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20 Anti-Piracy Weapons Deployed In Ships To Fight Pirates

20 Anti-Piracy Weapons Deployed In Ships To Fight Pirates

Piracy and pirates plague the seas and threaten global trade and commerce. Cargo ships are particularly vulnerable to pirates as they are slow, travel in remote parts of the oceans, and are not armed adequately most of the time.

Somalian pirates are particularly infamous for being brutal and aggressive towards the crew. Thus, in order to keep the cargo, ship, and crew safe, various anti-piracy measures are taken along with hiring maritime security agencies . Many ships also use anti-piracy weapons to deter and defend against pirates.

List of Anti-Piracy Weapons In Ships

Here is the list of the most high-tech anti-piracy weapons deployed in ships to fight pirates.

1) Anti-Piracy Laser Device

Anti-Pirate Laser

Anti-Piracy Laser Device is a device developed by a British firm called BAE systems . It is a laser which can be used during commercial shipping against piracy. It is effective at a distance of about 1.5 km. it is used to distract the pirates in order to make them incapable of aiming properly without permanently damaging their eyes. It can be called as a warning device. Normal sunglasses cannot filter out this light and hence they will not help in avoiding it.

2) Water Cannon

Water Cannon

A water cannon is an anti-piracy device (non-lethal) normally used on merchant ships. This device can shoot a high-velocity stream of water which is impenetrable. it is so strong that it can blow away the pirates which are trying to come on board the ship. It can also fill up the enemy ship with water to decrease their speed and disturb their maneuverability. This is a very powerful system but still non-lethal.

The device usually consists of a powerful water cannon placed strategically all around the ship. They draw the seawater and can be easily controlled from the bridge. This weapon is also highly effective in controlling fires and contributing to the overall safety of the vessel.

Photo courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/guano/326497174 6

3) Electric Secure Fence

Electric Secure Fence

An Electric Secure Fence system is a system that consists of an electrical fence surrounding the shape and hence preventing pirates from coming on board. The system also helps in detecting a boarding attempt by warning the crew and can also scare away the trespassers by starting a very loud siren and floodlights. It is however non-lethal.

The system of fencing is collapsible and can be removed when not in use. It needs to partly do so when it is entering a harbor all when another board needs to come alongside.

Pics courtesy: http://www.delticgroup.com/secureshipfencingsystem.html

4) Nets or Boat Traps

A boat trap is a kind of system which is used to stop pirates and their boats when they come closer to a merchant vessel. It is a ballistic net. It is a good system that can help in the defense of a vessel while avoiding the need to use guns or other such lethal weapons and posing threat to the crew or other people if it is near a harbor. Destructive and extensively tested in the Caribbean and US waters. Most of the time, they are used to entrap smaller boats that may be operated by terrorists, pirates, or smugglers. It is an efficient system to be used in crowded areas such as the Gulf of Aden.

5) Slippery Foam or Mobile Denial System

Mobile Dual System or a Mobility Denial System is a non-lethal strategy used to slow down the movement of trespassers rather, avoid them from climbing the decks of a ship. Slippery foam or substance is used to make the deck of a ship slippery and therefore how to walk or stand on. This substance has a high viscosity. The substances also normally non-lethal. this method is being highly used by military and security forces.

6) Long Range Acoustic Device

Long Range Acoustic Device - LARD

Abbreviated as LRAD, a Long Range Acoustic Device is a device that is capable of emitting a 151 dB sound. It can do so within 30 degrees of wherever the device is pointing. It is used to drive away pirates. It was developed by an American technology corporation. It can produce a high-pitched sound that is painful to human ears. In fact, it can cause permanent ear damage. It was about 210 kilograms and has a range of about 300 to 500 meters.

It is mainly used by the military but has also been used on some cargo and cruise ships . The sound wave can be canceled with the help of normal earplugs and hence minimize its effect. This is one of the biggest disadvantages of the device.

7) Foul Smelling Liquid or Liquid Deterrent System

The system comes from the International Maritime Security Network of the United States. In the system, the approaching pirates are showered with a foul-smelling liquid. This liquid is capable of stinking and burning. It causes such a burning sensation and emits such a foul smell that the pirates feel the need to jump into the water and hence it prevents a pirate attack.

The substances are usually shot towards the target with the help of a stun gun. It is similar to a taser gun except that the use of liquid streams. This is a non-lethal system normally used in the areas in and around the Gulf of Aden.

8) Razor Wire Canister or Anti-boarding Device

Anti-boarding Device

Razor wire canister or an antibonding device is another anti-piracy system. It prevents pirates from boarding the vessel with the help of canisters with sharp razor wires. This is currently the most commonly used anti-piracy deterrent. Razor wire is installed around the perimeter of a ship. This wire acts as a wall or a barrier between the ship and those wanting to trespass.

This restricts the movement of pirates onto the ship considerably. However, this method is somewhat disadvantageous as there is always a fear of a crew member getting injured or infected by handling the razor wires.

Photo courtesy: http://vpsystems.co.za

9) Compressed Air – Ship Borne Shore Launcher

Compressed Air Gun

A product of a UK-based company, a Ship Borne Shore Launcher is an anti-piracy system consisting of a cannon-shaped device. This device uses compressed air in order to fire a variety of projectiles. It is generally a non-lethal system. However, it can be very powerful or even lethal depending upon the distance in which it is operating. It normally has a range of more than 400 m. This system is accepted as an important safety and survival system. Much like any other anti-piracy system this system is also used extensively in and around the Gulf of Aden.

10) P-Trap Anti-Piracy System

P-Trap Anti-Piracy System

P-Trap Anti-Piracy System is a simple and yet effective measure against piracy. It is non-lethal. It consists of floating lines creating a safety zone around the vessel. This floating line can trap propellers of pirate vessels. These lines are so small that are almost invisible and are thrown directly under the surface of the ocean.

Once installed this system can be used without monitoring at any time of the day. This is considered as one of the best anti-piracy systems as it provides additional security to the crew members, can be used in all kinds of weather conditions, and is very simple to install and apply in vessels without the involvement of the crew.

11) Anti-Piracy Curtain

Anti-Piracy Curtain

An anti-piracy curtain is a system which consists of a series of hoses being dangled out from the sides of a vessel. They are weighed to keep themselves close to the surface of the water. When water is pumped through the hoses, they fling around violently, making it difficult for possible trespassers to board the ship. The force is nearly 0.2 megapascal. This method is often employed in commercial ships and vessels as they are not allowed to carry arms in international waters. Hence, it is a non-lethal anti-piracy system that can be used by all without any difficulty.

12) Maritime Early Detection System

Maritime Early Detection System

A Maritime Early Detection System is not exactly a weapon, but it can be equipped to provide active deterrence. It is a system consisting of a sensor network with infrared tracking vision cameras working day and night in addition to the onboard radar equipment. The system can be used to detect the presence of any other shape or vessel nearby and take action against it if it turns out to be a threat.

13) Superfly

Superfly is an unmanned non-lethal air vehicle. It is an extra watch stander that keeps a vigilant eye on the horizon which is beyond the limits of human eyesight. It is a small and easily portable device and is cost-effective at the same time. It is very effective in looking for other vessels nearby and then takes the necessary precautions or actions if required.

14) Rubber Ball Grenade

Rubber Ball Grenade

Rubber ball grenades are a very effective measure against piracy. They are non-lethal weapons that spray rubber bullets on detonation. they are also capable of producing lights and sounds in order to deter the pirates from approaching the ship or vessel. They are also called sting ball grenades. These grenades can cause serious injuries. They are normally used in defense and military matters.

15) Active Denial System – Pain Ray (Electromagnetic wave)

Active Denial System

An Active Denial System i.e. an ADS or a pain ray is a weapon used against piracy. It sends a small narrow beam of electromagnetic energy to heat the skin. It is non-lethal and does not cause any permanent damage. The electromagnetic wave can penetrate beneath the skin and cause an unbearable burning sensation making the trespassers or pirates jump overboard. It was developed by the US military and is also known as the heat ray. The working of this device is quite similar to that of a microwave oven. It has a system consisting of a gyrotron that emits the waves at a certain frequency with the help of a reflector.

16) Molotov Cocktail

A Molotov cocktail is a general term used to refer to any bottle-based improvised incendiary weapon. They are also called gas bombs, bottle bombs, or firebombs . Many a time, they are used by the crew of the merchant vessels which are not provided with anti-piracy weapons or security guards. A Molotov cocktail is simply thrown into an approaching pirate boat to disturb their maneuverability by setting it ablaze.

17) Taser – Electric Shock

Taser

A taser is a non-lethal weapon that can be used by the crew of a ship in case any pirates manage to get on board. Taser stands for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle. It is a kind of gun that can be used to give an electric shock to the victim and temporarily cause him or her to lose neuromuscular control.

18) A nti-Piracy Fire Hoses

Anti-piracy fire hoses are extremely powerful hoses that are effective in fighting against pirates. They shoot out streams of water with high pressures. Some anti-piracy fire hoses may also come with remote control systems. They are non-lethal and do not cause serious injuries. These fire hoses are capable of driving away from the pirates by getting in their eyes and at the same time flooding and attacking their boats at a good rate.

19) Stun Grenade

A stun grenade is an anti-piracy device that can produce a loud noise and a blinding flash of light. The flash of light has a magnitude of around 7 million candela and the sound is louder than 170 decibels. It is also known as a flash grenade. It is a non-lethal weapon.

They do not cause any major injuries and merely aim at disorienting the senses of the trespassers temporarily. The flash of light is as mentioned before capable of blinding the victim for a few seconds and also temporarily deafens him or her causing a loss of balance.

20) Dazzle Gun

Dazzle gun is another non-lethal weapon similar to a stun grenade. It uses intense directed radiation to disable its target temporarily with flash blindness. These targets can be humans as well as sensors. It emits infrared lights and does not cause any long-term damage to the eye. It has found good use in the marine world, as an anti-piracy measure. Here, these guns are used to dazzle the pirates.

Pics courtesy: https://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2010/03/history-the-piracy-mission-then-and-now/

anti piracy weapons for yachts

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How to Protect Your Superyacht From the Real-Life Pirates of the Caribbean

There's a new raft of nonlethal anti-piracy 
tools to help keep you safe., julia zaltzman, julia zaltzman's most recent stories.

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Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean

While literature and cinema might romanticize pirates on 
the high seas, in the world of superyachts the threat of pirate attacks is all too real. And in some areas, such as along the coast of Africa, in the Gulf of Aden, and in the Indian Ocean, it’s now expected, shockingly enough. Even Latin America and the Caribbean experienced a 163 percent increase in recorded attacks in 2017.

