost the element of surprise is half the battle,' says Robert Putnam of American Technology Corp. The LRAD has another feature — a piercing "deterrent tone" that sounds a bit like a smoke detector alarm with enough intensity to cause extreme pain and even permanent hearing loss for anyone directly in the beam that comes from the device. But Capt. John Konrad, who blogs for the Web site, says no anti-pirate device is perfect. 'The best case scenario is that you find these vessels early enough that you can get a Navy ship detached to your location and let them handle the situation.'"
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Mariners Develop High Tech Pirate Repellents

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  • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:05PM (#27689853)

    An M-16 with a full clip.


    • by wjh31 ( 1372867 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:10PM (#27689937) Homepage
      but how long before a scared poorly trained sailor has emptied that clip? whereas a watercannon and LRAD wont run out of ammunition, and are probably a bit easier to aim
      • by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:15PM (#27690051)

        "pirate repellents"

        WTF are we talking about... TICKS???

        "We're getting boarded... must not have sprayed the pirate repellent last night..."

        The best pirate repellent is two squads of armed marines. Just have the ships pick them up in the port before the gulf of Aden... and drop them off in the port after, where they can board the ship going the other way.

        Much cheaper than flooding the area with warships... and more effective to boot.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cayenne8 ( 626475 )
          I'm thinking along the same lines...

          Why bother with all the new 'tech' that is probably expensive, etc. And just use something known to work....a simple fucking gun?!?!?

          Geez, if this were my ship, I know I'd be packing some serious heat. A boat starts coming towards me....>bang I do that for my home if an intruder comes in, why not on the high seas where you KNOW a threat like this is not un-common??

          • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:41PM (#27690591) Homepage
            This really has to be the cheapest, most effective method - so there must be some, likely political, reason that it's not being used. Much of the issue with arming crew members seems to revolve around 1) training and 2) what to do with the weapons in whatever random port the ship ends up at where weapons aren't welcome.

            Picking up then dropping off paid mercs or active duty soldiers would go around that problem. But it seems like paying ransom is the current preferred action.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by geekoid ( 135745 )

              There is a lot of issues.
              Some political some practical. non military vessel is not allowed to be armed, for one.

              Second is people without training will be trying to shot someone . Trained personal under fire have a very low rate of hits. This would be worse.

              Then there is the very real matter that if you just start killing them you will get escalation.

              Sure, it would be great to drop a seal team onto every boat, but that's not really practical.

            • Re:pirate repellents (Score:5, Informative)

              by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:46PM (#27691977)

              This really has to be the cheapest, most effective method - so there must be some, likely political, reason that it's not being used. Much of the issue with arming crew members seems to revolve around 1) training and 2) what to do with the weapons in whatever random port the ship ends up at where weapons aren't welcome.

              International Maritime treaties forbid merchant ships from army themselves during peacetime.


              If ships armed themselves, then they waive the "right of innocent passage" and when they are out of international waters, then they might run into problem with the local authorities.

              • Re:pirate repellents (Score:5, Informative)

                by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @03:28PM (#27692697)
                If ships armed themselves, then they waive the "right of innocent passage" and when they are out of international waters, then they might run into problem with the local authorities.

                They only waive this right if they act in ways that are "prejudicial to the peace, good order or the security" of the country in whose territorial waters they are sailing. One specific example from one of the articles you linked to is "weapons practice", but not "weapons possession". Even submarines, which are well armed, don't need to give up their weapons in territorial waters, they only need to sail on the surface under colors.

                Yes, if a merchant vessel came into US waters with guns blazing, I think there would be concern. If, however, they entered with "guns stowed and locked", there is no danger to the security of the US. In Somali waters, there would be no danger to Somali 'good order', unless Somalia decided that successful piracy was part of their 'good order', and then they'd run afoul of international law. It is a reasonable expectation that merchant vessels should receive protection from piracy while they are in territorial waters from the owner of those waters.

                Even so, the pirates operate in international waters, IIRC.

                How many people read the headline and wondered why a Seattle baseball team was trying to create something to keep Pittsburgh players away?

            • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:52PM (#27692099)



              Meaning of innocent passage

              1. Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of international law.

              2. Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:

              (a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

              (b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;

              (c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;

              (d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State;

              (e) the launching, landing or taking on board of any aircraft;

              (f) the launching, landing or taking on board of any military device;

              (g) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;

              (h) any act of wilful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention;

              (i) any fishing activities;

              (j) the carrying out of research or survey activities;

              (k) any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;

              (l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.

