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New Laser Makes Pirates Wish They Wore Eye-Patches

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the scuttle-the-lens dept.

Crime 645

vieux schnock writes "The New Scientist has an article about a new laser developed by a company in Farnborough, UK, that aims to deter modern high-seas pirates. Devised as a 'warning shot' to 'distract suspected pirates rather than harm them,' the meter-wide beam can scan the pirates' 6-metre skiffs and make it difficult for them to aim their AK-47 or rocket-propelled grenades at the ship."

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Cue something about sharks (5, Funny)

vakuona (788200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816090)

in 3...2...1

Re:Cue something about sharks (5, Funny)

badran (973386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816100)

Sharks

Re:Cue something about sharks (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816218)

World of Warcraft has an Undead guy riding with a mounted laser gun mounted on a flying shark. I think they have insiders...

Re:Cue something about sharks (2)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816320)

World of Warcraft has an Undead guy riding with a mounted laser gun mounted on a flying shark. I think they have insiders...

Yeah, WoW does have a flying shark with a frikken laser beam. [procrastin...cation.com] We are so screwed... THE END IS NIGH!!!!

Re:Cue something about sharks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816204)

Finally we have an answer to why the Slashdot editors do such a PISS-POOR JOB of proofreading the stories they submit. From the summary (emphasis added):

the meter-wide bean can scan the pirates' 6-metre skiffs

They're outsourcing the actual editing to low-wage Mexicans. That ... that explains so much. English as a second non-native language and all of that.

Re:Cue something about sharks (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816270)

The sharks are firin mah lazers?!?! NO!!!

Re:Cue something about sharks (1)

orange47 (1519059) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816456)

won't somebody please think of the sharks?

Re:Cue something about sharks (0)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816558)

Not bad, but I was thinking about it from the other direction: I thought that the answer to pirates was more DRM, not lasers. I expected a story about some sort of new laser for reading optical media that would ensure copyright protection. I thought the eye-patch thing was some kind of metaphor or something comparing software pirates to actual pirates.

I have a better idea (2)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816102)

Why don't they just put a sniper or two as look out on these cargo ships? Any small boat that approaches without radio, and they have arms, you start picking them off. I'm pretty sure that my idea will be more effective at preventing piracy on the high seas. Lots of ex-military guys who would be qualified.

Re:I have a better idea (4, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816136)

It's actually quite difficult to snipe from a moving ship.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816196)

The US Navy seems to manage it OK:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30178013/ [msn.com]
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123953580718311447.html [wsj.com]

"MOMBASA, Kenya -- In a daring high-seas rescue, U.S. Navy SEAL snipers killed three Somali pirates and freed the American sea captain who had offered himself as a hostage to save his crew...."

Re:I have a better idea (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816278)

Luckily, active-duty Navy SEALs are approximately representative of the sniping ability of your average nautical rentacop, so there should be no difficulties with applying this scheme more broadly...

Re:I have a better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816468)

The US Navy seems to manage it OK

At an extremely close range where the pirate weapons are also effective, and using guys who are far better trained and practiced than you will find commercially and in the numbers required. Hitting at a moving target from a moving target is something that most fully trained and qualified military snipers can *not* do. Those that get the necessary additional training and practice are an extremely small minority with an already small military community. And these are all perishable skills that are lost as they leave the military.

Re:I have a better idea (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816212)

It's actually quite difficult to snipe from a moving ship.

That's non-sense. These pirate boats are six meters per TFA. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They're not much bigger than two meters.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816400)

Yeah, but can you fit 4 to 6 pirates armed [wikipedia.org] with weapons like AKM assault rifles, RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and semi-automatic pistols on your 2 meter ship? I would be worried of the RPG maybe tipping a boat that small when fired.

Re:I have a better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816392)

Have you ever put a foot aboard one of those ships? They're huge, it takes some really serious weather to make them sway.

Re:I have a better idea (4, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816412)

It's actually quite difficult to snipe from a moving ship.

