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Air Cannon Ties Pirates In Knots

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the in-ur-seas-twistin-ur-propeller dept.

The Military 770

Hugh Pickens writes "Numerous high-tech devices have been proposed to help ships cope with piracy on the high seas. Now a company has developed a ship-borne launching device that fires a net or coiled rope into the path of pirate vessels using compressed air with a range of up to a range of 400m. The payload net or rope, which has a parachute attached to the end, will unravel and lay out across the surface of the water so that as the pirate boat travels through the water its propeller shaft will pick up the line and become entangled. 'With the trials and testing we've done, it has taken us some 45 minutes to cut and disentangle the line from the propeller itself,' says Jonathan Delf. 'Within that time of course, the target ship is on its way and hopefully help has arrived in the form of naval forces or helicopter support.' The system can be fired up to five times off just a cylinder of air like a simple scuba tank." The video mentions that the device can also fire a payload of golf balls. The systems have recently been sold to "several large shipping companies that travel near the oil-rich Nigerian Delta, which, like the Somalian coast, is rife with piracy."

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770 comments

And what happens.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266474)

when the pirates use this on ships themselves?

Re:And what happens.. (0)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266590)

What happens if they spot the line, hook it then pass it over their boat.

I hope the answer isn't "the next ship that comes that way will get a propeller full of rope".

This gadget seems full of fail to me.

Re:And what happens.. (2, Insightful)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266756)

Well, I haven't made my mind with regards to the efficiency of this tool yet but I wander what will be the effects of the left overs on sea wildlife.

Also, it seems all the pirates will have to do to avoid the line is use water jet propulsion boats, no external propeller on these boats. If it becomes widely used, pirates should upgrade rather quickly.

Re:And what happens.. (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266630)

Err, the massive propellers that most cargo ships use make trying to foul one useless? Unless that rope you're using is 20cm thick or better, good luck with fouling a prop whose average diameter would often dwarfs the pirate's boat entirely with room to spare. Hell, good luck fouling the prop by ramming your entire boat into it for that matter...

Maybe you meant the golf ball cannon option? Umm, okay - you only have to get the balls up 5-10 stories high, not counting superstructure, let alone the bridge. RPG's are probably more plentiful than golf balls in that part of the world, and tend to be a lot more portable, methinks.

Re:And what happens.. (3, Insightful)

justin12345 (846440) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266664)

I doubt they would bother. A few (or a few dozen) RPGs would be both cheaper and more effective.

I like the idea that the "good guys" can use expensive high tech to "stun" the bad guy's vessels, but if I were a captain of a ship being raided, I doubt I would prefer gumming up their motors to blowing them out of the water. Not only that but if you just mess with the pirates equipment they will just go on to do the same again later once they repair it. Sure the helicopter support might arrive in time and kill all the pirates, but at that point why not just kill the pirates from the boat int he first place?

It would seem like a limited lethal weapon system mounted on the transports would be the most efficient option.

Re:And what happens.. (0, Troll)

teh moges (875080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266726)

While at the same time ensuring that all on board the pirate ships are in fact pirates (no hostages, etc). Bad things happen when people become judge and jury themselves. Stun them, call the authorities and then stay out of it.

Re:And what happens.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266872)

What authorities? These are international waters. The closest thing to help one can have is the navy of the country you are flying your flag under. If a country captures pirates, they get prosecuted under that country's legal system.

Here is the problem ships face: Go armed and face BIG international fallout if someone a bit happy with a chaingun rips up a fishing boat with innocent people. (Not to mention that very few ports want to deal with armed ships. Heck, even an unarmed US Navy ship got driven away from a Chinese port city just because they were American), or go unarmed and have to hopefully drive pirates off, but still be able to dock somewhere to unload cargo and pay for the multi-million dollar ship.

Thus the advances in non lethal weaponry. LRAD for example. Its not just for driving off rock throwers and angry hippies when the WTO or the G20 have a meeting. Other advances not as mentioned are electric fences surrounding the ship, some which can be set to lethal voltage/current levels.