              You may wonder how armed Naval ships can have and use weapons, but that is because they are not merchant ships and are ruled by other naval treaties in respect to international law.

              If this law was changed, you have to keep in mind that would allow Chinese and Russian merchant vessels to be armed while in US ports so it is a very sticky situation.

              • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @03:07PM (#27692331) Journal

                The passage you quoted does not prevent seaman from having weapons, merely from doing anything with them within territorial waters. So just keep them locked up when in territorial waters. Once you're outside territorial waters (or in the territorial waters of a state which doesn't respect innocent passage anyway), break 'em out.

                There's probably other treaties getting in the way, but that isn't one of them.

              • by nasor ( 690345 )
                Although I certainly do not claim to be an expert in maritime law, commercial ships have helicopters take off from and land on them all the time, which would seem to violate those statutes just as blatantly as adding a few .50 machineguns would.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GMFTatsujin ( 239569 )

          Lever back on the testosterone, pal. If the movie Aliens taught us anything, it's that sheer rough-n-ready manpower is not always the answer.

          Marines cost to feed and shelter. They take up space that could otherwise be used for crew and cargo. They cost to train. They want to be paid all the time they're on guard. They're not easily replicated or rapidly distributed for a high-demand world. And they're still fragile meatsacks, whatever their will to fight might be.

          It makes sense to layer technological

          • by JudgeFurious ( 455868 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:45PM (#27690677)
            Does not make sense. Pirates aren't movie aliens and Marines(TM) are known to work quite effectively against them. Marines cost to feed and shelter anywhere you put them so you might as well assign them to ships that are likely to be boarded and let them get some work in. Two squads of Marines do not take up very much space at all (particularly in respect to the capacity of these cargo ships). Their presence would have a negligible effect on crew and cargo. They do cost to train but that money is again going to be spent anyway no matter where they are stationed. They don't get paid all the time that they are on guard (assuming we are talking about United States Marines). They draw a monthly paycheck whether they are on guard duty off the coast of Somalia or stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else. We have plenty of them, they are easily replicated to a point, and can be rapidly sent wherever they're needed. Slippery foam covered pirates wash off and come back to try again. Dead floating in the water until the sharks get there pirates are no longer a threat.
            • Re:pirate repellents (Score:5, Interesting)

              by sgtrock ( 191182 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @03:30PM (#27692747)

              Two?!? One squad of US Marines is a heavily armed element; 8 or 9 M16s or M4s, a couple of grenade launchers, an M240 or M249 MG, and a bunch of AT4s (replacements for the old LAW rocket). More than enough to deal with the level of threat we're seeing in Somali waters. If the pirates want to rachet up, at least you'd have a force in place to delay them long enough to bring up the Navy.

          • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:39PM (#27691833) Journal
            If the movie Aliens taught us anything, it's that sheer rough-n-ready manpower is not always the answer.

            Remind us of the lessons from a work of FICTION next time you get taken hostage and half your traveling companions (including friends and possibly family) get killed.

            Lever back on the testosterone, pal.

            You carry a squirt gun, I'll take a fully-armed crew carrying M-16s.

            I have to second the GP, I really can't believe anyone even wants to consider non-lethal means ("Anything but guns?" What sort of bleeding heart came up with that line of feelgood BS?) to deal with armed killers on the high seas. These people board mostly-defenseless ships and kill people, loot the cargo, and take the "important" people for ransom. Just fucking kill them. No "alternatives" necessary.

            When container barges start carrying half a dozen 150mm guns, you'll watch this crap vanish overnight. Somehow I don't think various Three-Stooges-esque slapstick "solutions" will accomplish more than pissing the pirates off.

            As an aside, these clowns only get away with this because they attack highly-multinational ships, crews, and cargos, so no particular country feels a need to respond. When they do go after, say, a mostly-American (or even mostly-French, recently) ship, we end up with living crew and a few less pirates. Good riddance.
        • by mdarksbane ( 587589 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:46PM (#27690697)

          I am sort of curious why this sort of a solution is not often suggested.

          It has been said that the reason crewmen are not armed is that they are not trained, and that it is illegal to have armed crewmen at many major port cities where these ships are headed.

          It has also been said that stationing mercenaries or marines on board all ships all the time is prohibitively expensive, and possibly has the same legal problems.