If by "ship" you mean "6 foot inflatable dingy", then yeah, it is. If, on the other hand, by "ship" you mean "cargo-hauler the size of several football fields" then no, it's not.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

mcneely.mike (927221) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816520)

Not with a machine gun, i'm sure. Fire enough bullets, you're bound to hit something... or at least deter them.
(I know, i know... that's not sniping...that's fishing with hand grenades.)

Re:I have a better idea (1)

orange47 (1519059) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816528)

hm, but the ship itself might be better target, bullet could make a hole that starts filling with water.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816560)

Not if you snipe with an anti-tank laser guided weapon.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816142)

I know it sounds crazy, but some people have moral hangups about killing people unnecessarily.

Re:I have a better idea (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816206)

I know it sounds crazy, but some people have moral hangups about killing people unnecessarily.

If you don't shoot the pirates then you may get away, but they'll attack the next ship. If you do kill them then they're no longer a problem, and it will help to discourage the others.

What's 'moral' about running away and letting these people attack someone else?

Re:I have a better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816292)

The same thing that's moral about putting offenders in jail for a while instead of killing them, despite the probabilities of backsliding.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816324)

The same thing that's moral about putting offenders in jail for a while instead of killing them, despite the probabilities of backsliding.

So you're proposing that cargo ship crews are going to board a boat full of pirates with assault rifles and perform a citizen's arrest so they can take them to jail?

Somehow that sounds rather less likely to work than just shooting them with a minigun from a safe distance.

Re:I have a better idea (3, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816482)

We have different ideas of necessity. Wanting to put killer criminals in jail time vs. execution is fine if you can apprehend them. The apprehension is a very key difference here. If you can't apprehend them, and the people that you don't want to kill are out there, still with weapons, still killing other people, then what? These criminals clearly don't have the scruples that you do, and these scruples can end in even more unnecessary deaths, this kind of criminal is probably more likely to be willing to kill many people rather than allow themselves to be captured.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816496)

I know it sounds crazy, but some people have moral hangups about killing people unnecessarily.

If you don't shoot the pirates then you may get away, but they'll attack the next ship. If you do kill them then they're no longer a problem, and it will help to discourage the others.

What's 'moral' about running away and letting these people attack someone else?

Well the problem is that it might cause the pirates to become more desperate and violent. Pirates don't kill often (only in the movies do they do that). And this has happened. In 2009, pirates took over the Maersk Alabama US Navy ship [wikipedia.org] and demanded money. In the end, the US killed 3 of the pirates and the pirates claimed "After the action they took yesterday (the sniping of the 3 pirates), we will respond with action, We're warning the owners of the other ships that if they try to attack, we will kill the crews and burn their ships." [time.com] Now according to a U.N. report released in Nov 2010, a year and a half later, U.N. report says pirates more violent. [upi.com] Maybe shooting pirates wasn't the most 'moral' idea in the end?

Re:I have a better idea (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816304)

I know it sounds crazy, but some people have moral hangups about killing people unnecessarily.

Only some people. Why are we even paying our taxes to the RIAA if they're not upholding their end of the bargain and keeping the seas free of pirate scum and villainy?

Re:I have a better idea (3, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816336)

I know it sounds crazy, but some people have moral hangups about killing people unnecessarily.

If by "unnecessarily" you mean "when they decide to become a violent, unprovoked aggressor" then sure.

Arming the target ships is the best way to deal with this problem. It's also the one we consistently refuse to try. This is as simple as it gets: 1) pirates leave the mainland and they don't come back 2) other would-be pirates decide that robbery isn't the best way to improve their situation 3) piracy declines.

Many people fail to understand that for the same reason they fail to understand that states which enact conceal-carry laws experience lower rates of violent crime. That is, it goes against their religion because certainly no contact with the facts would cause one to miss the point. The point is: criminals love helpless targets who can't effectively fight back. Criminals really hate facing targets that are as well armed as they are, or better armed, because at this point their instinct for self-preservation kicks in.