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But boat owners can arm themselves with a new raft of nonlethal anti-piracy 
tools, most designed for early detection and preventing pirates from boarding. For experienced yacht captain 
Michael
 Schueler, at the 
top of that list is 
the Long Range 
Acoustic Device
 (LRAD), a sonic weapon that delivers
 earsplitting, high-
volume acoustics via a
 tight beam (so neither the LRAD’s operators nor others nearby are affected) over long distances. It “did a good job,” he says, when the 197-foot Linda Lou came under attack from pirates in multiple skiffs in 2010 while en route to the Abu Dhabi Boat Show. Schueler says the LRAD ended up being one of their most effective (and most expensive, at about $20,000) methods of deterring the pirates before help came from the Royal Navy. In the same vein, an anti-piracy laser device, such as a dazzle gun, uses a nonlethal laser beam to temporarily blind or distract pirates. Both devices are easily operated by crew and can be used day and night.

More advanced defensive weapons include the Active Denial System—a.k.a. the pain ray ($5 million)—which transmits a narrow beam of electromagnetic energy to heat the skin and causes an unbearable burning sensation, and spy-worthy security smoke, which fills the yacht with a cloud of dense, white fog that reduces visibility to less than a foot.

Disable thieves with the LRAD’s sonic beam

Disable thieves with the LRAD’s sonic beam.  Illustration by Mark Nerys

Onboard CCTV, door-locking systems and deck-mounted pressure sensors that detect movement and weight on the deck floor are more common in standard security packages, along with armed security personnel on 24/7 watch in high-risk zones. Collapsible electric fencing and underwater sonar detection systems can also keep pirates away and those on board safe.

“The most important thing we did was develop a plan, and then drill, drill, drill with the crew,” says Schueler. “That helped us more than anything. We also deployed barbed wire on our swim platform, had flare guns to shoot flares into their boats and had line launchers to shoot in front of the approaching skiffs to ensnare the propellers and disable their vessels.” While it may not be the prettiest solution, barbed wire is an effective one: It is rolled out across the beach-club deck and kept there the entire time the yacht remains in dangerous waters. Ideally, no guests are on board during such risky crossings, so no one is swimming.

Engage the electromagnetic pain ray if pirates get too close

Engage the electromagnetic pain ray if pirates get too close.  Illustration by Mark Nerys

Other possibilities include metal weather plating putting over windows and turning off both the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and the navigation lights at night to hide the ship’s presence. If you do leave the AIS on (some pirates use it as well), it’s a good idea to broadcast an “Armed Security Detail on Board” status message as a deterrent.

“At the first sign of threat, before any shots are fired, all crew apart from the captain gather in ‘the citadel,’” says another captain, in Hampton Bays, N.Y., about protecting passengers. “The citadel is chosen for its ability to be isolated and secured from the rest of the vessel and to resist any efforts made to gain entry from outside.” For him, this is usually the crew mess; for Schueler, the engine room.

Confuse interlopers with a cloud of security smoke

Confuse interlopers with a cloud of security smoke.  Illustration by Mark Nerys

And if that’s not enough, there are always water cannons, which deliver a powerful and impenetrable stream of water that blows away pirates trying to board the ship—think the ultimate water gun. The cannon can also quickly fill the pirates’ boats to slow them down while your yacht makes its getaway.

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Armed and Dangerous: Carrying Weapons Against Maritime Piracy

  • By Cameron J. Rhodes
  • March 20, 2024

Silhouette of a man holding a gun while standing on a boat, overlooking the ocean horizon.

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When Rapscallion ’s charter guests finally arrived—hours behind schedule for a trip to Bimini—Capt. Larry Withall and his mate, Jason “Tiny” Walcott, disembarked from their slip in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a quick trip to the Bahamas in 1995. The two men chatted with Withall on the way out, asking various questions about the 65-foot Hatteras, seemingly interested in general safety procedures. They even asked what the crew would do in the case of piracy. Hours later, under a pitch-black sky, the guests suddenly stripped their friendly facades and brandished firearms. With a machine gun held to their heads, the Rapscallion crew realized that pirates were already on board.

When I think of pirates, I envision the likes of Capt. Jack Sparrow and other similar Hollywood characters. Fortunately, I’ve never had to contend with, or even consider, the threat of piracy at sea. However, after researching this article and speaking with seasoned captains who have experienced such incidents, my perspective has changed. While it might seem like a relic of a rum-drenched past, piracy is still a potential threat for sport-fishing crews and remains something to be prepared for today .

Modern-Day Piracy

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’s abbreviated definition of “piracy” is “any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft.” While that’s a lot of jargon, it can all be distilled simply to attacking or robbing ships at sea.

The International Maritime Bureau, a division of the International Chamber of Commerce, established its Piracy Reporting Centre in 1992 to assist with maritime safety. Following the United Nations’ definition of “piracy,” the center compiles data on piracy incidents around the world and publishes comprehensive reports. In addition, the nonprofit organization offers a 24-hour hotline for crews to report active attacks.

Acting as a single point of contact, staff will relay all the necessary information to the area’s proper authorities and warn other vessels in the vicinity. While much of its focus is on commercial shipping, the center also takes reports from other vessels, including fishing boats, yachts and other pleasure craft.

As of September 2023, 99 incidents had been reported for the year—a 10 percent increase from the year before. Of those, 53 incidents occurred in Southeast Asia, 23 in Africa, 18 in the Americas, three in the Indian sub-­continent and two in East Asia. The Straits of Singapore, the Gulf of Guinea and the waters off Peru remain the three areas of greatest concern for the risk of piracy. While there are fishing programs that travel through those areas, the hotspots that I’ve heard the most about from captains and mates are in the Caribbean, such as the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic. Perhaps many of those close calls we hear about in casual conversation don’t get formally reported, or maybe they don’t quite meet the formal piracy definition outlined by the UN. Whatever the case, we still hear of them through social media and the coconut telegraph.

Hijacking at Sea

Whenever we hear of piracy incidents affecting sportboats, the haunting story of Rapscallion in the ’90s once again emerges from the sport-fishing community’s collective memory. Laced with emotional and physical terror, the hijacking of Rapscallion is the stuff of boating nightmares. Fortunately, both Withall and Walcott ­survived the attack. They were beaten and pistol­-whipped and lived through scarring moments when they each thought the other was dead. After a series of movie-plot events, the then-23-year-old Walcott ran the boat aground at Gun Cay, an island 10 miles south of Bimini. When Rapscallion started taking on water, the pirates launched the life raft and fled.

Black and white image of Capt. Jason Walcott.

Between the gunfire, fistfights, moments of titan strength, jumping ship, Apocalypse Now blaring in the background and split-second decisions, the hijacking of Rapscallion is the type of story that needs many pages of a book to tell it properly. Fortunately, Walcott is almost ready to publish one that has been nearly 30 years in the making. In the meantime, I encourage you to listen to Episode 71 of Dennis Friel’s Connected by Water podcast to hear Walcott’s detailed account of what happened. Withall and Walcott lived through one of our industry’s most notable piracy attacks, and their actions in a high-intensity situation helped them save each other’s life.

Withall, whom Walcott will always consider a brother and hero, sadly has passed away. Walcott, however, is very much active in the industry today. He’s worked on several boats over the last two decades and currently runs El Jefe , a 70-foot Viking that spends most of its time fishing off the Florida coast and in the Bahamas. There was a time when Walcott didn’t want to be defined by the Rapscallion story, but now, he cites the incident as being one of the most critical turning points in his life, and he discusses it with a tone of gratitude. “When I started fishing, I wanted to be good, but I didn’t take it that seriously,” he says. “After the hijacking, I had a new lease on life and recognized that I had to get serious about fishing if I wanted to make it a career. I found mentors in the likes of Ron Hamlin, Earle Keen, Larry Withall and Andy Moyes, and worked hard to learn from them and to compete with them. So really, the hijacking was the catalyst for my career growth and success.”

Three men with guns and face coverings on a boat dock.

Practicing Situational Awareness

Since the incident, Walcott has learned some things about himself that likely contributed to his survival that night. He’s a fighter, and those instincts kicked in at a time when he needed them most. “I’ve had several close calls since the hijacking,” he says. “One incident even occurred in the same area years later. Just like in captains training, the first thing I do in an emergency is slow down. It’s like pulling back the reins on a wild animal, but you have to do it. I remain very calm when assessing and determining what to do next. I’m lucky to have great situational awareness.”

Situational awareness is the ability to comprehend and effectively respond to a situation by gathering information, analyzing it and making informed decisions to address potential risks. Men and women who work in high-intensity environments, such as police officers, military personnel and firemen, are extensively trained on situational awareness and how to pull back the reins, as Walcott describes. Don Deyo, a former Green Beret and medical expert who served in the US Army for 27 years, harps on this with the courses he offers through his company, D-Dey Offshore LLC. He’s worked with over 400 sport-fishing programs around the world to help them be prepared and outfitted for the worst. “The first level in preventing an incident such as piracy is simply paying attention to your surroundings,” he explains.

As a captain prepares for any trip offshore, it’s important to confront the fact that you might be on your own out there. Practicing situational awareness, even in low-pressure situations, will help you be better prepared for the unexpected. “I think that’s something bred into crewmembers—this idea that nobody is coming to save you,” Walcott says. “We know we have to be prepared for anything because no one else is coming to the rescue. Sometimes we have to be our own security on the water, so honing all of our skills, whether fishing- or safety-related, is never a waste of time.”

To best practice situational awareness, it’s helpful to know what to look out for, and there is no shortage of that information available from others in the industry. “Before you travel anywhere, you need to do your research of the area and ask around for information,” Walcott explains. Relying on their peers, captains can collect tips on areas to avoid, advice for communicating with authorities, and other helpful best practices.

The U.S. Coast Guard pulled up next to a skiff.

Assuming that most pirates and other unsavory characters aren’t mining this article for insider tips, it’s helpful to recognize that a relatively clear pattern has emerged among incidents affecting sport-fishing vessels. Since these crimes are often opportunistic, pirates target boats that are anchored or chugging along slowly, especially those with a valuable tender in tow. “I will not pull a tender for that very reason,” says Capt. Cory Gillespie, who runs the 63-foot Titan Lunatico and spends much of the year traveling throughout the Caribbean. “I don’t fish when traveling either. I just want to get to my destination as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible.”

Two scenarios seem to be prevalent among piracy attempts targeting sportboats. First, a person on a small boat will call for aid from a nearby sport-fisherman by waving hands and holding a gas can in the air, a sign that perhaps they’ve run out of fuel. While I certainly don’t want to discourage folks from helping others, this has proved to be a ploy on many occasions. As soon as the vessel approaches to assist, the small boat suddenly picks up and runs directly at them, sometimes with additional perpetrators springing up out of nowhere. This tactic has been used several times at sea, and in some cases, the offenders had firearms at the ready. In the second scenario, a captain sees a boat—or several boats—on radar coming directly toward him at night, but none of the boats have any lights on. As they creep closer, the captain attempts to hail the vessels over the radio or shouts out to them without any response. The strangers continue to approach until they’re right on top of the sport-fisher and are close enough to suddenly launch an attack.