          But the area in which these problems are occurring seems to be relatively small, compared to the entire trip these ships are taking. Why wouldn't it be reasonable to drop off 10-15 marines/mercenaries at a point before they get close enough for pirates to be a threat, and pick them up on the other side. You'd think that it would be getting cheaper than just buying insurance on the cargo pretty soon.

          Or, for as bad as the news makes it seem, go back to the old World War II convoy system. If the gulf is too big to have warships patrolling the entire thing, have a convoy leaving twice a day with a bunch of tankers and 1-2 warships covering it.

          The fact that these steps have not been taken must mean that the chances of any one ship being taken are still small enough that most companies can afford to take the risk.

        • by Tetsujin ( 103070 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:49PM (#27690749) Homepage Journal

          "pirate repellents"

          WTF are we talking about... TICKS???

          "We're getting boarded... must not have sprayed the pirate repellent last night..."

          Well, see, as you're sailing around there's always a probability that you'll have a random encounter. At low levels the pirate encounters can be a good way to gain experience points and loot - but at higher levels they're not worth the hassle, so you'll usually want to just avoid 'em. That's where pirate repellent comes in.

          I hear it's made from ninja urine.

      • I would think that if the Royal Navy was abolish piracy 200 years ago with a mixture of cannon balls, musket fire, and a hangman's noose, then, the M-16 would work pretty well.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I think the poster's point was that the sailors using the weapons weren't actually trained military folk, but your basic sailors on merchant and shipping vessels.

      • by kwiqsilver ( 585008 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:41PM (#27691879)

        Why would you give a poorly trained sailor a gun, when it takes a few hours to train him to use it? I have fired less than 200 rounds from my AR-15 (the semi-auto version of the M-16) and I can make a head shot at 300 yards under stress (with optics), or a torso shot at 100 yards under stress (with iron sights).

        A one or two week training course in weapon skills and combat tactics (which are at least as important as the weapon skills), would give the sailors a huge advantage over the untrained pirates.

        Typical M-16 magazines hold 30 rounds. A trained user should be able to get at least five kills from that magazine, and reloading takes only a few seconds. After the first or second death, the pirates would probably flee.

        Small arms are far more effective than the mad-scientist weapons mentioned, because they are much cheaper, far more reliable, easier to use, and have a deterrence factor: pirates will avoid ships they think involve a high risk of death, and dead (or wounded and captured) pirates don't get to raid again. Also, unlike the fixed position water cannons and sound cannons, small arms can be used more easily once the pirates have boarded. If the water cannon was a better weapon than a rifle, then military ships and land units (which, unlike commercial ships, do not have legal restrictions on what weapons they employ) would use them instead of rifles.

        My suggestion would be having a few designated marksmen (the best shooters on the ship) with a semi-auto .308 with a good scope for long range engagements. If they can hit one or two pirates before they board, the pirates will probably turn around. The rest of the firearms-trained crew should have something like UMP-45 submachine guns, which are a much better choice in close quarters. Of course all of these weapons should be locked up (unless they have an armed patrol), until a threat is discovered. With modern detection equipment, they should have plenty of time to muster and equip themselves.

        Note: M-16s, like most modern firearms, use magazines not clips. A clip is a device that grips the back of the rounds and leaves most of the round exposed. A magazine is an enclosed box with a spring at the bottom for self feeding.

    • I'm not going out there to the Gulf of Aden unless I got one of these [] at a minimum, preferably something more long the lines of this []. An M16 isn't bad though but I might need more oomph....
    • by Kratisto ( 1080113 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:11PM (#27689965)

      I believe you mean a magazine. A clip is a device used to hold the cartridges in place to make them easier to load into the magazine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rah1420 ( 234198 )

      The op-ed page of the local fishwrap had another suggestion; Every US-flagged merchant ship should have a Phalanx gun [] with a Navy operator. When the pirate ship approaches, the navy man turns it into wood chips and fish chum in a few seconds. Bingo, no more pirate problem.

    • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:30PM (#27691619) Homepage Journal

      The M-16 is a great idea. Deadly force met with deadly force is the only answer that is likely to work.

      But, I have to say that I am constantly amazed at the presumption of those who ban deadly force. Sheltered pussies sitting in a sheltered land, defended by armed men thousands of miles away, have the gall to prohibit weapons for the men who actually go into harms way.

      People, these are armed robbers we are talking about. For whatever reason, they have decided to TAKE valuable items from innocent men who are only trying to make a living. Merchant mariners put their lives at risk to deliver the goods, only to have armed robbers come aboard, shove weapons in their faces, and demand their livelihoods from them.

