Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

A bit of pirate-proofing

Posted on | May 8, 2012 | 1 Comment

The newsletter of the Confederation of European Shipmasters’ Association has, over the past few years, been a useful indicator of what senior officers actually think about such matters as criminalisation and piracy. Sometimes it contains some gems such as an account, in a recent issue, of a “pirate-proof” ship being developed by the French Government. The test vessel, a former navy training ship, is being equipped with a non-lethal security system with a radar and infra-red camera system, which alerts the crew, who on the approach of the attackers, can activate a sound and light system, along with water cannon, before retreating into their citadel.

From there, the crew is able to observe the pirates using remote cameras, welcoming the attackers with tear gas, darkening all the spaces which are then filled with smoke. There was, it is reported, that there was some scepticism about the proposals among those viewing the presentation, with doubts about whether these passive measures would be sufficient to deter the tough Somali pirates.

Meanwhile there seems to have been an extraordinary amount of wailing from the usual suspects at the robust defence mounted by armed guards on a ship actually being attacked, where the guards were filmed – shock-horror – firing back at the miscreants and driving them off.  There have even been demands for an inquiry at the iniquity of this tough defence, although it is good to see that this has been resoundingly dismissed by the flag state. One also has to wonder at the wisdom of the media identifying both the operators of the ship and the providers of the armed protection.  Nobody seems to have thought about asking the crew whether they thought that the efforts of their armed guards to protect them had been disproportionate. But then, nobody ever asks the crew anything.

It would be interesting to ask them whether they would rather be protected by a team with high velocity rifles and a willingness to occasionally fire them, or sit grimly in their citadel sniffing tear gas and smoke, as enraged pirates rampage around their ship, getting angrier and angrier. I expect they would tell you.


One Response to “A bit of pirate-proofing”

  1. Michael R.
    May 12th, 2012 @ 5:11 am

    “But then, nobody ever asks the crew anything.”

    –about as true as it gets.

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