Finally, yes pirates are bad, but they are businessmen. They are not terrorists (yet). They want to seize a vessel, keep the crew (relatively) intact until they get their 7 digit package drop, then let the ship go and go on to newer things. The pirates know that if they did start committing true acts of terror, that countries who don't care about international PR would turn their enclaves in Somalia into unpassable, mined craters, or even radioactive rubble.

Re:And what happens.. (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266896)

this isn't a domestic dispute in your local burb. when your 200km off the somali coast, WHAT authorities are going to come to your aid? besides it's not like you wouldn't fire off a few warning shots first (after signalling them). frankly there's not much margin for error when a boat load of gun bearing somali pirates are headin your way.

Re:And what happens.. (1)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266770)

Sure the helicopter support might arrive in time and kill all the pirates, but at that point why not just kill the pirates from the boat int he first place?

This has been the key question all along, and unfortunately there's an answer to it. They won't arm the transports, or the crews of the transports, because they are more scared of what might happen if somebody gets mad, makes a mistake, or otherwise screws up, than they are of the pirates themselves. So the answer is, "Our insurance company won't let us do that..." Not a very satisfactory answer, but an answer nevertheless.

Re:And what happens.. (1)

bman08 (239376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266812)

Do you think any American port is going to welcome a fleet of armed foreign merchantmen? Unlikely. The same holds worldwide. These guys are in the commerce business and the hassle this plan would create is probably worth more than the occasional ransom.

Re:And what happens.. (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266934)

but if I were a captain of a ship being raided, I doubt I would prefer gumming up their motors to blowing them out of the water. Not only that but if you just mess with the pirates equipment they will just go on to do the same again later once they repair it.

Many countries in that region forbid ships that contain the necessary guns (to blow a vessel out of the water) from entering, and forbid ships whose crew are armed with personal guns from entering their waters, or their ports. Only pirates can carry deadly weapons (legally).

Also, Somalia, and several other countries in that region, have an international arms embargo in place. It's a violation of international law to bring weapons through there. Thus, only the criminals have guns.

Most ships don't want to even carry real guns, anyways, let alone armament capable of blowing other vessels out of the water. Gunpowder can accidentally be ignited: an accident on board could blow _themselves_ out of the water, let-alone the possibility of their own weapons being used to hijack the vessel.

If pirates board, they can takeover control of those weapons and use them to kill people. They also have more weapons and ammo which may otherwise be a little hard for pirates to get.

Having deadly weapons on-board poses risks.

So, these are just some reasons to prefer stun devices.

Also the obvious matter, that stunning still stops the pirates, maybe allows them to be arrested and dealt with by authorities, with minimal loss of life (including minimal damage / minimal loss of life to the possibly captured vessel and innocent bystanders the pirates were attempting to use to capture the bigger vessel).

Also of use against Japanese whaling ships? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266480)

No text.

What is to keep the pirates from using this? (1)

Impecca (929846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266488)

What is going to keep the pirates from using something like this to their advantage?

Re:What is to keep the pirates from using this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266496)

The almighty dollar. Which they do not have.

Re:What is to keep the pirates from using this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266524)

they will eventually capture a ship with the tecnollogy and find a countermeassure or learn how to do it themselves

Re:What is to keep the pirates from using this? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266514)

I'm not a boatologist but I would imagine that large cargo ships have significantly stronger propellers and engines than the small craft that pirates use. Their engines would probably shred anything the pirates could throw at them, much like in the Indiana Jones movie.

Re:What is to keep the pirates from using this? (1)

spyder-implee (864295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266708)

Yes exactly, they are designed to do just that.

Re:What is to keep the pirates from using this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266738)

I'm not a boatologist

That would be a mariner.

Re:What is to keep the pirates from using this? (2, Funny)

LeperPuppet (1591409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266796)

I'm not a boatologist but ...

Best. Disclaimer. Ever.