The religion says that conceal-carry would lead to the Wild West all over again, with gunfights in the streets everywhere. The facts say that conceal-carry leads to more timid, less aggressive criminals who'd rather not end up in a gunfight, have no idea which person is armed, and cannot effectively choose vulnerable targets. The religion says that arming targeted ships would result in many more armed conflicts at sea. I believe the facts will be the same as they've proven to be for conceal-carry, only more so, since we can arm every ship that goes through dangerous areas and not just a fraction of them.

Whether it's on foot in the streets or on ships in the sea, the basic predator-prey nature of violent criminals and their victims remains unchanged.

It doesn't bode well for us as a society that we have such a large population of adults who are in strong denial of anything they perceive as an ugly reality. Rather than work to change an ugly reality, they pretend that the facts are just someone's perspective, like an opinion. It's ... disturbing when you really think about it.

Re:I have a better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816540)

Some countries might be reluctant to let ships full of armed Halliburton bandits and rapists dock in their ports... The Somilis are doing in the high seas the same thing that the "coalition of the willing" are doing in the mideast desert. Piracy is cool as long as the plunder heads our way

Re:I have a better idea (4, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816344)

While your point is a valid concern, I have no reservation about killing a group of armed men looking to take over a ship by force, and who will gladly kill you in order to get money. I don't like the idea of killing someone, but by the same token, if someone breaks into my house and is holding a weapon, I will shoot to kill.

No, this is what is called "defending yourself" and I would wholeheartedly support. Is there a non-pirate scenario whereby a small, fast boat would approach a cargo vessel, with a bunch of armed men, without radio contact? Didn't think so. Shoot first.

Re:I have a better idea (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816518)

While your point is a valid concern, I have no reservation about killing a group of armed men looking to take over a ship by force, and who will gladly kill you in order to get money. I don't like the idea of killing someone, but by the same token, if someone breaks into my house and is holding a weapon, I will shoot to kill.

No, this is what is called "defending yourself" and I would wholeheartedly support. Is there a non-pirate scenario whereby a small, fast boat would approach a cargo vessel, with a bunch of armed men, without radio contact? Didn't think so. Shoot first.

The idea of being able to effectively defend oneself against a violent, unprovoked aggressor really seems to bother the hell out of a lot of people. I can't be the only one to notice that. All kinds of people will come out of the woodwork with arguments amounting to "you should have sympathy for the devil" and/or "criminals somehow don't choose to disregard their own safety when they violently attack others". Both are bullshit.

If you're so worried about your own safety then don't become a criminal who violently attacks others. If you become a criminal who violently attacks others, understand that you have voluntarily chosen a dangerous lifestyle and will have to accept the consequences.

That's particularly true for the home-invasion scenario you bring up. I want breaking into the homes of strangers while they are at home to be as risky (to the perpetrator) as possible. The world is a better place that way. Why would you want to make that easier to do, or safer to do in the form of laws stating that a homeowner would ever face any kind of civil/criminal liability for anything that happens to those who do this? Anyone else notice that if you oppose things like warrantless wiretapping, then "you want the terrorists to win" but if you support bad laws no one accuses you of "wanting the home-invading criminals who threaten your family to win"?

Anyone see how one-sided that is, or how clear the message is? State power good; personal initiative and independence bad; know your role; submit. It extends to the point that they don't even want ships to be able to defend themselves but wouldn't dream of opposing the efforts of the Navy to rescue the hostages of said pirates.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

errxn (108621) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816184)

My solution, while similar, would instead employ RPGs (or other appropriate weaponry) in a procedure known as "blow them the fuck up."

Re:I have a better idea (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816200)

Because you generally leave killing as a last resort. If you use the laser and they keep coming with hostile intent, then you break out the sniper rifle.

Violence is the last resort of the incompetent. (-1, Troll)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816402)

The competent on the other hand go to guns much MUCH earlier.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816530)

Because you generally leave killing as a last resort.
 
I don't know if that's either smart or moral in this case. Being kind to the pirates = being unkind to the NEXT ship they target after you had a chance to take them out and instead decided to just scare them away with your laser. Now, if you could somehow arrest them or otherwise disable them without killing them, great, but that's not the case here.