      Philosophers have the luxury of sitting at thier computers, justifying the pirates conduct, and insisting that the pirate's rights be upheld.

      Sailors whose lives are at risk don't have that luxury.

      Deadly force, however applied, must be used. There are multiple choices, after all.

      Arm the merchant mariners. If ports don't want armed mariners, either avoid those ports, or have the weapons locked up while in port. No big deal.

      Take on a squad or two of mercenaries. Trained killers, determined to protect the ship. Here we have no problems with poorly trained men whose marksmanship sucks.

      Convoys. No ship transits the Gulf Monday thru Thursday. On Friday, one full fledged convoy transits southbound, and another transits northbound. The rest of the week, the Naval pirate killers patrol far and wide, searching for pirates to kill.

      I repeat - I am simply amazed that so many people, around the world, can sit on their asses and pretend to know what life at sea is like, pretend to know how to deal with pirates, and they've never walked aboard a fucking SHIP!!

      Morons. These are the same people who whine and cry because there are never enough cops to protect them, so when a bad guy comes along, they just curl up and die for the nice bad man.

      I wouldn't sail anywhere without a weapon. I wouldn't even sail up the Mississippi river, let alone the Gulf of Aden without a weapon.

      Let's get over this abhorrence we have for deadly force. If someone is trying to rob, rape, or kill you, the scum needs to be put down.

      Or, you can kneel down to him, and make him your king.

  • by indy_Muad'Dib ( 869913 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:05PM (#27689863) Homepage
    a firearm, worked as a defense against boarding parties hundreds of years ago, it will work just as well now.
  • A better plan? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arizwebfoot ( 1228544 ) * on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:06PM (#27689871)
    Is it more humane to flood those little pirate boats and let the pirates drown then just shooting them in the head?

    Bettery yet, why not take x number of ships, create a convoy that is protected by x number of war ships from different nations and run them through? Each nation gets it's chance to be the flag ship so that eveyone gets the credit. .

    It worked good enough in WWII and would work now, unless the pirates get smart and buy a bunch of used U-Boats. But then sinking their loot would kind of defeat the purpose wouldn't it?

    You start killing pirates and making it really risky to be a pirate and there won't be any more pirates willing to take the risk. Kinda like the old saying, "There are old pirates and there are bold pirates, but there are no old bold pirates".
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      Is it more humane to flood those little pirate boats and let the pirates drown then just shooting them in the head?

      Pirates have access to the same life preserver technology the rest of us do — better than most, because they can keep the best of what they have stolen. Ditto for life rafts.

      Personally, I could give one tenth of one shit what happens to any pirate, but it would probably be too much effort. If I'm on the ocean and you announce (or display) intent to board my ship by force, and I have a 20mm cannon, I'm going to fucking open up and turn your shit into sawdust.

      If you can afford a boat worth taking by for

    • Why no guns (Score:5, Informative)

      by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:38PM (#27690533) Journal
      The ships do not want to carry fire arms not because they don't want to kill the pirates. Carrying fire arms is a safety issue and a legal issue. Some countries would not let a ship armed with machines into their ports. Guns and ammo are dangerous in a fire. And they would attract vandals and thieves who want to steal the guns and ammo. So it is to protect the ship and its crew, they don't want to carry a gun. If they can kill the pirates without guns, they would do so. It is not a question of trying to be humane to the pirates, just sensible precautions to protect the crew.
  • by BlackCobra43 ( 596714 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:07PM (#27689885)
    Now hold on just a minute, I thought the best pirate repellant was a good, old-fashioned lawsuit. Are you telling me the RIAA LIED to me? I am shocked, SHOCKED I say.
  • Sounds like a perfect application. No one is really concerned about the comfort of pirates.
    • Given that said gun is designed for extremely low penetration(skin surface only) and microwaves tend to interact with water, I'd be less than wholly surprised if taking a quick seawater dip, and wearing long sleeves, would be enough to allow you to approach and fire on the emitter.

      I could certainly be wrong(and I'd hope, though not necessarily expect, that Raytheon would test something like that before the started trying to sell them); but the world is full of high-tech wizbangs that can be defeated by t
  • by mc1138 ( 718275 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:10PM (#27689939) Homepage
    Does these guys not accept a parley?!
  • A well trained and silent ninja.
    • by FSWKU ( 551325 )
      Ninjas who also come disguised as Navy SEAL's with sniper rifles.
      • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:30PM (#27690361) Homepage

        To be fair, ninjas and special operations/forces are pretty much the same thing. Ninjas were pretty much feudal Japan's special forces. Their legendary superhuman abilities and magical powers are merely the results of their skill and efficiency. The incredible feats performed by the Navy SEALs and other special forces, while not as easily attributed to magical powers, their feats are often considered superhuman in that the average person could never perform the kinds of things SEALs can.