Re:What is to keep the pirates from using this? (5, Informative)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266842)

Queue the 1/2" kevlar rope! A quarter mile of the stuff ought to do the trick. The worst part about lines jamming the propeller is that the line gets coiled up in the space between where the propeller and the hull meet, and the motion causes the prop to pull the propshaft out of the boat (with the engine attached). This causes what's called a "through hull hole", aka an "oh shit!" circumstance, wherein the boat sinks as the engine room fills with water. The rope doesn't even have to be particularly strong to do this. This isn't as big of a problem for outboard motors (what the pirates use) but it does cause problems for them with fouled props, etc.

Re:What is to keep the pirates from using this? (5, Insightful)

cynic7702 (758772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266536)

What is going to keep the pirates from using something like this to their advantage?

The same thing that keeps car thieves from slashing the tires of cars they plan to steal.

Defective Solution in Search of a Problem (0, Offtopic)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266654)

If I commandeered a shipping vessel and if I had a choice between (1) some flying rope that can be shot out of an air cannon and (2) on-board artillery like a machine gun (or something that can blast a hole in an on-coming vessel), I would rather choose the artillery. The problem with this flying rope is that it might enrage the pirate, and he might aim his artillery at you and also signal for assistance. If his comrades arrive at the scene, then your flying rope will not stop the thugs from putting a bullet in your head.

Also, this flying rope reminds me of the spider wires that the air force dropped onto the electrical-power plants of Serbia during the NATO action against that country in 1999. The spider wires short-circuited the power plants and cut off power to the parts of the city for hours. The aim was to avoid hurting the civilians (because NATO wants their support) and, specifically, to avoid damaging the civilian infrastructure.

Sometimes, being nice works (e. g., in the case of the NATO action against Serbia), but sometimes being nice does not work. The pirates are not innocent civilians but are hardened criminals. Pirates should be killed , not protected from a military assault by the French Navy.

Not surprisingly, this flying rope appears to be the product of British engineering. The French military, under President Nicolas Sarkozy, is not likely to develop such a "nice", "let-us-be-friends" weapon: Sarkozy is the toughest, most pro-Western leader to appear in Old Europe in the last 50 years.

Re:Defective Solution in Search of a Problem (2, Funny)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266720)

This word "commandeered" ... I do not think it means what you think it means.

"To take arbitrarily or by force." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266826)

This word "commandeered" ... I do not think it means what you think it means.

you lose the internet.

Re:Defective Solution in Search of a Problem (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266832)

maybe he's a pirate, then it makes sense

Re:What is to keep the pirates from using this? (1)

buttersnout (832768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266716)

I think it's that if the target ship is running away and the pirate ship is behind it, it will be very hard to fire the net in front them but if a pirate ship is seen approaching, it will be easy to fire a net in front of them.

Mean and nasty! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266502)

Nice idea. I absolutely hate it when crap gets stuck in the prop. Not sure how fast these things could be reloaded though and it would be easy to spoof using a water pressure (jet) lower end, although I doubt your random Somali hijacker is going to have the cash to upgrade their motors.

I really like the golf balls though.... Totally mean spirited...

Re:Mean and nasty! (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266680)

I doubt your random Somali hijacker is going to have the cash to upgrade their motors.

These guys are in new(ish) boats with big engines, an arsenal of weapons and satellite phones. A successful hijacking is worth millions.

When approached by military boats they toss everything into the water and pretend to be fishing. They then return to shore and restock. If they can afford that, I'd hazard a guess that they can afford new engines if these nets become the biggest obstacle to a successful hijacking.

Re:Mean and nasty! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266764)

Really? The videos that I've seen have the hijackers running around in what appear to be old open wooden boats between 20 and 30 feet long. Yes, they're dropped off from mother ships that are basically repurposed fishing vessels, but the actual attack boats are pretty basic.

Maybe they could re engine them with jet props, but the golf balls would still be problematic. Of course, if they actually tried to run with 'real' military vessels neither approach would be very helpful. Then it's time for the harpoons.

