The impact of Piracy on the international community is difficult to ascertain, yet the monetary and human cost is certainly far too high. Piracy sadly continues to thrive, and there has been a marked rise in attacks and kidnappings over the last decade. This is why vessels and crews continue to invest heavily in anti-Piracy measures. There are many options available that range from the cheap to the expensive, and all will have varying degrees of success depending on the situation. Below are some examples of anti-Piracy methods available.
While often seen as the least effective method of countering Piracy, simply avoiding the areas with the highest incidents of Piracy is an option available to ships. However, it does have significant advantages- for one, the added cost in time and fuel can make it counter-productive for many, and simply not a viable solution. More importantly however, studies have shown that Piracy increases in areas with the most shipping. Evasion en masse therefore may only delay Piracy and cause it to shift to other areas. However, for some ships perhaps making one-off journeys, it is an option.
This is one of the simplest tools available for vessels, and is often seen as being less effective than other methods. However, by targeting attackers with water hoses crews can make boarding impossible by creating slippery surfaces or literally pushing Pirates from their boats.
Foam is very similar to water hoses in its aim. By coating the surface of a ship in slippery foam, there is no way for Pirates to gain purchase and board. However, there are some concerns over the environmental impact of using foam.
Barbed wire is seen as a particularly aggressive solution, despite being a ‘passive’ option. The image of ships covered in barbed wire is undesirable for some, particularly smaller ships, but is undeniably effective in preventing Pirates from boarding. Barbed wire may also be intimidating to Pirates, as it displays a readiness to attackers that may deter them.
Displaying to Pirates a readiness for attack is one of the key considerations in hiring Private Security to protect ships. After all, there is little that signals a preparedness for attack than the presence of Maritime Security Operatives. Indeed, statistics have shown that vessels employing private protection have a far lower rate of boarding than other ships. However, Maritime Security can be costly, particularly when considering the equipment they need, which stretches from weapons to bullet proof vests. Similarly, they may be an unwelcome sight on civilian crafts.
Finally, there are the seemingly fantastical weapons that have nonetheless proven to be very useful in Maritime environments. By harnessing sounds far above the human threshold these ‘Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD)’ can incapacitate attackers with focused sounds. These weapons are remarkably accessible and have proven effective in stopping Pirates. Other more common methods include rubber bullets and even non-lethal explosives.
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