        In short: NavySEALs == Ninjas

    • by Pitr ( 33016 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:22PM (#27690203)

      A well trained and silent ninja.

      I submit to you that stating "well trained and silent" before "ninja" is redundant. If one is lacking in either training or the ability to be silent, it precludes one's propensity for ninja-ness.

  • Q-boats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:11PM (#27689969)

    Piracy is a crime and should be treated as such. If there's a rash of break-ins in your hometown you don't recommend that every home owner goes out and buys a gun, you track down the criminals responsible and put them to justice.

    It's well known that the pirates are getting inside information on ship locations and cargoes from associates in Europe. Feed a false tip into the system and arrest the pirates that come calling. Don't try to arm civilians to fight off what could be a relatively well trained and well armed fighting force, you'll just piss of the criminals and they'll be that much more likely to start killing people.

    • Re:Q-boats (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd DOT bandrowsky AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:18PM (#27690129) Homepage Journal

      Piracy is a crime and should be treated as such. If there's a rash of break-ins in your hometown you don't recommend that every home owner goes out and buys a gun, you track down the criminals responsible and put them to justice

      Actually, I would recommend that every home owner buy a gun. If you shoot the guys breaking in, they won't do it again.

      The fact of the matter is, pirates are NOT criminals. They are pirates. They are completely outside the law and anyone has a right to kill a pirate on the high seas. That was what worked 200 years ago, and its only because the surrenderists are in charge that piracy and lawlessness have made a comeback.

      I'm sick of hearing about how people should trust their government for safety, when it won't do anything to guarantee it.

    • Re:Q-boats (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:32PM (#27690397)

      Piracy is a crime and should be treated as such. If there's a rash of break-ins in your hometown you don't recommend that every home owner goes out and buys a gun,

      You may not, but I would. Especially if I had reason to believe that the local police were getting a kickback from those breaking in. In this case we have reason to believe that what passes for a government in Somalia is getting at least a kickback (if not sponsoring) the pirates.

  • These guys didn't watch Mythbusters [] last night, did they?
  • Privateers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ring-eldest ( 866342 ) <> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:13PM (#27689997)

    How about we reinstate the time honored tradition of privateering? Every privateer gets a representative from a multi-national body of privateer regulators. Kill pirates, take their shit, take their ships. No more pirates.

    • Re:Privateers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:37PM (#27690509) Journal
      Do you think the pirates doing the pirating have anything worth taking?

      There is real money involved, and tracing it might well end up leading to some interesting places; but they are all on shore(as with anything else, management is the place to be when it comes to crime). The seaborne component is a bunch of scrawny kids, with cheap eastern block crap and outboard motors. I'd be shocked if you could cover the gas money, much less merc wages, off the proceeds of a pirate hunt.
  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:14PM (#27690031) Journal

    I thought the whole idea of not arming crews was to prevent possible death to the crews. Do these people think that only applies to GUNS, and not other forms of arms? The pirates are armed with guns, RPGs and the like, not fucking water pistols. They do not have a "stun" setting. Does anyone in their right mind think the pirates, after getting a ship flooded or tasered aren't going to actually use the weapons THEY have? Do they expect the pirates to say "Gosh, you fought fair and humanely. We'll just ignore all that extra effort, pain and discomfort."


    How about just adding armed and trained guards to the ships? Maybe armed and trained escort ships? Q-boats? A Naval destroyer sitting in the main bay, shelling their HQ?

    Or is this just the kinder, gentler pirates of the 21st century?

    • by SoupGuru ( 723634 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:37PM (#27690499)

      Newsweek just had an article on why killing pirates might be a bad idea. Basically, the pirates have a "code" that they live by which includes treating their hostages well. Their piracy is pretty much an economic transaction. Starting to shoot pirates might make them rethink how they treat their hostages.

      Not that I agree with their assessment, but it's an interesting idea that escalating an economic situation to one of life or death might have adverse effects on the innocents involved.

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:59PM (#27690991) Homepage

        I dunno - I think you need to look at the incentives involved. These pirates are businessmen - not crusaders. They do it to make money. If they know they aren't going to make money they'll stop doing it.