Using their instincts, crews who have run into such scenarios realized that something wasn’t right almost immediately. They managed to deter the threat by picking up and outrunning the small boats, proof that having a fast boat is indeed a safety benefit. In other cases, the crews showed the perpetrators that they had firearms at the ready. This brings us to a tremendously important and challenging question: Should you travel with firearms on board?

A hidden compartment for gun storage in a sport-fishing boat.

To Arm or Not to Arm

When I asked several prominent captains whether they travel with firearms, I received a variety of responses. Some said they always travel with guns on board, while a couple explained that they never felt the need. Others stated that they used to travel with firearms but eventually stopped after dealing with hurdles when declaring guns in other countries. When I asked whether captains traveling with firearms always declare them when clearing customs abroad, our discussions turned even more complicated and layered. The captains I casually polled were understandably squirrelly about all of this. Reveal too much, and suddenly you have a target on your back.

Onboard firearms are as much a legal consideration as they are a security one, and every country has its own regulations. Some require boats to turn firearms over when clearing customs. Others are more lenient. In addition, it’s not uncommon to get hustled or scammed, with officials withholding guns until they’ve lined their own pockets. Nevertheless, choosing to break the law and be dishonest about whether you have guns on board comes with some risks. “I have always declared my firearms,” Walcott says. “I have seen people get caught and spend months in jail. If you’re going to travel with guns, I strongly recommend you declare them. It’s not worth the hassle or risk for either the captain or the owner.” Capt. Trevor Cockle, who spent years of his long career running renowned boats such as The Hooker and The Madam , adds, “I’d rather take my chances without guns than deal with the consequences of shady officials. Although rare, such circumstances do occur, and I’d hate to have an owner deal with the consequences.”

As is the case with almost everything in this industry, the owner and captain need to agree on the firearms protocol before an emergency or traveling abroad. “My thoughts are that captains and owners need to have clear discussions about what the gun policy is going to be,” Cockle says. “Everybody has to be on the same page to avoid an owner ever receiving that dreaded call that there has been an incident and the boat has been impounded.”

While researching this article, it became very clear that being on the same page is especially critical for captains who are new to a program. When stepping into a new job, captains are busy learning the boat’s numerous systems as well as adjusting to new relationships with the owners. While the boat’s gun policy might not have been discussed during the interview, captains must know if there are guns on board and where they are stowed. In the rare event that the boat is boarded by law enforcement, the captain will need that information to avoid a potential problem—one that could potentially result in handcuffs. Deyo encourages crews to evaluate which firearms are the most sensible choice for protection.

Don Deyo offering training to a crew of sport-fishing anglers.

“Accompanied by extensive firearms training, I recommend folks have a semiautomatic rifle with a good scope for distance, a handgun and a shotgun,” Deyo says. “For those more comfortable with having a less-than-lethal option on board, a shotgun with pepper pellets could be a good fit. That said, if someone is trying to harm or kill you, I always like to point out that the less-than-­lethal setup might not be the best choice. A rifle would likely be the most effective for deterring a threat at a distance and can be used to disable a motor. You must have experience with point of aim and point of impact when defending yourself on the water, so as always, training and practice are critical.”

In addition to the extensive medical kits and training offered by D-Dey Offshore LLC, Deyo’s company outfits boaters with full firearm setups that are practical for use on a boat. “Having a gun stuffed away in a cabinet or a drawer isn’t necessarily effective when you find yourself in an emergency,” Deyo says. “Preparedness prevents poor performance, so we offer personalized private fittings to outfit people with the appropriate weapons so they have what they need. For example, whenever we sell a boating customer a rifle, we also include the proper magazine, ammunition and a sling; with handguns, we provide customized gun belts with a retention holster. I’d recommend that crews keep their firearms on their person or within safe reach when crossing through areas that have a history of piracy incidents. Again, it’s all about being prepared.”

The choice to have firearms on board is an entirely personal one. On one hand, guns provide added security and might deter an attack. On the other, traveling internationally with weapons comes with inconveniences, as well as added responsibilities and risks. “You’re kind of damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” Gillespie says. “But whether you’re carrying guns or not, avoiding the incident is the primary goal. Rely on things like speed and range before jumping into a gunfight.”

Read Next: Learn more about reducing the risk of piracy from D-Dey’s Don Deyo .

“We didn’t have guns on board during the Rapscallion hijacking,” Walcott says. “If we did, the hijackers just would have had more guns. I firmly believe that firearms aren’t always the solution. It all depends on the situation.”

Since the hijacking, Walcott has become a sounding board for many other captains. “Lots of people have called me with bad gut feelings about charters,” he says. “They’d run the scenario by me, and I’d tell them to turn around.” He’s embraced his ­experience and hopes to use it to educate and prepare others. Working with military experts, he’s designing an ­anti-piracy training course for crews. “As captains and mates, we’re managing millions of dollars in assets and traveling around the world. We need to be educated and prepared with the proper training. At some point, you have to ask yourself, ‘What’s the price of my life?’”

  • More: Issue 280 , Piracy , Safety Gear

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18 anti-piracy weapons for ships to fight pirates

anti piracy weapons for yachts

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anti piracy weapons for yachts

anti piracy weapons for yachts

18 Anti-Piracy Weapons for Ships to Fight Pirates

Reading: 18 Anti-Piracy Weapons for Ships to Fight Pirates

1. Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD)

Long Range Acoustic Device

3. Water Cannon

Water Cannon

4 . Electric Secure Fence

Electric Secure Fence

Secure Ship is another type of electric argue system which can be efficaciously used to prevent pirates from climbing ships .

5. Nets – Boat Traps

Nets – Boat Traps

6. Slippery Foam – Mobile Denial System

Slippery foam or Anti-traction material is a non-lethal substance which can be used to make the deck or sides of a ship slippery to avoid pirates from climbing it. The highly syrupy message well reduces traction of anything that comes in contact with it, making it difficult to walk or stand .

7. Foul Smelling liquid – Liquid Deterrent System ( or using Stun Gun)

An anti-piracy engineering by the International Maritime Security Network of US involves showering approaching pirates with glib, fetid green liquid, which stinks and burns. The burning sense and the nasty reek forces pirates to jump into the urine, thus stopping a possible pirate approach .

8. Anti boarding device – Razor Wire Canister

Anti boarding device – Razor Wire Canister

9. Compressed Air  – Ship Bourne Shore Launcher

The Ship Bourne Shore Launcher is a intersection of a UK based company. The Buccaneer Ship Bourne Shore Launcher is a cannon shaped device which uses compressed air to fire a kind of projectiles. The might and deadliness of the projectiles used can vary according to the distance of the pirates from the ship.

Read more: What is the Maritime Industry?

Compressed Air - Ship Bourne Shore Launcher

10. P Trap Anti Piracy

P Trap Anti Piracy

11. Anti Piracy Curtain

Anti Piracy Curtain

12. Non-lethal / Stun Grenade

13. dazzle gun.

Dazzle Gun

14. Rubber Ball Grenade

Rubber Ball Grenade

15. Active Denial System – Pain Ray (Electromagnetic wave)

active denial system

16. Anti-Piracy Fire Hoses 

Ship ’ mho fire hoses or limited Anti-piracy displace hoses are much used to fight pirates trying to board the ships. These hard-hitting water hoses are highly knock-down and effective to fight pirates. particular anti-piracy fire hoses besides come with semi-automatic and remote control system .

17. Molotov Cocktail 

technically not a high-tech anti-piracy weapon, Molotov cocktail has been used by a crew of a few merchant ships which were not provided with anti-piracy weapons or armed guards. Molotov cocktail can be made on ships using empty looking glass bottles, a flammable substance such as gasoline, and informant of ignition such as burning cloth wick. It can be thrown on an approaching plagiarist gravy boat to set it ablaze and disturb their maneuverability .

18. Tasers – Electric Shock

Tasers

Read more: A Man Quotes Maritime Law To Avoid Ticket

You may besides like to read – 10 Most celebrated Pirates of the Marine World Image Credits solarnavigator, ggpht, argotrade, maritimejournal, motorship, theblaze, wikipedia, blogspot, quantico

Bài viết liên quan

Marine Insight

Infographics: Anti-Piracy Weapons Used on Ships

Piracy is a burning issue in the maritime industry. The amount of money and resources spent to stop pirates are ever increasing.

Along with political and diplomatic tactics, a variety of non-lethal (and lethal) methods are used to keep somali pirates at safe distances from the ships.

Implementation of armed guards on ships is a matter of great debate. And Eunavfor  is doing a fantastic job at protecting seafarers from somali pirates.

However, there is a long way to go when seafarers would feel safe in pirate-infested areas around the world. Until then, the demand for anti-piracy weapons is going to stay.

In the below infographics, we have mentioned some of the most important anti piracy weapons (and methods) that are used on ships.

Anti-Piracy Weapons

Kindly note that there are several other systems available in the market to fight piracy.

If you know any method we have missed or that is widely used on ships, let us know in the comments below.

Disclaimer : The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.

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anti piracy weapons for yachts

About Author

Raunek Kantharia is a marine engineer turned maritime writer and entrepreneur. After a brief stint at the sea, he founded Marine Insight in 2010. Apart from managing Marine Insight, he also writes for a number of maritime magazines and websites.

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A new anti-boarding system, fitted to over 100 Ships, replaces razor wire and is crew friendly.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marine-Auto-Security-Solutions-Ltd-UK/230707487077179

to stop a crime, you need a man (law enforcer) on the ground. If you go by the latest law enforcement tactic (revenue raiser) all you need is a camera. Good luck without a man with a gun. When he takes over the boat and starts killing the crew you can put it down to prevention

All useless apparatus except armed guards.

PirateFence™ offers a safe, reuseable, and quick installation compared to the current methods razor wire is used..

Product can be see on site below mobilesefensesys.com

Armed guards are only as good as their training and offer a disproportionate response to robbers and activists. They’ve also been known to kill innocent fisherman that are trying to protect the nets that are their livelihoods. A team of 3 or 4 armed guards will only have one guard on duty at a time; therefore the potential to miss an approaching skiff is relatively high – especially in certain conditions like rising sea-states, high levels of fatigue, or when using inexperienced guards.

The largest emerging threat to commercial shipping is that posed by terrorists – a threat that armed guards do very little to deter or counter. What is required is a device that counters the plethora of threats in a scalable and proportionate manner; that can be used in conjunction with armed guards.