Will not work (5, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816208)

This will not work because:
  • Have you ever considered the difficulty of using, say, an Armalite on the bridge of a cargo ship? Last time I checked, snipers did not use moving platforms, or aim at rapidly moving targets . Therefore, range would be greatly reduced.
  • It could be several seconds, or even tens of seconds, between clear shots. So: you wound one pirate. The others start firing RPGs and AK-47s. These do not need to be accurate.
  • If pirates assume armed response, they will start shooting the moment they come within range. Therefore, casualties will mount.

Bottom line: I suggest before coming up with idiotic suggestions, you actually google a bit of naval history. (And yes, I did do a feasibility study on missile attack defenses based on cannon, not rifles, and even they are not a very good defense.)

Re:Will not work (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816224)

It could be several seconds, or even tens of seconds, between clear shots. So: you wound one pirate. The others start firing RPGs and AK-47s. These do not need to be accurate.

That's why you forget sniping and just install a few 7.62mm miniguns or .50-caliber machineguns.

Re:Will not work (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816240)

Just get a phalanx system installed. End of problem.

Re:Will not work (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816348)

So, 1.5 million a pop(not counting the necessary radar, integration, staffing, and maintenance), per turret(larger ships would almost certainly need more than one, to prevent attacks on their blind spots), to deal with a problem that affects under 1% of the ships passing through that area?

I'm fairly sure that that sound I hear in the distance is the actuaries at Lloyds laughing through their stiff upper lips...

Re:Will not work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816372)

What port in the world is going to let you dock your cargo ship with 50 cal machineguns mounted on the deck?

Re:Will not work (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816410)

A friend of a friend has a .50 caliber machinegun on his yacht, which apparently has proven effective in discouraging pirates while sailing around Asia. He says it's not an issue where his friend travels so long as it's locked away while in port.

And considering that most countries allow friendly navy ships in ports, there's no reason at all why they should be unable to deal with visiting cargo ships with far less dangerous weaponry.

Re:Will not work (3, Funny)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816470)

Any port that doesn't have gun emplacements big enough to stop me.

Re:Will not work (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816288)

Cargo ships are large stable platforms.

Sniper rounds have much better range then 7.52x39 (AK rounds).

Moving targets are a challenge but not an insurmountable one.

The main problem with putting snipers on cargo ships is lack of snipers.

I suggest machine guns instead.

They still have the range to reach out and touch someone before they can shoot back effectively.

Plus they can take out the whole boat full of pirates, or at least leave them to die in a disabled boat..

Regarding your suggestion: Ironic at the end of an idiotic response that obviously has not considered the extensive history of sharp shooters in navel warfare.

Re:Will not work (2)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816416)

I think the point that is being missed (although I thought it was obvious) is that the moment you put a bullet in one of the guys on the boat, they are going to turn away. They will have no idea how many people have guns on the cargo ship, they will only know that they are now vulnerable. Pirates are cowards, they aren't wanting to get in a gun fight, they want to be the only ones with the guns during the fight. These Somalian pirates are not military trained, hell, most are likely not even literate, and certainly not the most disciplined. They ARE determined, but only when they have the upper hand.

Also, it is the pirates that will have trouble shooting from their small craft, which will be rocking back and forth. As you point out, a large cargo vehicle is rather stable in comparison.

Re:Will not work (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816534)

I don't see that as a feature (allowing the pirates to escape), rather a bug.

Once the pirate boats start to simply disappear into the sea the Somali pirates will realize they are vulnerable.

Re:Will not work (1)

whitehaint (1883260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816358)

lol, you know the USCG uses scoped rifles to shoot the engine on a moving boat from a moving helicopter, right?

Re:Will not work (2)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816504)

Have you ever considered the difficulty of using, say, an Armalite on the bridge of a cargo ship?

Yes I have, it would be quite easy to crank off shots. We aren't talking about a crab boat, these are huge, stable platforms that don't pitch and sway nearly as much as you might think.