        I once heard somebody argue that when a plane is hijacked that the military should just shoot it down with hostages and terrorists alike perishing. Of course that sounds dumb, until you realize that you've eliminated any negotiating power the terrorists might obtain from holding hostages. A saner approach would be to simply not sincerely negotiate at all and always mount military responses if the terrorists don't surrender after a reasonable period of time.

        • by ivothamdrup ( 991171 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @04:29PM (#27693647)
          Remember, terrorism isn't about money, it's about instilling fear in people, i.e. terrorizing. So if you start shooting down every hijacked plane, what actually happens, is that the terrorists will use their readily available supply of martyrs to continuously hijack airplanes with no other intent than getting shot down. Then you either keep your word, shoot the planes and the people within, and soon nobody in their right mind will ever board a plane again (public uproar notwithstanding), or you don't shoot the planes and start negotiating with the terrorists.
  • by Reality Master 201 ( 578873 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:16PM (#27690085) Journal

    The pirate repellent foam is lube. They're going to spray attacking pirates with lube.

  • by dracphelan ( 916527 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:42PM (#27690599)

    Due to activities of privateers and pirates in the past, many nations have laws against armed merchant vessels being allowed in their harbors and/or waters. This is the reason the companies want devices that won't be considered weapons by these countries, Afterall, what good does it do to arm the vessel if it can't dock anywhere.

  • by skulgnome ( 1114401 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:47PM (#27690719)

    After you've caused some of the pirates to break their arms and legs on a newly frictionless surface, and made yet more of them bleed from the ears, perhaps deaf for life, they finally manage to board you.

    For how long do you expect to survive?

    Seriously, I'd cut our your eyes and lop off your ears out of spite at that point. And I'm not even a seafaring pirate.

    Reminds me of the anti-rape condom that causes the would-be rapist immense pain. Good job, now he'll definitely kill you.

  • by bugs2squash ( 1132591 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:55PM (#27692123)
    should be issued to each crew by the British. That way they will cease to be Pirates and become far more respectable privateers and will only attack French or Spanish boats.
  • a lot of the commentary here has to do with the idea the crews should be armed

    the rationale being that this is the best policy in civic life as well

    well, crews are not armed, because when you give arms to a handful of guys in the middle of the ocean, interesting scenarios develop involving needless death. not even the majority of such scenarios having anything to do with pirates. hey, don't argue with me. this is official policy on the high seas for a reason

    which is exactly why no one should have guns in civic life as well: why multiply the number of scenarios in which the outcome is death for the victims, nevermind the perpetrators

    i'd actually like to see the common sense we have on the high seas apply to common sense in civic life: stop the proliferation of guns in civic life, which only results in thousands of needless deaths due top pointless escalation from random domestic situations, posturing teenagers, curious children, miscommunications, accidents, etc.

    not that you will see gun proponents ever admit this. in their eyes, a gun is always and forever more used only according to the most virtuous of reasons, and the outcome is always good. even though reality and history and statistical fact proves otherwise, by orders of magnitude

    but don't argue with me. argue with the wisdom of those who maintain ships on the high seas

    as for what to do about the new pirate situation off of somalia that seems to challenge this wisdom: ships in convoys, chaperoned by warships, just world war i&ii in the north atlantic when german uboats were on the prowl. just like we deal with crime on land: with police, not with the arming of random yahoos on the street with dirty harry complexes

  • wowzers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by e-scetic ( 1003976 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @05:02PM (#27694169)

    This thread seems to have stirred up a lot of buzz.

    People who have no stake whatsoever, or who are impacted only in a very negligible way by this piracy, probably a mere two cents out of their big fat wallets, seem spoiling for a fight. Lots of cowboy swagger here...

    Some things I'm wondering...

    • 1. Is it the colour of their skin? Black versus white? Can't let the coloureds/ragheads/ win or get too uppity...?
    • 2. Is it that the Somalis whupped their asses in Blackhawk Down and they're sore losers or holding a grudge?
    • 3. Is it just the principle of the thing, law and order at all cost?
    • 4. General ignorance and stupidity about the ways of the world, other countries and cultures, global situations, etc.
    • 5. They didn't like Captain Jack in Pirates of the Carribean?
    • 6. This is the new spectator sport, lots of opportunity for blood and gore to be had here, especially for a populace weaned on lifelong "us versus them" warfare on their televisions and wanting more (Iraq got old).

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.