8 years worked all WAF LİNE under THE MAERSK CHART. Wè have a Anti-Piracy system. When an attack appeared… Ateş the bridge alarm, all crew closed the doors, immediately proceed tek engine control room. İncluding the Ecdis system and all other bridge control systems had been taken to the E.C.R. ALSO communication. Use A.A.S. According to ISPS. (Ship Security Plan) And finally, they Can’t reach there, easy control the navigation.

only way today’s day: armed 2 crew in Somalia~Suez is the ok idea if not using a hot water-jet, all other idea’s are useless Harare is a “game” ~ as just 3 days the Nato/USA/UN can arrest the pirate’s BUT not bothered of the merchent crew or officers

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Here’s How Yacht Owners Are Protecting Themselves From Pirates

By: Robb Report on March 11, 2022 at 8:00 AM

Featured Image

In the yachting world, self-defense has gone on the offensive. Roman Abramovich’s 533-foot Eclipse   is rumored to have an antimissile defense system, while the 165-foot Thunder   could potentially launch missiles of its own, thanks to Australian builder Oceanfast’s military pedigree.

Yacht Illustration

“Its multi-fin stabilization system was designed to keep the deck level for firing projectiles—even in big seas, the boat doesn’t roll,” says former captain Max Burgazli. “Another plus is that nobody spills their drinks.”

Other gigayachts have reportedly incorporated safe rooms, and the current demand for submersibles includes those who consider them potential escape pods. For pleasure cruisers, such high-stress considerations might seem counterintuitive, but yacht owners are increasingly adding security to onboard must-have lists, even on smaller yachts.

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If missiles are too extreme, perhaps bulletproofing is the way to go. Bering Yachts is now working with the luxury-vehicle armorer Trasco Bremen GmbH to reinforce its 80- to 180-ft expedition yachts. Armoring your vessel “doesn’t mean you’re going to Somalia,” says Bering CEO Alexei Mikhailov. “Random crime can happen anywhere.”

Bering and Trasco focus on the pilothouse and engine room, both vulnerable points during an attack. “Instead of a panic room, where people wait for help, it makes more sense to protect areas where owners and crew still control the yacht,” says Trasco CEO Sergej Lizun. “They lock themselves in, summon help and head for shore.”

Armoring a yacht can cost from $400,000 to $600,000, depending on the yacht’s size and details. Protected areas include the roof, the door and upgraded glass rated to bulletproof VPAM Level 6, able to withstand repeated rounds from an AK-47. The reinforcements can add up to 10,000 pounds to the boat’s weight, so it makes more sense on an explorer yacht than a planing vessel. And the structure isn’t just a steel box; the armored frame needs to be grenade-proof while still allowing for entry points to accommodate cables, vents and special locks, while the doors and walls overlap to protect from angled shots.

Boat of the Week Thunder

Beyond armored rooms, Mikhailov prescribes a combination of anti-piracy deterrents such as long-range acoustic devices that emit high-pitched noises to repel invaders, a green-light “dazzle” gun to disorient attackers and motion detectors on the decks. “Incident rehearsals” that simulate the yacht being besieged by pirates (or paparazzi) are popular for training crew, especially after something untoward has happened, says Horst Ruetten,

CEO of I.B.S. International Operative Services, a German firm specializing in superyacht security. The company has seen service requests rise 5 to 10 percent each year since 2016. Need more? IBS can also provide sonar for underwater surveillance, anti-drone systems for aerial protection, armed ex-military for questionable voyages or advisement on upcoming builds. Ruetten says client requests for these defensive systems are rare compared to, say, intruder detection systems. “We do a lot more consulting during the build and refit processes for risk analysis and protection concepts,” he says.

One last tip, from Bering’s Mikhailov: If all else fails, reverse the yacht’s stabilizers to try to literally shake attackers off the boat. “It clears the decks fast,” he says. And it’s far cheaper than an antimissile system.

Source: Robb Report 

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anti piracy weapons for yachts

  • Anti-Piracy Security – How to Protect Yourself and Vessel from the Attack

anti piracy weapons for yachts

Knowing your Enemy

Almost all mariners can name pirates’ hotspots even if waken in the middle of the night. The Gulf of Aden/Horn of Africa, Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea, Southeast Asia and especially Strait of Singapore, Venezuela coast, etc. – all these areas are infested with pirates who despite having similar goals (kidnap the crew, demand a ransom) tend to operate different weapons and demonstrate distinctive behavior depending on the region.

The International Maritime Bureau Piracy Report shows that except those hunting off the Bangladesh coast (armed by knives only) Asian pirates are by far equipped the best. Even local fishing boat was attacked with the help of M16 riffles near Malaysia in September 2018. On the African East coast pirates also use automatic or semi-automatic weapons, sometimes even RPGs; but those are applied for the dramatic effect only. West coast of Africa is littered with guns; and here pirates might be as much interested in cargo and valuables stored on the vessel as in crew kidnapping. Piracy was spurred in South America by the recent economical crisis and political insurgency. As a result, marine pirates are not as ‘civilized’ there as, for instance, in the Gulf of Aden and are prone to crude robbery.

Constant Vigilance

Regardless of the nationality, pirates usually choose the same tactic. They mostly pick bulk carriers and tankers as their victims and approach them on speedy skiffs firing at the bridge. Most attacks happen at dawn and dusk when the lights are low.

anti piracy weapons for yachts

Ideally, there might be an armed security onboard taking full care of the incident. As a rule, once they ‘convey’ by several shots that the vessel is going to offer resistance, the gang retreats to look for more vulnerable target. But armed security is expensive and still rather dubious acquisition.

Pirates Deterrents

Well, the crew have noticed an approaching danger, but pirates are usually armed and peopled onboard aren’t. There are several means of protection, though:

  • Firstly, never stop the vessel. Keep maneuvering at top speed to ensure aggressive wake which might upturn a small pirate’s skiff.
  • The easiest defense measures available are barbed wire fences , fire hoses and water cannons that are targeted at pirates to prevent them from climbing on board. The latter are often operated remotely and can also be used to fill pirates’ boats in and drown them. Another simple recipe is Molotov cocktail. Empty bottles filled with gasoline and stuffed with burning cloths were successfully used against pirates by Chinese crew in the GOA.

anti piracy weapons for yachts

Another interesting technology was presented by American International Maritime Security Network. They have developed Liquid Deterrent System – foul smelling and stinging green liquid which should be showered on the approaching pirates. As a result, the attack will die out as the substance causes people to jump into the water to get rid of the smell and irresistible skin burning sensation.

anti piracy weapons for yachts

Non-lethal Weapons

Other non-lethal weapons include long range acoustic ( LRAD ) and laser devices, Active Denial System, compressed air launcher, rubber ball grenades, dazzle guns and electric shockers which even sound unconvincing when you know that the other side has Kalashnikovs. Therefore, if above mentioned means proved ineffective in preventing pirates from climbing onboard, no further resistance must be offered.

What to Do if Pirates Are on Board (instructions provided by Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa)

  • Once the crew noticed approaching pirates the nearest coastal security service should be informed immediately.
  • If possible notify the Navy; transmit Mayday signals to all merchant vessels in vicinity and send satellite messages; make your ship as conspicuous for rescuers as possible.
  • Fortify the bridge and engine room. Use barbed wire, chains or any available resources to impede pirates’ access to these crucial points. It would also be a good idea to protect bridge personnel with body armor and helmets as it is vital to keep vessel moving whilst pirates usually fire at the bridge to make officers slow down.
  • If the vessel is equipped with a safe area (some ships are furnished with Citadel, a fortified room with a stock of food and water where crew can retreat in case of an attack), gather as many crew members as possible there.
  • Never be aggressive in your interaction with pirates; don’t make sharp movements and don’t use firearms even if you are in possession of any.
  • In case military service are able to intervene, experts of advise crew to lie down on deck with both hands empty and protecting the head; wait for further instructions from them.

According to the popular resource Statista.com, which processes information from 22,500 data channels, recent years have shown quite an optimistic downturn in the number of pirate attacks against ships all around the world. Where there have been as many as 445 hijackings in 2010; various sources spotted only 180 pirate related incidents in 2017. However, the threat is still imminent; and maritime community has a long way to go before the problem of piracy can be eradicated for good.

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7 Ways To Protect Your Motor Yacht or Ship Against Pirate Attacks

A Motoryacht is also known as a power vessel. It is used primarily for pleasure cruising and has amenities that guests can use overnight.

Cruising on a yacht is quite a luxury. Although movies romanticize pirates, and it all seems like fiction pirates do exist. In real life, a pirate attack can be quite traumatic.

When pirates attack a yacht, they rob guests of their money and passports, and often they have guns. Piracy rates have increased dramatically, so before you set off on a cruise, you need to ensure that the area you are visiting is safe. Ensure that you also have security.

Since piracy is on the rise nowadays, new amenities and technology are being added to yachts to ensure guests’ safety and comfort on board. The shipping industry continues its fight against piracy.

anti piracy weapons for yachts

Yacht owners are spending millions to set up military-style technology on their yachts, and they train their crew on how to avoid conflicts. The security on vessels ensures that the guests, assets, and staff are well protected.

Most yachts are now equipped with some of the best non-lethal weapons, hidden armed panic rooms, and secret escape pods for the utmost safety. Listed below are ways to protect your yacht or catamaran against pirate attacks.

1. Citadel Armored Escape Room and Escape Pods

The concept of hidden citadel rooms is gaining popularity and being incorporated in both new and existing superyachts these days. They are fully equipped with their water, ventilation systems, communications, and food supplies.

In case of a pirate attack, people on board can get into the hidden citadel room and stay put until help arrives. The advantage is that the room has the amenities mentioned above while ensuring that everyone is safe.

As a yacht owner, you can have a sense of peace knowing that everyone aboard your yacht will be safe and protected in case of an unforeseen pirate attack. Ensure that this room is only used during an emergency.

A citadel escape room can only be installed in a yacht that is 60m in size and above since it requires a lot of space. You should note that you are more likely to be a target if you have a large vessel compared to a regular-sized yacht.

Some developers are in the process of attempting to create emergency escape life pods. The pods feature high impact resistance with a global positioning system, temperature control, air purification, fire barrier control, and watertight.

2. Anti Drone Protection

It is essential to have anti-drone protection because it identifies and detects drones up to 20km plus within your range. It also provides the drone’s speed, where it is heading, and the GPS position of both the pilot and the drone.

If the drone spotted is established as a threat to your yacht, the anti-drone protection system will enable a 500m plus electronic zone to be created around the yacht. This zone is an exclusion zone, which means if the drone approaches the exclusion zone, its video or control signal will be blocked by it.