So: you wound one pirate. The others start firing RPGs and AK-47s. These do not need to be accurate.

And they won't be accurate, because their TINY craft will be pitching back and forth. Particularly if they are stupid enough to try to shoot an RPG from one. And I'm pretty sure that once you start dotting their eyes with bullets, they will run away. These aren't disciplined, trained military men. They are thugs with guns that operate using the same tactics as any other bully. Ever see what happens when someone finally pops a bully in the eye?

If pirates assume armed response, they will start shooting the moment they come within range. Therefore, casualties will mount.

Again why I said snipers. They will turn around before they get into range. Also, cargo ships are not exactly teeming with humans on the deck, they look abandoned even when they have a full crew. You could likely go wild with an AK47 using a dozen clips from just inside range, and never hit anyone. Particularly since everyone go below deck (except the sniper) and they will be shooting UP at the boat. And an AK47 isn't going to pierce the hull by any stretch of the imagination. I'm pretty sure that at that distance, it couldn't even penetrate a shipping container. Even Mythbusters uses them for that purpose, at near point blank range.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816266)

So your sniper is asleep when they take the boat. Finding an armed man, they kill everyone onboard, and take the high quality rifle to replace their 40 year old barely functional AK knockoffs.

So now you need 24/7 snipers. Say 8 hour shifts, and now you have three more crew than you used to. That's roughly doubling the compliment. That ain't cheap.

I'm not saying I agree with this logic, but that's the logic.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816386)

Why don't they just put a dial going up to 11 on the laser?

Re:I have a better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816404)

Why don't they just put a sniper or two as look out on these cargo ships? Any small boat that approaches without radio, and they have arms, you start picking them off. I'm pretty sure that my idea will be more effective at preventing piracy on the high seas. Lots of ex-military guys who would be qualified.

Actually the US has a lot of redneck hunters we could loan the ships. Just issue hunting licenses with a bag limit and set up a blind for them on the front of the ship. You'd want to set a bag limit because if they took too many then the environmentalist would have the pirates considered an endangered species.

Cost and international treaties are why no weapons (4, Informative)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816432)

Cost and international treaties are two big reasons why merchant ships aren't armed. If you want military on board with weapons, well a 24/7 hour crew is going to cost a fair bit of money. Merchant shipping tries to cut costs as much as possible.And you aren't just going to put a crate of machine guns and sniper rifles on board and hope that the ship's cook or the 18 year trainee engineer on a cruise ship are going to know how to operate them correctly in an emergency situation, probably more likely to end up hurting themselves or the passengers than anybody else.

Plus international treaties come into play. It's all well and good suggesting you're going to mount miniguns etc or even just AK47s on your ship but a lot of countries aren't too happy about armed merchant ships turning up in their harbours. Can't imagine American authorities would be too happy about accepting an Iranian ship sailing into New York with a crew of marines on board manning deck mounted rapid fire machine guns.

Re:Cost and international treaties are why no weap (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816450)

Can't imagine American authorities would be too happy about accepting an Iranian ship sailing into New York with a crew of marines on board manning deck mounted rapid fire machine guns.

What do you think they're going to do? Invade America with a few marines and machineguns?

In any case, the weapons would be dismounted before docking and then locked in a safe by customs. If the crew remove them from the safe while in dock, then you throw them in jail or shoot them.

Re:Cost and international treaties are why no weap (3, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816564)

What do you think they're going to do? Invade America with a few marines and machineguns?

Thank you for saying what he should have already known. It won't take crates of weapons to start with, and the only time you need to have anyone armed is in KNOWN dangerous waters. The route between NY and UK? Um, probably don't need it for that route. Going around Somalia? Good time for weapons. You don't need the snipers on guard for the entire journey, or even most of it.

Personally, I say you take a fake cargo ship and roam around the area with a full compliment of trainees and give them some real world experience. I have no moral problem with taking out people who are armed and dangerous and whose only goal is to harm others.

Re:I have a better idea (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816442)

"Why don't they just put a sniper or two as look out on these cargo ships?"