Golf balls? Ropes? Parachutes?! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266506)

Just shoot the fuckers already. Pretty soon there won't be any more of them.

Re:Golf balls? Ropes? Parachutes?! (3, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266682)

Just shoot the fuckers already. Pretty soon there won't be any more of them.

If it's always clear weather, and daytime, and all the boats have transponders so that you never make errors in identifying which boats are pirate and which aren't, that might be reasonable.

If you are, say, reliable 99% of the time... and, say, one boat out of two hundred is a pirate-- you'll be shooting two innocent fishermen for every pirate.

And it's always harder to identify the bad guys in the real world than it is in the movies.

Re:Golf balls? Ropes? Parachutes?! (4, Interesting)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266706)

Yeeeeah. He was... fishing... at night, in stormy weather, a thousand miles off the coast of Somalia, but within 300 yards of the only merchant ship within 50 nautical miles.

That's the ticket.

Re:Golf balls? Ropes? Parachutes?! (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266810)

Don't confuse the issue with facts.

Re:Golf balls? Ropes? Parachutes?! (1)

G33kGuy (1152863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266788)

This is an excellent point, but in my opinion it doesn't go far enough. Most of these pirates are people under the age of 21, and most do it out of necessity. Bringing weapons into it would just turn a bad situation into a killing field.

Re:Golf balls? Ropes? Parachutes?! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266876)

You say that as though (a) the pirates didn't already bring weapons into it, and (b) there really are no other options for the pirates. (a) they have, and (b) I don't know the situation well enough to comment (and I doubt that you do, either). However, you also seem to skip something: if one enters priracy - the use of deadly force to steal stuff - one is explicitly accepting the risks that go along with it: death induced by those who fight back.

Re:Golf balls? Ropes? Parachutes?! (2, Interesting)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266740)

If I were a navy commander, instead of shooting the bastard pirates, I would rather prefer keeping them alive and using them. As long as the pirates are alive and well, they can be manipulated to disrupt an enemy states transportation of vital material, gather intelligence, wreck panic and fear in an enemy state's civilians/government, etc.

Who do you think are providing the coordinates of victim cargo ships to the poorly equipped pirates?

The whole "pirate fighting" thing is a scam. Or rather, a game played by major military forces in which the pirates are not the objective, but the material.

Do you really think the pirates are so tough an enemy for a superpower like the USA?

Why not real guns? (3, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266518)

I think the number of pirates would be reduced if the shipping vessels had small autocannons mounted on them. No jalopie fishing trawler can take a burst of 35mm AP shells for very long. Problem solved.

Re:Why not real guns? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266540)

I'm not well versed in the subject, but I believe it has something to do with their classification under maritime law. I don't think merchant vessels are allowed to carry weapons of any kind.

Re:Why not real guns? (5, Insightful)

Logic Worshipper (1518487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266548)

And if you shot fishermen or other innocent people by accident?

Re:Why not real guns? (1)

magnusrex1280 (1075361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266588)

Then at least he cut down on population.

Re:Why not real guns? (1)

Xaduurv (1685700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266900)

"Thin out their numbers, Ned!!!" "mmmmThin our their numbers...."

Re:Why not real guns? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266614)

If you're in a small single-engine craft, in waters off the coast of Somalia, and you continue to approach any large commercial vehicle despite repeated auditory warnings, you deserve to be obliterated.

Sometimes being the devil's advocate is quite a useless and stupid exercise.

Re:Why not real guns? (5, Insightful)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266778)

I'd say that if the people in a small boat are shooting Kalashnikovs at you, it would be safe to assume they are not innocent people.

Re:Why not real guns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266886)

They might be paranoid sailors who brought their guns along.

Re:Why not real guns? (1)

Logic Worshipper (1518487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266906)

Well, the problem with real guns is that you have to wait until they are shooting at you first. With the air cannon, that won't kill them, you can't shoot without being sure.

Re:Why not real guns? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266822)

They would probably die.