Once it is blocked, it will be forced to go back to its operator, or it will have to land. There are various anti-drone protection systems in the market that you can choose from depending on your needs. Some offer features such as capturing and recovering rogue drones while they are intact and with their payload safe.

It is essential to have an anti-drone protection system since you can prevent pirates from spying on your yacht, which helps prevent your crew and guests aboard from getting attacked. The use of drones for spying purposes has been on the rise since anyone can buy and learn to operate a drone.

While shinning a bright light at a drone to prevent it from getting any footage is also a solution that could work, you may not always be aware of drones capturing footage from your yacht. Understand the system so you can tell when you are being attacked and how to retaliate.

Pirates can use drones to deploy explosives or poisonous gases, so you need to ensure that you can defend yourself against such an attack. With a unique system, you will be able to identify a threat in good time. Therefore, ensure you get a protection system that will best protect your crew and guests from any danger.

3. Underwater Sonar Detection Systems

Underwater sonar detection systems can detect, identify, and track divers or any underwater vehicles that could be approaching your yacht. It does not matter which direction they are coming from.

Once they are detected, the security personnel will be alerted of the imposing threat. Underwater detection systems can identify any impending targets or threats for up to 1200 meters range.

An example of an underwater sonar detection system is the sonardyne sentinel. It is lightweight and small. It can quickly deploy off a boat, install in a fix, or port along a coastline. This gives your yacht an underwater security shield instantly. There are various underwater sonar detection systems, but some can only be used by the Navy.

Underwater sonar detection systems also give out the position, distance, and type of underwater threat that they detect in real-time. It is essential to know the intruder’s position because it is easier to deploy the right security measures.

You could either emit acoustic signals or send a boat to the position the diver is located. An element can be incorporated into the system to send a message to the diver, letting them know they have been detected.

You could either send this message in real-time or pre-record it. However, note that underwater detection can be complex and complicated as it is affected by an environment. For instance, sonar surveillance tends to be more complicated in warm waters.

If you find the right underwater sonar detection system, it will offer you a comprehensive detection system even in warm waters. Ensure you consult with an expert so they can help you pick the best underwater sonar detection system.

4. Long Range Acoustic Device

Long range acoustic device (LRAD), also known as sound cannons, is a non-lethal anti-piracy device. It drives away any intruders by using pain-inducing sound beams. An LRAD is a sonic weapon that produces a high-pitched noise that is higher than the average tolerance level of a human being.

Initially, LRADs were only used in cruise and cargo ships. However, they are now being incorporated into yachts to ensure that any intruders are kept at bay.

There are various models to choose from, and they can be heard for up to a distance of 5km. An LRAD also allows your vessel to warn, notify and hail to any approaching ships at closer ranges with either a pre-recorded or clear voice message in any language you choose.

It ensures that the voice command messages are understood and heard unmistakably by approaching vessels that may not have responded to the radio call. This helps in creating a large standoff zone around your yacht. LRADs can inflict severe permanent harm such as tinnitus, hearing loss, barotrauma, and vestibular dysfunction.

5. Dazzle Gun

A dazzle gun is a laser weapon. It uses green light to temporarily blind and disorients pirates. Its concentrated green light blast can be used both during the day and at night. GLARE HELIOS is a non-lethal visual disruption laser or dazzler that the FDA has approval.

It can be used by both maritime and yachts. It can be used in various configurations such as rail-mounted, integrated into non-lethal systems like remote station operation, and being hand-held.

When an individual approaches the restricted area, the laser will hail to give off a warning to them before shots start getting fired.

A dazzle gun also has a red dot laser that can be used at night and in broad daylight. To ensure that the beam is eye-safe at any distance, it uses the following technologies:

  • Near field detection, which shuts off the laser emission if a person is too close to the laser output.
  • An infrared laser rangefinder determines the distance to a person, and the closer they are, the lower the laser output.
  • A motion detector that shuts the laser off if there is sudden movement and will turn it on when stability has been regained, and the accurate distance between the person has been re-established.

6. Cloaking System

If you are a first-time yacht owner, you may need to consider getting a cloaking system to protect your assets, crew, and guests from a pirate attack. A cloaking system is essentially designed to offer protection during a limited time, from when the alarm is activated to the time the response team arrives on the scene.

When the alarm goes off, the cloak emits a mist that will confuse the intruders or pirates, forcing them to retreat until help comes in.

The smoke is organic and is created using a special glycol solution, which reduces visibility to less than one foot. A cloaking system can also allow the guests onboard to safely get into an escape room if a yacht has one while the pirates are confused by the emitted smoke.

This way, if the help does not arrive soon, the pirates will not harm anyone on board, since they will be safely hidden in a citadel.

7. Robots for Surveillance

Technology has brought about the creation of a throw-able micro-robot known as a throwbot. A throwbot has a microphone fitted to it to ensure it records audio, and it also has a color camera that captures imagery at 30fps. Therefore, it allows the yacht operators to get instant audio and video footage both outdoor and indoor.

A throwbot is appropriate to use in anti-pirate operations since it is quite helpful. It can be deployed to board a ship then send footage back since it is remote controlled. It has infrared illuminators that help it see in darkness, so low light will not be a problem.

It can also locate objects, whether they are injured or armed, and reveal a room’s layout. It can also allow the operator to see around corners.

The video and audio of a throwbot can be transmitted up to 45m distance through the door, windows, and walls to reach the operator control unit. It is dust and water-resistant and can crawl over various terrains.

Depending on your need and requirements, you can integrate a throwbot with a range of equipment. Several builders have also developed robotic skiffs, which are used to send out distress calls. This is often a strategy used by pirates to bait their target.

If you are a new yacht owner, it will help if you attended safety seminars and consulted with experts in yacht security. You do not have to employ all the listed security measures. Only use those that make sense to your yacht’s size and the routes you plan on cruising.

You must do proper research before setting out on a cruise to ensure that your chosen route is safe. Ensure that you also work with professional and experienced crew members whenever you are going on a long cruise.

You could get bodyguards if you deem it necessary to increase the security on your yacht. Ensure that everyone is walked through the security measures and precautions to take when you set out on a cruise. Walking everyone through steps to follow in case of an attack ensures that they are well prepared and know what protocol to follow.

It is essential to protect your yacht because you will be protecting everyone aboard, and you will also be protecting your asset. There are various other security measures you can employ to ensure your yacht is protected against pirate attacks.

As mentioned earlier, get in touch with a security expert so they can guide you on what the best security measures are and which ones will best suit your yacht. Make sure that the security measures you employ are legal.

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anti piracy weapons for yachts

Piracy Issues: To Carry Guns On Yachts, Or not?

pirate alley map pirates in africa

Our Experience with Piracy In The Red Sea

Piracy in the Red Sea ( one of the hotspots ) is still a problem. It has been a peril, long before we sailed up the Red Sea in 1993. Yachtsmen remain an easy target for attacks as they are considered low risk to “pirates” and are now perceived to be able to attract high ransoms as hostages. Most attacks on pleasure craft, however, are opportunistic piracy by fisherman and they are usually not heavily armed…not that it is any less threatening. But yachtsman can usually deal with this kind of pirate by travelling with one or more “buddy boats”, maintaining radio silence, and not using navigation lights while in a high risk area.

Our trip up the Red Sea took us through the gulf of Aden to Djibuti, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt and in spite of the conflicts, civil wars, and piracy, we had a good trip. We never felt threatened when on shore. But we had some concerns on the stretch around the horn of Africa off Somalia into the Gulf of Aden. There’s a 100-mile long danger zone where Somali and Yemeni pirates prey on passing ships and yachts (as illustrated in this picture from yachtpals). We wanted to get through this as quickly as possible.

The Red Sea with its notoriously bad weather, sand storms (or haboob as it is known around those areas), semi-submerged oil rigs, and the Suez Canal was a milestone achievement for us. It was possibly one of the most interesting experiences of our voyage. We teamed up with a “buddy boat” to make a radio silent passage through “pirate alley” and we reached our destination without incident. However, our “buddy boat” friends were not so lucky and were buzzed one moonless night as they approached our anchorage off the Yemeni coast. We were already anchored when we received a radio communication from them letting us know that they may have a possible piracy incident in the making. They were very uncomfortable and felt threatened by this boat trying to come alongside as they steered away trying to avoid the pirates.

They had no weapons on board but knew that we did and that we could defend them and ourselves if need be. We could see them and the pirate boat approaching on radar and instructed them to get to us as quickly as possible. We turned our deck spot lights on to guide our friends into the anchorage and to put the pirates on notice that our friends were not alone and not easy prey. As soon as the pirates realized that they were not alone, they left very quickly and we all felt considerable relief and calmed the nerves with a wee dram of whiskey.

To Carry Weapons On Board Or Not

This incident could have turned out much differently, however, and that begs the question: to carry weapons on board or not? This is a much-debated subject. Many people cruise without guns for moral or practical reasons. They either don’t like the idea of taking a life or simply don’t want the responsibility to secure and declare it. Our friends fall into this category and therefore did not carry any weapons on board but they did not object to us having weapons and were totally comfortable seeking our protection. Since sailing yachts are so slow and vulnerable at sea, we decided early on not to leave our safety to chance and we placed some firearms on board along with a sealable safe to secure them. Having been in the military, Stephen is well trained in weapons and combat techniques and we felt comfortable using it if necessary. We would rather not have to use a gun and truthfully, we have never felt threatened enough to use a gun anywhere. The fact is that the majority of cruisers who have guns on board never use them, much the same as a life raft and any other “worst case scenario” equipment.

We have heard every argument for and against carrying weapons on board and we have possibly heard more objections than not. The most notable argument against carrying weapons: IT IS DIFFICULT AND CUMBERSOME TO DECLARE. That could be true but since guns are considered ship’s equipment it can usually be declared while doing your formalities with customs and immigration without a problem. We have a sealable bonded locker on our boat and in our experience, most countries accept that as adequate as long as they can seal and inspect it themselves. Other countries like Australia will insist on having the gun in their custody while in their waters and logistically, that could make checking out of the country problematic as one doesn’t usually check in and out in the same port. As I understand it, firearms may be detained in safe storage for transhipment to your intended port of departure in Australia but I am not sure about the exact circumstances. Clearly, every country has its own laws regarding guns. We have traveled through more than 45 countries and have declared our weapons in most of them and we did not have any difficulty…perhaps some inconvenience. Overall, it comes down to a personal decision.

Choice Of Weapon For A Yacht

Before you make a choice when buying a gun for your boat equipment consider this: it’s good to keep in mind that police and the military generally don’t like to be outgunned and arming yourself to the teeth with paramilitary styled tactical weapons like an AK-47 may not be the best idea. In some countries, carrying military ammunition is frowned upon, if not totally illegal, but not so with hunting ammunition such as a 12-gauge pump action shotgun. So choose your weapons wisely. Reliability is another issue to consider. Remember, we are living in a harsh environment and the salty air can be hard on stainless parts. So generally, the less complex the gun, the easier to maintain and the fewer problems you’ll have. But every gun will require maintenance of some kind so the simpler the better.