That's what I'm talking about. They seem to be going our of their way to make sure the defensive means for the lawfully traveling cargo ships is non-lethal. What is the point? It would be more expensive than conventional means, and I'm not sure the results would be all the spectacular or useful, successful or not. Seems like the deterrent effect of conventional, lethal means, should be in play for something like this.

Foiled (1, Interesting)

Umuri (897961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816110)

This is then foiled when pirates spend $10-20 on a pair of tinted glasses that filter out red light.
I've always thought lasers, while useful, are a very bad countermeasure to human eyesight, being as they are very narrow spectrum.

Next!

Re:Foiled (2)

Dan Morenus (179942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816192)

This is then foiled when pirates spend $10-20 on a pair of tinted glasses that filter out red light.

Except that it's a green laser. If they can find a pair of sunglasses that filters out the right frequency of green light without filtering out the rest of the light they'll still need to see and operate, then that could be a countermeasure. At the least it would force them to change their mode of operations somewhat.

Re:Foiled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816220)

From TFA:

"Sunglasses wouldn't help," he says – in fact, wearing them would only exacerbate the effect. That's because the glasses would not affect the green laser light – chosen because that colour is particularly irritating – but the laser would appear even brighter contrasted against the darkened background.

Although they don't say anything about a pair of glasses that filter out green light, which I suspect are less common and higher priced, but not that difficult to find.

Actually... green light. (5, Informative)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816248)

From TFA:

"Sunglasses wouldn't help," he says – in fact, wearing them would only exacerbate the effect. That's because the glasses would not affect the green laser light – chosen because that colour is particularly irritating – but the laser would appear even brighter contrasted against the darkened background.

I'm guessing they think that people who can put their hands on automatic weapons and RPGs, sales and purchasing of which is regulated/prohibited in most of the world - won't be able to put their hands on some $25 protective glasses [dragonlasers.com] sales and purchasing of which is not regulated/prohibited anywhere in the world.

Re:Actually... green light. (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816474)

More to the point, laser power levels are rather tricky because anything on the low end can be blocked with relatively cheap optical safety hardware which(while it probably isn't currently available at Arms 'r Us' Mogadishu branch it is quite easily and legitimately available for not much money) and anything on the high end, high enough to avoid such cheap and simple countermeasures, will blind unprotected human targets in moments. Given the, no doubt excellent, quality of care for burn victims and the blind in the area, that may actually be less humane than a bullet to something vital.

Since dealing with pirates is not considered "war", the fact that using weapons designed for blinding is a war crime probably won't be an issue(in the same way that cops can use chemical weapons, even though soldiers can't); but any laser powerful enough to discourage all but serious n00b pirates is really not a nice device. Blinding, burns, the whole deal. If you are willing to blind and burn, you might as well skip the pricey, unproven wiz-bang shit and just use lethal weapons.

Re:Foiled (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816420)

This is then foiled when pirates spend $10-20 on a pair of tinted glasses that filter out red light.

The red [or green] light from a military-grade laser weapon? That just might cost you more than $20.

Re:Foiled (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816476)

Or, until the pirates come up with some way to guide an RPG using a laser.

It's not like laser detectors are that expensive, and a rudimentary steering mechanism, controlled by a few laser detectors mounted at various angles, would steer the RPG right down the barrel of the laser.

Sure, the pirates aren't exactly known for their technological prowess, but this sounds like an invitation for them to start figuring it out.

Re:Foiled (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816546)

Forget glasses, use something like Inuit snow goggles (prevents snow blindness)

Don't look at approaching ship (4, Funny)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816116)

with remaining eye.

Re:Don't look at approaching ship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816508)

hey dumbass... 20 miles from the shore of ANY country there ARE NO LAWS!! so killing pirates would mean nothing...

Bean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816118)

I can just imagine a meter wide bean scanning pirates.

Re:Bean? (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816180)

I can just imagine a meter wide bean scanning pirates.

They feed these beans to sharks and get the most awesome gas lasers [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Bean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816222)

And in the later books, he continues to get bigger due to Anton's Key, which is why he use near light-speed space travel while a cure or treatment is worked on.