Re:Why not real guns? (2, Insightful)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266568)

And how many of your average merchant shipping crews actually have the know-how to effectively use such a weapon? I'm sure the pirates would capture a small supply in short order.

Re:Why not real guns? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266616)

I'm guessing it's about as many crews as would have the know-how to effectively use a fancy rope-launcher.

Re:Why not real guns? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266650)

1) Get target in sights.
    2) Pull trigger until ammunition is expended.
    3) Reload.
    4) Repeat.

    Ya, seems like pretty much the same drill regardless of which weapon is being used. :)

Re:Why not real guns? (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266730)

This happens in pretty much every discussion involving pirates. Simply said, there are a very large amounts of ports in the world that do that ships with weapons. Beyond that, I'm sure arming your ship will bring you into completely different categories of international and maritime law that could cause all sorts of problems. And this is before we even start thinking about insurance companies.

Re:Why not real guns? (1)

m1xram (1595991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266752)

35mm? Wow, I was only thinking of a 20mm radar guided phalanx gun. You could cut their ship in half with a short burst of 20mm, but no, that's not good enough for you! lol

Re:Why not real guns? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266910)

no fancy 35mm canon for me, i'd load my boat with ninja's.

Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (5, Insightful)

Braintrust (449843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266526)

Are we really that politically correct now that even killing a pirate is wrong?

Pirates. Not a down-trodden minority.

Kill them. All of them.

It's the right thing to do.

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266562)

Many countries have laws against commercial ships carrying weapons under their flag. And even more countries have laws against armed foreign-flagged ships docking at their ports. It gets real complex real fast. Non-lethal weapons keep a captain or shipping line's options open.

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (1)

Logic Worshipper (1518487) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266572)

The trick is telling the difference between pirates and fishermen, or other innocent people. With this, big deal if it's used against the wrong person. With bullets it's another story. Leave the killing to the pros.

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (5, Insightful)

Braintrust (449843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266698)

No.

There's no trick to it.

If you're approaching a large commercial ship of any kind, plying its trade in the waters off the coast of East Africa, and you continue to ignore the many and varied warnings to do otherwise, you deserve to get shot. The innocent people you're concocting out of thin air for the sake of juvenile, devil's advocate, argumentation... is breathtakingly naive.

I have a feeling you're a part of the Confetti Generation.

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (-1, Flamebait)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266868)

If you're:

(i) approaching;

(ii) a large

(iii) commercial

(iv) ship of any kind

(v) plying its trade

(vi) in the waters off the coast of East Africa

(vii)and you continue to ignore

(viii) the many

(ix) and varied

(x) warnings to do otherwise

(xi) you deserve to get shot. The innocent people you're concocting out of thin air for the sake of juvenile, devil's advocate, argumentation... is breathtakingly naive.

Let's deal with these in turn:

(i) Define "approaching", please. Almost every commercial waterway in the world has strict traffic requirements. Under the broadest (and most reasonable) definition of "approaching", there are two vessels approaching each other in every port in the world hundreds of times a day. Do you mean "approaching on a ramming vector"? I doubt it, because pirates don't do that. They have guns, you see.

(ii) Define "large", please. Are we talking hundred thousand ton tankers? Are smaller vessels not worthy of protection? Frankly, this term is not just ambiguous, it seems to be misleading, because I doubt you believe that commercial ships below a certain size do not deserve protection from pirates.

(iii) How is one to know that a vessel is a "commercial" vessel? Can pirates approach cruise ships with impunity in your world? Does it matter if the vessel is not carrying cargo, but is merely returning home? Again, this seems to be ambiguous and misleading.

(iv) When you say "ship of any kind", do you mean rafts? Viking ships? Lobster boats? Since you've previously said "large" and "commercial", I doubt it.

(v) "Plying its trade" seems to be related to "commercial"... So, again, if a ship is returning home for repairs, they're fair game for pirates?

(vi) When you specify "in the waters off the coast of East Africa", I assume you mean to disregard piracy in the rest of the world? Frankly, sir, I do not believe we should pardon piracy anywhere, and I'm disgusted at your suggestion.