We have sailed in many parts of the world and have yet to encounter anything life threatening besides erupting volcanoes, hurricanes, and rogue waves. The truth is, most people do not mean you harm. But don’t be naive and remain alert for there is always the exception.

Check out the Piracy Pages on Noonsite.com

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3 thoughts on “Piracy Issues: To Carry Guns On Yachts, Or not?”

anti piracy weapons for yachts

I definitely fall into the category of thinking that it’s better to be armed and do what’s necessary regarding formalities in each country than to leave your safety (and the safety of loved ones) to chance. In addition to a pump action shotgun, I also plan to carry a handgun. Is there anything else you recommend, ie, hunting rifle?

anti piracy weapons for yachts

Sad to hear a American couple was thrown possible over board while vacationing on their beautiful yacht. Perhaps, if they had weapons to protect them selves they might to be alive with a fighting chance. On the other hand as a African American female it’s important to point out, that many wealthy or middle class white Americans are completely in denial concerning the correlation, between violent poverty and social disorder. This problem exist not just in the ghetto areas of America. Yet, also in the poor areas of the Caribbean, but also in the coast lines of different African undeveloped nation states. As long as serious poverty, lack of basic resources , high unemployment, corruption, lack of democracy, climate change, crime will continue to rise!!!!!! To ignore this is dangerous!

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Superyacht Security is an ongoing concern for both crew and owners. Whether you are docked or out at sea having the right systems in place makes all the difference.

With the potential threats of piracy, terrorism, and the ever-present criminal issues at port and at anchor, security concerns are an increasingly harsh reality for superyacht owners. At Virtus we understand both owners and crew have a range of requirements and we offer a cross section of options to fit every requirement.

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Our Less Lethal Firearms options provide the ultimate superyacht security provision, inclusive of weapon and crew training as required. Many owners and crew want a fulltime security solution, without having fulltime armed security.

Whether bodyguards or crew security are on board or not, the legality of having licensed firearms on board can cause and array of logisitcal issues with local, national and international laws.

These Less Lethal guns are legally clasified as paintball guns whilst the ammunition classes as training rounds. This means the weapons can remain on board at all times so whether you have bodyguards or a security officer, no matter where you are you are able to utilise a weapons system to engage any conflict at distance.

This ammunition has incredibly high stopping power and will neautralise any threat as well as being effective against drones. Provision and Training can be provided direct at your location or from our faciltiy. More information here or Contact us now for a quote.

anti piracy weapons for yachts

We offer a range of Crew Security Training courses to ensure that superyacht crews are capable of handling all the risk associated with security both at sea and when docked. Training covers a range of subjects including Less Lethal Firearms, Tactical Self Defense, Pre Hospital Emergency Care and Emergency First Response and many others.

The courses can be carried out wherever you are based, with our team coming to you and your vessel as well as providing a training facility in London, UK. To find out more about these courses contact us here .

We are able to provide Bodyguards and Close Protection Teams for superyachts who are highly experienced operatives who have additional relevent experience to help them assimilate with the rest of the crew and the specifics of the role. We also have multi lingual, culturally aware officers as per the clients specific requirments.

Whether it’s a full team or individual, short or long term contract, we have the perfect solution. To hire a team member contact us here .

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We offer Risk Assessment for Transit as well as for Port & Marina to ensure owners, guests, crew and assets are kept safe and the correct proceduers and protocols are in place for the appropriate insurance coverage. This can be combined with our Security Consultancy, Crew Training, Close Protection Officers and Security Tech options.

Post Risk Assessment our client can action all of our additional services and support as required. Our team are on hand 24hrs a day to assist. For more information or to book an assessment contact us here .

We are able to supply, fit and train our clients on a number of Defense Systems ot ensure their vessel and guests and crew are fully equipped for any eventuality. Ballistic Protection of ket areas of the vessle ans well as advanced protection of the Wheelhouse, Bridge and safe areas can be fitted to any superyacht. Additionally LRAD has previously only been available on larger ships, however now it can be integrated on superyachts. Propeller Entanglement Systems, Anti Drone and other systems are also available for build integration and in service reto fitting. Designing and building a superyacht? Our consultancy service is available for designers to integrate the systems into the overal design. For superyachts already in service we can retro fit them seemlessly. For more information on the systems available contact us here .

SafeRooms and Escape systems can make all the difference in a high risk situation. We can supply and fit both covert and overt systems. The covert or hidden SafeRooms provide the occupants with unrivalled ballistic protection and the ultimate defense, to ‘not be there’. Of course they are there, but they are hidden in plain sight. The SafeRooms can have a range of integrated features including Armoury, Medical Kits, Provsions, Communication Equipment and Escape Systems. The overt systems are for sections like the wheelhouse and bridge, to allow crew to continue their role in safety as long as possible during an incident. This can include ballistic protection and barricade systems as well as offense and defensive systems. For more information on the systems available contact us here .

Our Security Consultancy services are a great place to start. If a client is unsure on what options best fit their requirements, our consultancy service is the place to start. Ourhighly experienced team are available to assess the known and unknown client requirements. As part of the consultancy process, full documentation detailing our assessment and reccomendations will be provided. For more information or to book a consultation available contact us here .

There are an array of Security Technology systems available and our team can advise, supply and fit the entire systems offering our clients an all encompasing service. For more information on the systems available contact us here .

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We know that when our clients need something it can be time sensitive, so when a client signs up to one of our security services they have access to our team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the extreme scenario, this can be a response to a threat, intelligience reports or something else. But as a client whatever you need, is what we do.

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Superyacht Security: Is it necessary or desirable to arm crew?

Somali pirates currently hold 113 hostages, according to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. In the last few years, these aggressive pirates’ reach has grown from offshore Somalia to across the Arabian Sea and even into the southern Red Sea, with nearly daily attacks on commercial ships and several tragic situations involving private cruising boats.

On the other side of the world and crime spectrum, this past winter has seen a rash of yacht intrusions and burglaries at a popular Caribbean megayacht base.

Despite the risks that piracy presents, whether security personnel should be armed remains one of the most contentious issues of anti-piracy security. The International Marine Organisation responded to the increased use of armed private security on yachts by issuing circulars providing guidance to masters and owners on the hiring, use of such security forces, and the preparations and contingencies that must be made. Yet while most American yachts don’t think twice about using armed security, many European operators tend towards a non-armed approach.

Captain Ben Marshall, of Red Dragon, is unequivocal: ‘I would not go through the Gulf area without armed security… I’ve never had any problems in port, so long as the weapons are correctly registered and declared, no one bats an eyelid – they think you’re being sensible.’

So what’s a yacht owner to do? Should you carry a weapon on your yacht in case of an attack or intruder?

Researching the dangers

The answer starts with a risk assessment, says William Watson, the Washington DC-based vice president of government affairs for the Maritime Security Council and deputy commissioner of maritime affairs for the Marshall Islands Registry.

‘We advise that the decision of whether or not to carry arms aboard should be part of a larger overall risk analysis. For example, just as cruising entails preparation so should there be a planning process for security. Questions to consider include, “What is your itinerary?” and “What do you plan to do?” In other words, what is crime like in the area where you will be cruising and how much of a target do you represent?’

The US State Department website is a good place to start. It has travel information for every nation in the world, including country specific travel alerts and warnings about crime, as well as updates on other volatile situations such as wars and natural disasters. For yachts that represent a high-target risk, there are many yacht security consultants that specialize in providing intelligence and risk assessments.

Legal restrictions

The next consideration is port state restrictions. Some countries don’t allow entry with a weapon on board or require a certain protocol in handling weapons. For example, firearms must be declared on arrival to any port in Italy and non-declaration means imprisonment.

Yachtsmen visiting Fiji must also declare all weapons, then hand these weapons over to authorities for the duration of the port stay or risk a prison sentence; they then need to notify port officials of their time of departure so that the weapons can be returned one hour prior. Firearms also will be held by customs for the duration of a yacht’s stay in the Cayman Islands unless the vessel is fitted with a safe that can be sealed. Yachts entering Mexican waters require a permit to carry firearms and/or ammunition issued prior to arrival through a Mexican embassy or consulate.

The onus is on the captain and owner to understand the weapons restrictions for each country on their itinerary, as one captain of a 22m Viking found out the hard way when he accidentally ‘introduced weapons to Mexico’.

He did not have the requisite permit but he had dutifully declared the owner’s private stash of weapons – a pistol, a 12-gauge shotgun and a rifle – to customs authorities upon arrival. But in Mexico, customs do not have the authority to regulate firearms. The department that does, the Ministry of Defence, later searched the yacht, which led to the captain’s detainment in prison and the seizure of the yacht for four months.

Flag state laws

The flag state of the yacht also governs the use and possession of on-board weapons. For example, a UK-flagged yacht may be equipped with a shotgun. If other firearms are carried on board, they must be purchased outside the UK and the vessel cannot return to UK waters. If it does, the weapons will be seized by customs.

Due to these restrictions, Steve Black, founder of the Caribbean 1500 Cruising Rally and owner of a Pacer 42 that he cruises extensively in the Atlantic, says, ‘I always recommended that our ralliers not carry weapons. You have to declare them on entry and leave them with customs in many locations. This means you won’t have them aboard in your quiet anchorage and that you have to leave the country through the same port you entered in order for the weapons to be returned.

‘Even if you were allowed to keep a weapon on board, since you wouldn’t carry it into town, it is likely to be in the hands of the thieves when you return to your boat unarmed.

‘A weapon also causes false confidence. You would do better to choose your anchorages carefully and avoid troubled areas.’

Psychological effect of guns

Another point to consider is who is on board, both crew and guests. For example, is your crew properly trained?

Firearm training in cities near major seaports often can include exercises in firing in marine situations, such as on a rolling deck.

In addition, is your 25 year-old captain mentally prepared to shoot and kill someone? Are there children on board? Is the crew trained how to use these weapons in case of an emergency?

As for high-profile guests, Captain Jason Langford of the 58m Netanya 8 said during a recent security conference in St. Thomas that he doesn’t see the necessity of carrying a gun on board while in the Caribbean where the worst crimes were typically petty thefts of a dinghy or money. But he does hire a professional security team when he is in a high-risk area with guests who potentially may be a target.

Non-lethal options

There are other methods of protection for those who decide that they don’t want to carry a weapon, such as flare guns.

Watson says, ‘You’re not supposed to fire these at someone, but in a threatening situation they can be helpful. There are also laser rifles that can temporarily blind someone up to a quarter-mile away. These cost in the range of $20,000 to $30,000, but that might not be an issue on a mega-million-dollar yacht.