Re:Bean? (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816436)

Wait, this laser is operated by Mr. Bean?

Wouldn't a machine gun do the job better? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816120)

Seriously.

Shoot them and they will not bother anybody again.

You do realize that... (0)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816360)

Killing people is illegal, and that in most of the world "but they started it first" is NOT a valid excuse?

Also, gun license from one country is just a piece of paper in another. And most countries don't allow civilians to own automatic weapons.
Go tell your crew "Oh yeah... when you get to your destination you will all be arrested, ship will impounded and you will all end up in jail. BTW, we don't have a consulate in that particular country. Also, their police might just shoot you to be on the safe side. Good luck and safe sailing."

And then there is all that morality of killing another person thing. See... not everyone grows up to be Jared Lee Loughner.

Re:You do realize that... (2, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816448)

Excuse? WTF. I don't need an excuse.

Self defense is justification.

You think that after I kill a boatload of Somalian pirates in international waters I'm going to submit myself to Somali justice?

I'm just going to go on sailing and pick up another thousand rounds at my next port of call.

Killing a pirate is morally different from killing a random person.

One is morally required. I'll leave it to you to figure out which.

You clearly don't realize that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816472)

...for most of the world's history, merchant ships were *heavily* armed for the sake of defending against pirates.

You want to make a dent in piracy? Bring back armaments to merchant vessels.

Re:You do realize that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816494)

Killing people is illegal, and that in most of the world "but they started it first" is NOT a valid excuse?

When in international waters having a group of people pull up next to you in a unflagging boat armed with guns (likely the machine-gun type) and possibly some type of rocket launcher... and that is your world view on the issue?

A meter wide? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816124)

That's a big bean.

meter-wide bean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816130)

the meter-wide bean can scan the pirates' 6-metre skiffs

Wow, that is one big bean. Is it a pinto or perhaps a kidney bean?

Re:meter-wide bean (1)

qeveren (318805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816272)

I'm not sure hitting someone with a meter-wide bean is really "not harming" them... those've got to be heavy!

Re:meter-wide bean (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816566)

Well, according to Wikipedia, the Pinto [wikipedia.org] is 4.1 metres long, 1.76 metres wide, and 1.3 metres high.

The question is, can you find enough of these that aren't already either a pile of rust flakes, or a fireball, to use against all the pirates?

related? (4, Funny)

Jeek Elemental (976426) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816154)

Import of mirrors and mirror related paraphernalia spiked sharply in Somalia, leaving traders baffled.

meter-wide bean? (5, Funny)

theskunkmonkey (839144) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816160)

> meter-wide bean

That's a huge bean!

Re:meter-wide bean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816290)

no, no...

Devised as a 'warning shot' to 'distract suspected pirates rather than harm them,' the meter-wide bean can

I'd love to see the pneumatic cannon they use to launch that sucker

Re:meter-wide bean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816516)

In Soviet Russia (and high seas), GMO bean scans you.

Aren't lasers intended to blind "illegal"? (2)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816262)

I thought there was some international weapons treaty that said developing laser weapons with intent to blind is a no-no (burning enemies to death is okay).

Re:Aren't lasers intended to blind "illegal"? (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816322)

Please read the article, thanks.

Re:Aren't lasers intended to blind "illegal"? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816330)

Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects [un.org]

Protocol IV on Blinding Laser Weapons prohibits the use of laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision, that is to the naked eye or to the eye with corrective eyesight devices. The High Contracting Parties shall not transfer such weapons to any State or non-State entity.

Re:Aren't lasers intended to blind "illegal"? (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816332)

I think this applies only to lasers with intent to permanently blind. If it just forces the enemy to not look/aim at you but without injuring them, I think it should be in the same group as smoke screen, flash bangs and other "less lethal" weapons. Also maybe this would allow this laser to be mounted on mercant ships without violating international laws.

Re:Aren't lasers intended to blind "illegal"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816350)

Did you even read the summary?