(vii) When you say "continue to ignore", does that require an affirmative action - i.e. hearing a warning, ignoring it once, and then continuing to ignore it? Because if the warning was not heard the first time, such as a broken radio, then it cannot be ignored continuously, as you suggest. Furthermore, this seems to imply some knowledge of the actions of the pirates. Are you saying you know what actions the pirates are taking on their ships? Are you in league with them?

(viii) You've said "continue", and so here when you say "many", I wonder whether you're referring to two warnings, three warnings, a dozen warnings, etc. It's simply not clear, and as such, is invalid.

(ix) and when you say "varied", are you suggesting that radio communication - even repeated radio communication - isn't enough? So, you'd refuse help to a merchant vessel that had continued radio communication with pirates merely because they didn't vary their method of communication? That's a horrible suggestion.

(x) As discussed above, vessels are mandated to "approach" each other in coastal waterways. Warnings to "do otherwise" would be illegal and invalid. Why are you suggesting that merchant captains break myriad laws?

(xi) And in sum, you suggest that the Captain of an oil tanker in the waters off the coast of East Africa who "approaches" a "large" "commercial" "ship of any kind", fully obeying the law, "deserves to get shot" merely for passing another oil tanker.

Frankly, sir, leave the international maritime law to the international maritime lawyers, and focus on your true strength... Being an Internet Tough Guy.

I have a feeling you're a part of the Confetti Generation.

There you go, now you're getting the hang of it, Mr. ITG.

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266936)

Actually, of the two of you, it looks like you're the one who sees himself as an 'internet tough guy'.

That was a pretty ironic post.

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (4, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266714)

The tipoff would probably when they start coming at you with highspeed boats (they only use slower larger "fishing boats" as motherships, they need small highspeed boats to catch their prey) and start firing warning shots with machine guns and RPGs.

The real reason they are not using real weapons against the pirates isn't because the couldn't be sure they were shooting the right people, but rather because docking at ports becomes much more complicated legally when you are carrying weapons.

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (5, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266584)

Self defense its self is politically incorrect these days...

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (3, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266620)

No, but most countries aren't going to let your ship in their waters let alone to dock in their ports if it is loaded out with machine guns and torpedoes.

And shooting fisherman whom you mistake for pirates in generally frowned upon.

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (5, Interesting)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266678)

Before you attempt to kill them, you have to be certain that they are a pirate. Legally certain, not just Slashdot certain.

Fouling their prop doesn't require quite such a high standard of proof, and gets the job done, at least till they get their hands on some jet boats.

It's also not too smart for a pirate to escalate from a small disabled boat -- if someone on that ship had some means of firing back, that could only be deployed against proven pirates, well, you just gave them proof.

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266760)

Ok. How about this. Your ship is not armed because it wants to be able to dock anywhere in the world. So you've been under attack and fighting them off with water cannons. You got some friendly navy on the radio and they send a chopper your way. So it's like... 10 minutes out when the dudes in the ship start turning tail. What the hell do you do? Fuck up their props. Just like how mace is used instead of guns in some cases, you'll use this device instead of guns in some cases.

But yes. Just shooting them when you get charged by dudes in speedboats would be a nice solution. Too bad the economics don't really work out.

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (2, Insightful)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266780)

That's a bad idea. Typically the pirates don't kill the crew. If you started having hostile crews using lethal force against pirates, you may see the pirates escalate their attack and use more deadly force. In the end everyone loses.

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (1)

Chrutil (732561) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266792)

Someone with mod points like pirates...

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266848)

+1 Insightful

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266814)

Most of the people doing the actual "pirating" have been pushed to it by their government. The source of the problem isn't greed, it's necessity (with a decent payoff, too).

Re:Pro-tip: Shoot them dead. (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266856)

Yes...we are that politically correct. It's wrong to kill anyone now...haven't you heard? Especially bad people. Bad people aren't really bad you see...they just have had a bad childhood or are misunderstood. It's even possible that they are actually just trying to make a living off the corporate monsters that own the shipping lines. These evil corporate people make lots and lots of profit and should share it with the pirates so they can buy food and mp3 players for their children. After all, pirates are people too. arrr!