‘You can also get Taser [guns] although these require training to use safely and effectively.’

For those who do choose to carry a weapon, it’s imperative to keep the original sales receipt to prove ownership and a log detailing both the amount and use of ammunition as well as serial numbers of all firearms that are aboard and stored in the weapon’s locker.

While less-than-lethal weapons are an option, their practical use against veteran pirates is questionable.

‘Things like LRAD are pretty useless in my opinion,’ says Captain Marshall. ‘The pirates are already deafened by the 90hp Yanmar engines in their skiffs.’

Weapon selection

So what type of weapon is best? Watson recommends a pump-action 12-gauge shotgun that can be loaded with lethal ammunition (such as low-recoil buckshot or slugs) or less-than lethal ammunition (birdshot or rubber bullets). This is what one senior captain with more than 25 years of yachting experience says he carries aboard with the owner’s blessing.

The only problem, says Watson, ‘is that once you engage someone who’s shooting with real bullets you want to be able to return fire. There’s the old saying, “Never bring a knife to a gun fight.”’

Hiring security personnel

If you do decide to carry weapons, it is imperative to use the right professionals. Marshall works with Keith Simpson from the security firm Ironside Associates.

‘I’m ex-special forces, as are most of our personnel,’ says Simpson. ‘The armed approach is the only way to avoid being captured in my opinion; unarmed security guards are just more hostages waiting to be taken.

‘Some people don’t like the idea of carrying guns, but it’s not about shooting pirates, it’s about prevention, about stopping the situation from escalating.

‘Pirates harass and intimidate, but if they see armed personnel who are taking aggressive stances and wearing body armour they will withdraw.’

Simpson has run ‘pirate alley’ on numerous occasions.

‘There may be seven mother ships operating at one time, and the navies do not have the assets to cover them all.

‘I know yacht crew who’ve resigned rather than go through there without armed protection. They’re right in my opinion, you’d be mad not to take armed personnel. But you need to choose the right guys, with Special Forces experience.’

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Private Yacht Maritime Security

Private Maritime Security Company Provide Safety for Yachts in Pirate Infested Waters

By Tom Clarke

Piracy is a hot topic of concern these days not only for commercial vessels but for privately owned yachts.  Wealthy yacht owners are now at risk of being held hostage or worse, killed, by pirates boarding their vessels in unprotected waters looking for a lucrative ransom.  The average mega yacht is worth $1 million per square meter.  Considering that mega yachts usually carry large sums of cash and valuables on board and they cruise at low speeds, at anchor or they have become prime targets for pirates.

Private Yacht owners and crews are facing increased piracy threats around the world, including many popular ports in the Caribbean off the coast of Florida, the Mediterranean, Mexico, South Pacific, Singapore, Maldives, Africa, Gulf of Suez, Oman, Aden or the Arabic Sea. The current state is that the pirates now see the crew, cargo and vessel as a single commodity and demand a higher fee during the ransom negotiation.

In response to the escalating piracy threat to yacht owners, Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs) are popping up all over the globe, but not all qualified.  The basic levels of Private Yacht Maritime Security are:

Deterrent Level: An adequate level of armed maritime guards on the ship. Most common staff are ex-military or law enforcement. Be cautious when as you do your due diligence, these are not regulated sufficiently at this time.

Reactionary Force Level: The highest level of maritime security. Common staff is EX US Navy SEALs, after all this is what their background is best suited for. The reactionary force level most often will have a dedicated counter sniper; medics and one company is even using UAV-Drones as a standard equipment.

Learn more here about which level of security is best for your private yachting.

Most of them are staffed by former military and police members, typically Special Operations Force types, experienced in government and private security services protecting high profile individuals and their assets.  Some companies train private yacht owners and their crew in security measures and provide a well-outfitted, highly skilled security team that is attached unobtrusively to a crew to handle the worst case scenarios involving kidnapping and high jacking.

These PMSCs train yacht owners, their captains and crew in areas such as: shipboard emergency procedures, physical security plans, crisis management, conflict resolution, piracy attacks and countermeasures, personal self defense, reconnaissance services used to identity safe sea lanes and ports of call, threat assessments with itinerary reviews, medical training and crew vetting.  They can augment existing yacht security with highly trained armed guards and specialized equipment such as alarm systems and surveillance detection equipment.  Some yachts even have built in escape pods and panic rooms.

Financial Loss: The estimated annual loss due to piracy worldwide is about $13 to $16 billion. Unfortunately, most carriers decide not to report piracy incidents due to the financial burden. When an incident of piracy is reported, ship owners experience insurance rates that can increase by as much as 30% as well as the daily loss incurred during an investigation that can often run about $1000 a day. Source: http://www.criminaljusticeusa.com

Frequency. Piracy is a frequent activity happening much more often than what makes the news. Take a look at the Live Piracy Report and the Live Piracy Map at the ICC Commercial Crime Services and you will see that reported piracy incidents are currently occurring at about 20-30 per month. While not all incidents result in kidnapping or theft, many do. Source: http://www.criminaljusticeusa.com

Private yacht owners are also starting to equip their vessels with militaristic technology such as radar, infrared and thermal imaging cameras to detect approaching vessels and divers.  One such military defense system is a long-range acoustic device (LRAD) that can blast an alarm so deafeningly loud that when it is directed at attackers, it can force them to retreat.  Some LRAD devices allow a vessel to warn approaching vessels up to 3000 meters away with prerecorded messages in any target language.

Another lure for pirates to take over a private yacht is that they can use the vessel as a “mother ship”.  Once commandeered by pirates, that vessel becomes the command and control center for other piracy operations in the area.  Pirates will hold a yacht owner and its crew hostage until a ransom is paid; a month, six months, a year, or more.  These are life threatening situations that can be avoided by hiring PMSCs.

So with all this hype about private security teams and armed guards on privately owned yachts, is it actually legal?  Yes.  However, at present, no international guidance or standards exist for PMSCs providing such services.  The International Maritime Organization’s  (IMO’s) Intersessional Maritime Security and Piracy Working Group of the Maritime Safety Committee, met at IMO Headquarters in London back in September 2011 and approved Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) circulars for dissemination which provided interim guidance on the approved use of privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) on board ships to counter Somali-based piracy.

The MSC.1/Circ.1443 25 May 2012, INTERIM GUIDANCE TO PRIVATE MARITIME SECURITY COMPANIES PROVIDING PRIVATELY CONTRACTED ARMED SECURITY PERSONNEL ON BOARD SHIPS IN THE HIGH RISK AREA , promotes safe and lawful conduct at sea by providing guidance on how to improve governance regarding the capabilities of and use of PMSCs.  Basically, PMSCs need to acknowledge the legal responsibilities of their PCASPs and yacht owners need to make an informed judgment on who they select to hire as a PMSC.  Yacht owners will still need to adhere to a flag State’s laws and national requirements especially regarding transport, carriage and stowage of firearms, ammunition and security equipment attached to their PCASPs.

According to an article written in The Economist, Laws and Guns , April 14, 2012, “No ship carrying armed guards has so far been hijacked.”   As a result, governments are now trying to write laws and regulations for armed guards at sea to answer questions such as: how do PMSCs buy and store security weapons? What are the approved weapon types for PMSCs to carry? What are the standards of training for PMSCs?  What is the acceptable use of deadly force for PMSCs?

According to an article written in The Bahamas Weekly By Lindsay Thompson Sep 7, 2012. The Bahamas is ranked the fifth largest ship registry in the world. It also maintains the largest cruise ships registry. “The Government of The Bahamas through the Bahamas Maritime Authority has pledged its absolute support to counter-piracy efforts and has implemented several security and prevention measures,” The Bahamas is continuing to throw its support behind counter-piracy efforts and have implemented several measures to prevent such acts on the high seas.

Every yacht owner should be thinking very seriously about incorporating intelligence, security and technology into their itinerary planning and travel management.  Yacht owners and their Captains should avoid setting themselves up as bait in waters off the coast of Somalia, Nigeria, the southern Red sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, and most of the eastern side of the Indian Ocean.  And if they must transit these areas, they need to equip their private yacht with a PMSC. There have also been reported attacks in the Mediterranean, one off the coast of Naples.

It is obvious from recent events in the news that pirates are still testing the waters when it comes to mitigating the effectiveness and success of private yacht security measures.  Unfortunately, West African governments do not allow armed security guards aboard privately owned vessels.  As a result, pirates are encouraged to continue attacks on privately owned yachts with little to no risk.  With more PMSCs employed on board, pirates will increasingly be met by highly trained, professionally armed forces ready to repel any attack.

Private Yacht Maritime Security provided by ATAC follow the link to learn more: https://atacglobal.com/private-yacht-security/

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Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gets powerful ships to confront adversaries well beyond the Persian Gulf

  • Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is building a fleet capable of operations on the high seas.
  • Its new missile corvettes are the most heavily armed combatant ships in its fleet.
  • It also converted a container carrier into a mothership for drones and special forces.

Insider Today

In the last three years, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy has commissioned hundreds of new vessels. Most are newer variants of the missile, rocket, and heavy machine-gun-clad speedboats that have long formed the backbone of the IRGCN's fleet, but beginning in 2022, the IRGCN began commissioning new classes of warships capable of operating on the high seas.

The vessels, four newly designed missile-armed catamaran corvettes and a container ship converted into an expeditionary sea base, bring new capabilities to the hardline force known for carrying out dangerous missions like attaching mines to ship hulls and hijacking merchant ships, giving Iran options to keep adversaries with advanced navies and air forces like Saudi Arabia and the US off-balance.

The largest ships ever to be commissioned into its service, the vessels enable the IRGCN to operate major surface combatants with long-range anti-ship and anti-air weapons, and also helps the historically littoral force to pursue a new mission only recently given to it: to project power into the high seas via expeditionary operations.

With a fourth catamaran missile corvette on the way and another container ship being converted into a drone carrier , the IRGCN's future fleet is gaining the larger ships and firepower needed to confront its adversaries beyond the Persian Gulf.

Catamaran missile corvettes

Founded in 1985, the IRGCN is the naval branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a paramilitary organization that operates as the ideological steward of Iran's revolution separate from the national military and which answers directly to Tehran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Numbering around 25,000 personnel, in 2007, the IRGCN was tasked with the security of the Persian Gulf, while Iran's national navy was given responsibility for the waters of the inland Caspian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and beyond. Responsibility for the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth that dog-legs into the Persian Gulf, is shared between the two forces.

Since its inception, the IRGCN has employed an asymmetric doctrine that utilizes swarm and guerilla tactics with an emphasis on numbers, speed, mobility, and geographical advantages. They are known for provocative tactics that harass and threaten US Navy warships and civilian merchant vessels.