Devised as a 'warning shot' to 'distract suspected pirates rather than harm them,'

Hint: "Blinding" is a type of harm... but wait, there's more! If you bothered to RTFA:

By taking into account the range of the target, as well as the atmospheric conditions, the system can automatically regulate the intensity of the laser beam to ensure there is no lasting eye damage

Re:Aren't lasers intended to blind "illegal"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816414)

Pirating is illegal too...

wise investment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816280)

Pirates only do what they do because they are poor and are just trying to feed their families.
Imagine they actually invested it in the cause of the problem!?

Re:wise investment? (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816382)

Pirates only do what they do because they are poor and are just trying to feed their families.

I'm assuming you're a serious lefty bleeding-heart and not just a troll. Apologies if you were just trying to satirise said bleeding-hearts.

The pirates do what they do because they know the good guys won't shoot back, so it's an easy to way to get rich; there was a news story a while back about some Somali businessman who had invested his money in piracy because it was so profitable. He sure wasn't doing to 'feed his family'.

Counter Measures (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816312)

It will not be long before pirates will implement their own counter measures. In related news, the price of mirrors has gone up in the last 2 months...

Re:Counter Measures (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816394)

Why lasers you can get one of those pain beams [wikipedia.org] , a digital system can auto aim the thing at the approaching thing, you also crank the power up to eleven and fry the damn fuckers.

In other news... (0)

LevonB (1099459) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816396)

In other news, fish are mysteriously dying all over the planet.

Root cause of the problem (5, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816426)

The root cause of the problem is that, most port authorities and countries prohibit a merchant marine ship from having arms on board. So cargo ship with machine guns would not be permitted to dock on most harbors and ports in the world. That is the reason for these ships from being armed. These guys are coming up with stupid weapons like water cannons, beamed sound waves, and now lasers, because they would not be called "arms" by the ports.

Simpler solution would be to have a ship or a platform offshore, just on the international waters as close to the port as possible to act as an armory. Cargo ships check in their weapons into the armory, sail into the port, unload, reload, return, pick up their weapons and go their way. Between the armory and the port, a distance of about 10 or 20 miles, the Navy or the Coast Guard of the country should provide escort and patrol services with destroyers and cutters.

That would be a sane and cheap solution understandable to one and all. All the news reports about gizmos like laser beams really have an entirely different purpose. Some company somewhere making a key component of such a system is looking for investment or begging to be sold out. The PR firms step in, come up with such "news" stories and create some media interest. Once the company got bought out or got its investment goals met, these news reports also would melt away like fog.

I'm at a total loss here... (1)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816434)

Why in the world would I want to 'deter' someone from pointing AK-47s or RPGs at my ship? If I actually thought I was in danger of being overtaken by a pirate ship with those weapons I'd much rather just blow them out of the water and be done with another ship of vermin. This article's intro really has me perplexed. Do I want to help conspirators make better decisions, or protect my crew that I am on the high seas with for eternity by cleansing the waters of such riff raff with a real weapon like AK47s and RPGs of my own. Or better yet, a skin melting micro wave gun that will make the scumbags of the high seas feel as if they are cooking alive. I think that would change their minds faster than a visual deterent they can look away from or have filtered/reflective glasses to make the laser meaningless.

A much better idea would be.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816486)

to put multiple drones high up in the sky (like 60K feet). Have them track the various boats. Most importantly, they track boats/ships that came into contact with each other. If an attack is spotted/radioed occurring on a ship, then the drones launch smart bombs against the SMALL crafts AND THE MOTHER CRAFT. The most important one to get is the mother craft.

Shoop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816492)

da Sloop

This is too funny!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816500)

Oh yeah, that's what you want, blinded guys with AK-47s! Can you spell collateral damage? :-)

Meter wide bean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34816532)

Is the goal here for the pirates to eat the bean and then suffocate in the resulting gasses? Sounds like a plan to me.

The pirate's perspective... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34816550)

If a ship deploys such expensive technology as this, they must have something valuable... So lets send more pirate ships to capture it.

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