Golf Balls aren't to bad - (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266528)

Good enough to kill with even.

Does this remind anyone of the machine gun on the Not For Hire from Phillip Jose' Farmers River World series? Sure, it shot plastic bullets, but close enough.

Re:Golf Balls aren't to bad - (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266550)

Reminds me more of an over-sized potato gun. Even looks like pipe, a valve or two, and maybe a discarding sabot.

In other news (1)

Son of Byrne (1458629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266532)

the RIAA has requested testing of their own anti-"pirate" air cannon that shoots a surge of electricity down a suspected "pirate's" electrical connection. Municipal utility companies: you're either with us or a godamn terrorist.

No prop? (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266556)

Not all boats have propellers. This won't work against jet boats.

Re:No prop? (5, Funny)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266648)

It also won't work against pirates riding trained sharks, which you're about as likely to see.

Re:No prop? (1)

krenrox (1689506) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266790)

It also won't work against pirates riding trained sharks, which you're about as likely to see.

I think a net would be very effective against trained sharks, unless of course.. .they had.. friggen lasers.. on their heads.

Golf balls? That's pretty much just grapeshot (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266576)

Golf balls at high speed will kill. Sounds like you're moving into real weapons now.

It seems to me to board your ship, these pirates must pull up alongside. And your ship will be a lot taller than theirs. Why not fire or just plain drop a large cannonball (sphere of metal about a foot in diameter) through the deck and hull of their ship? It'll sink quickly and they'll be in a really bad way.

You could even use a video camera to look down over the gunwale and aim so that you don't have to be in the line of fire to do it.

Re:Golf balls? That's pretty much just grapeshot (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266642)

The ship would be hard to board if there was nothing for a grappling hook to grab.

Re:Golf balls? That's pretty much just grapeshot (1)

JuzzFunky (796384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266866)

Even harder if the handrail had 50,000 volts running through it...

Re:Golf balls? That's pretty much just grapeshot (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266744)

I vote for boiling oil.

Go around? (1)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266578)

Wouldn't the pirates just go around the rope? I mean, if it's got a big parachute attached to it, it can't be that hard to see what the merchants are doing...

Re:Go around? (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266644)

With that much forward inertia, a wide enough net cast close enough to the boat would be impossible to avoid. Kind of like trying to miss the deer that just ran out in front of you. Never mind coming to a stop; can you even get your foot on the brake pedal before impact?

I hope they use "used" golf balls (1)

ctmurray (1475885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266586)

To save money they should us "reload" or used golf balls. They could use the lowest A grade since they don't care about surface imperfections.

Re:I hope they use "used" golf balls (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266702)

    I'd think if they're firing golfballs like a shotgun, they should be able to use just about anything. A good high velocity rain of rocks would probably be very satisfactory, and leave a less distinguishing mark. :)

    "Dunno what killed these guy, but there were a bunch of loose rocks on the deck. Must have been a meteor shower." :)

Re:I hope they use "used" golf balls (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266748)

Bolts, Preferably the cheap low tensile kind.

What's wrong with the good old 5"/38? (0, Redundant)

Nimey (114278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266594)

Mount deck guns on merchies traveling through that part of the world. Sink pirate boats when they approach. If you need something more close-in, perhaps surplus 20mm Oerlikon or 40mm Bofors guns from that same period would do.

Problem already solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266602)

What's wrong with a good 'ol Ma Deuce?

How about a 5" deck gun (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266612)

Why all this squeamishness to try to find a "non lethal" way to disable pirate boats?

They're bloody pirates.

A nice 5" deck gun firing relatively low velocity HE rounds is easy to train on, quite lethal, and remarkably easy to mount on the deck of a merchant ship of any appreciable size.

Anti-pirate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266622)

These are pirates. Why disable them? Just lob a few torpedoes into them and sink them.

Golf balls...come on! (0, Redundant)

mrtwice99 (1435899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266628)

Seriously, why on earth would you want to defend yourself or a cargo ship worth millions of dollars with a compressed air "rope" thingy that can also shoot golf balls? Install 50 cal machine guns, a few rocket launchers, and teach the crew how to use them.

Why use non lethal weapons? (0, Redundant)

kawabago (551139) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266652)

Find a pirate vessel, sink it. Don't look for survivors. Soon there will be no more pirates.

Re:Why use non lethal weapons? (1)

Cobra Spaz (1480491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266758)

This is not necessarily the case... There is always another pirate who thinks they are smarter than the previous ones. Why does the US have so many murderers even though many states have the death penalty?

If this logic were true people would stop killing people because they don't want to be put to death. However it seems that people murder people because A. They were in a blind rage, or B. They thought they could get away with it. In either case they did not stop to think about the consequences of their actions.

This is the same with the pirates... no matter if you kill the pirates or not... there will always be more pirates to come after you and I highly doubt they will be thinking about the consequences of their actions, because of course they think they will get away with it.

I don't think that it is necessary to to use deadly force when it is avoidable. I am an Iraqi Freedom veteran and I have seen my share of unnecessary violence, It doesn't matter what someone has done or tried to do to you, killing someone is not something easily forgotten. It is better to leave that option only as a last resort to save ones own life.

golf balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266662)

they should use srixon zurc's if they're going to use golf balls for the piercing ball flight and lower launch angle

lets hope the pirates dont get clever and start catching them and putting them on e-bay as one hit wonders

Why are we playing games with these thugs? (1, Insightful)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266768)

They only understand force.

Arm the crew when they get into hostile waters. Put the arms under lock and key when they leave hostile waters.

Announce before entering a port that you have weapons, but they are locked up. Let the harbor pilot have the key and verify weapons are secure before allowing the vessel into port. Then get the key back when existing the harbor.

More 'nets! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30266782)

I thought it was pretty clear that the best way to deal with pirates is with lawsuits and DMCA notices. I don't see how throwing more interwebs at them is going to help.

Perfect people to test - Pirates! (2, Interesting)

shacky003 (1595307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266784)

The group on Whale Wars should test this puppy out.. They can't seem to launch a proper prop fouler line for anything..

Browning M2 - Accept No Substitutes (4, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266828)

How difficult would it be to equip ships with Browning M2 [wikipedia.org] .50 machine guns and man a watch for incoming pirate vessels. The Browning M2, with an maximum effective range of 1.2 miles, could turn those pirate skiffs into driftwood long before the pirates were in AK-47 or RPG range. Shoot em full of holes and leave them for the sharks; when word gets around the piracy doesn't pay, the pirates will forced to give up or be killed. From all appearances the pirates are in it for the money so they will give up if piracy doesn't pay; after all, dead men tell no tales and spend no money.

Re:Browning M2 - Accept No Substitutes (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266914)

Tell me, at a glance, what makes a pirate vessel look different from a fishing vessel?

Yeah, I don't know either.

Re:Browning M2 - Accept No Substitutes (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266932)

I completely agree. If you're in international waters, these idiots have whatever is coming to them. I think two of these [wikimedia.org] would be more than sufficient to turn them into fish food.

Re:Browning M2 - Accept No Substitutes (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266942)

Because it would be illegal in most national waters.

Well personally (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30266922)

I think an M2HB (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M2_Browning_machine_gun) would work better, but that's just me.

Seriously, I think it is time for nations to let cargo ships going this route arm themselves. We can set limits to the type and amount of weaponry, as well as require things like it be locked by the captain when the ship comes to port, but this is getting silly. I don't think it is right to tell the sailors that they can't respond when fired upon.

It also seems to be the only real solution at this point, well unless the world is interested in going in to another unstable region and trying to enforce their way, however it seems there is a recent example of why that is perhaps not a very good idea.

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