Operating in conjunction with Iran's land-based missiles and aircraft, the IRGCN can mount rapid sea assaults that exploit the islands and contours of Iran's coast. They rely extensively on hundreds of smaller vessels, namely fast attack craft (FAC) and fast inshore attack craft (FAIC) like those of the Tondar and Peykaap -classes which are armed with heavy machine guns, rockets, anti-ship missiles, and torpedoes to swarm enemy warships that may also be under attack from loitering munitions.

On September 5, 2022, the IRGCN diverged from its usual procurement practices when it commissioned the Shahid Soleimani , the lead ship of a new class of corvettes named after the leader of the IRGC's elite Quds Force who was killed in a US drone strike in 2020. At 213 feet long, 47 feet wide, and displacing an estimated 600 tons, it is one of the largest surface combatants the IRGCN has ever adopted.

The class utilizes a unique twin-hulled catamaran design. The design offers increased speed and stability at the expense of volume to carry more fuel or armaments. Though rare for frontline warships, some major navies do possess catamaran corvettes, including China, Russia, Taiwan, and Norway.

The IRGCN itself has been operating a single catamaran called the Shahid Nazeri since 2016. Despite being lightly armed, it has a record of harassing US vessels and civilian ships in the Persian Gulf.

But while Shahid Nazeri has few armaments, the Soleimani-class corvettes are the most heavily armed vessels in the IRGCN fleet, with an armament of 28 missiles, four 23mm Gatling guns (two in front of the bridge and two amidships), and one 30mm auto-cannon at the bow. Their formidable missile armaments are designed to threaten ships and aircraft.

Twenty-two of the missiles are stored in vertical launch systems (VLS), making the Soleimanis the first vessels in Iranian service with vertical launch capability. Believed to all house surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), they are arranged in two groups of eleven cells (eight small and three large) on the port and starboard sides just behind the bridge.

The six large cells are believed to house medium-range SAMs with a range of 92 miles each, while the sixteen small cells are believed to house short-range SAMs. Six box launchers amidships (three on each side) house anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs); likely four long-range ASCMs like the Ghadir or Noor, with ranges of 184 and 74 miles, respectively, and two short-range ASCMs like the Nasr, which has a range of 21 miles.

A helicopter deck is located just behind the box launchers and mast. Below it is a hangar reportedly large enough for three IRGCN FIACs; these fast inshore attack boats can be lowered into the water and picked up by an internal crane.

Made out of aluminum, Iranian officials have said that the ships have a range of 5,500 nautical miles. They have also said that the catamaran layout provides stability in rough seas and reduces the ships' radar cross-sections, making them harder to detect and track.

Three Soleimani-class corvettes, Shahid Soleimani, Shahid Hassan Bagheri, and Shahid Sayyad Shirazi, have been commissioned, while a fourth, Shahid Ra'is-Ali Delvari, is under construction. One month before the Hassan Bagheri and Sayyad Sirazi's commissioning last February, the IRGCN commissioned a new type of catamaran corvette, the Shahid Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis .

At 157 feet long, 39 feet wide, and displacing around 300 tons, it is smaller than the Shahid Soleimani-class and vastly different in appearance; it has no internal hangar capable of holding FAICs, no VLS cells, and the landing deck behind the bridge appears to be too small for helicopters, likely meaning it is intended for drones.

Its armament consists of 14 missiles; six ASCMs stored in box launchers at the stern and eight more ASCMs in two quad-tubed launchers on the port and starboard sides. It is also equipped with four 23mm Gatling guns and one 30mm auto-cannon.

Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, the commander of the IRGCN, described the Shahid Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as an "invisible boat" because of its catamaran design, and said it had a range of 2,300 miles.

Iran's IRGC published a video today of launching a ballistic missile from their forward base Shahid Mahdavi (converted container ship). pic.twitter.com/400Y8DYPlr — Mehdi H. (@mhmiranusa) February 13, 2024

Converted container ships

Though the newest, the catamaran corvettes are not the first sea-faring vessels the IRGCN has operated. The service has unofficially operated the cargo ships MV Saviz and the MV Behshad which, although officially registered as civilian vessels, are used as forward base and command ships to coordinate support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and to gather intelligence. The IRGC smuggles weapons to the Houthis and train them on their use.

In 2020, the IRGCN commissioned its first official sea-going vessel, the Shahid Roudaki . A converted roll-on/roll-off ship, the Shahid Roudaki is capable of carrying FAICs, drones, and military vehicles, and has space for a helicopter on its deck. It is armed with four ASCM box launchers and is believed to play an intelligence-gathering and support role.

Roudaki was briefly the largest ship in the IRGCN fleet until March 2023, when the Guard commissioned the Shahid Mahdavi , a converted container ship formerly known as Sarvin.

Related stories

At 787 feet long and 105 feet wide, Mahdavi's role is that of an expeditionary sea base and support/mothership. Equipped with a phased array radar and capable of carrying two helicopters, drones, loitering munitions like the Shahed-136, and FAICs, Mahdavi can also be used as a base from which IRGCN special forces can be inserted, and act as an intelligence-gathering vessel.

It is often compared to the US Navy's Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile bases, the lead ship of which has spent ample time in the Persian Gulf in view of Iranian forces.

Iran's navy has a similar vessel, the IRINS Makran, a forward base ship converted from an oil tanker. Commissioned in 2021, it has conducted multiple long-range voyages, including one that saw it circumnavigate the globe.

Mahdavi made international headlines in February when it launched two ballistic missiles from shipping containers placed on its deck as part of the Great Prophet 18 military exercise. Fired from the Gulf of Oman, the missiles were reported to have successfully hit mock targets in a desert in central Iran, demonstrating an at-sea launch capability for Iran's ballistic missiles.

The ship again made headlines in May when it sailed into the Southern Hemisphere, proving definitively that the IRGCN's reach now extends to the high seas .

Mahdavi will eventually be joined by another converted container ship, the Shahid Bagheri. Formerly known as the Perarin, the vessel has been undergoing conversion into a drone carrier for the IRGCN since 2021.

Measuring 787 feet long, the ship's width has been increased slightly with the addition of a cantilever deck on its port side. In 2023, a ski-jump ramp was fitted to the bow at an angle toward the starboard side in line with the cantilever deck, suggesting that wheeled drones will take off and land by avoiding the ship's towering superstructure that houses the bridge.

The makeup of Bagheri's future unmanned air wing remains a matter of speculation, and could include Shahed 171 and 191s (which are reverse-engineered Iranian copies of a captured American RQ-170 Sentinel), or Mohajer-6 and Shahed 129 drones, all of which can reportedly be used as reconnaissance and strike platforms.

The Bagheri's flight deck measures about 590 feet. The main recovery method for the drones will likely be an arrestor net or cable system of some type, though drones with short takeoff and landing ability may be able to conventionally land in calm seas.

Like the Mahdavi, Bagheri could also be used as a launch platform for loitering munitions like one-way attack drones. In addition, Rear Adm. Tangsiri has said that Bagheri will be able to store 30 FAICs below its deck.

An expanded mission

Altogether, the ships represent radical upgrades for the IRGCN — upgrades that the force has desperately wanted.

Though its asymmetric tactics and assets have successfully shot down an American drone, damaged and seized merchant ships, and taken American and British naval personnel prisoners, the last major combat engagement the IRGCN fought was a humiliating defeat for Iran, due in large part to hostile missile-equipped surface combatants and airpower.

Now sailing with large surface combatants armed with anti-air and anti-ship missiles, as well as new FIACs with better anti-ship and anti-air capabilities, the IRGCN poses a greater threat than it did in the 1980s.

"They know they are going on missions that require defense against aerial threats as well as surface threats, so they have to be prepared to defend against those threats by themselves," Farzin Nadimi, a senior defense fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told Insider.

But the IRGCN's new ships are not just intended for protecting the Persian Gulf — they are also for helping the IRGCN in its new mission: Projecting its power into the high seas.

Previously a mission reserved for Iran's national navy, this expansion of duty was ordered by Ayatollah Khamenei himself in 2020 . Though no direct reason has been given for the change, Iranian officials often talk about how the ships will better secure Iran's maritime interests.

"In general, they have portrayed their new mission as protecting the safety and security of Iran's vital maritime routes," Nadimi said.

But it's more likely that the IRGCN needs high-seas capability to better support the IRGC's goal of furthering Iran's strategic interests. Iran is a rival to Israel and Saudi Arabia and arms groups across the region like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and the Houthis in Yemen.

While Iran's navy is involved in anti-piracy missions and international voyages to show its flag, it is the IRGC that is responsible for supporting Iran's proxy groups abroad. The Guard is also the frontline force for Iran's efforts in Syria.

In the event that its allies need supplies, the new catamaran corvettes "would be able to escort Iranian ships, tankers, or cargo ships that carry important cargoes," Nadimi said. The Mahdavi and Bagheri, converted container ships themselves, could even carry the cargo and deliver it directly.

And while the MV Saviz and MV Behshad have likely been unofficially aiding the Houthis, the fact that they are not officially Iranian military vessels exposes them to the possibility of being attacked in gray zone operations, as happened to Saviz in 2021 , when a suspected Israeli limpet mine attack crippled it, causing it to be towed back to Iran.

The IRGCN's new ships, by contrast, are official vessels of the regime. "By law they are sovereign territory of Iran," Nadimi said. "They have the threat of serious escalation behind them if Israel directly attacks them."

The ships can also serve Iran's possible tactical goals as well. As a mobile sea-based ballistic missile launch platform with a long range, the Mahdavi poses a particularly potent threat. An IRGCN surface group made up of the Soleimanis, Madhavi, and Bagheri may even be able to pose a threat to US bombers based in Diego Garcia, an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

If tensions in the region continue to escalate into a direct conflict with Israel, these ships could pose a big enough threat that they could become high-priority targets for Israeli submarines operating in the Red and Arabian seas.

With Bagheri finishing construction and a fourth Soleimani-class catamaran being built, the IRGCN's fleet is only expected to get larger as it embraces its new high-seas mission.

"Our oceangoing warships can be present in every location across the world, and when we can fire missiles from them, there is accordingly no safe spot for anyone intending to create insecurity for us," Tangsiri said after the successful missile launches from Mahdavi.

Benjamin Brimelow is a freelance journalist covering international military and defense issues. He holds a master's degree in Global Affairs with a concentration in international security from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. His work has appeared in Business Insider and the Modern War Institute at West Point.

Watch: How the Iranian-backed Houthi militia compares to the US-led task force in the Red Sea

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COMMENTS

  1. 18 Anti-Piracy Weapons for Ships to Fight Pirates

    3. Water Cannon. Water cannon is another non-lethal weapon which is extensively used on merchant's vessels. As an anti-piracy method, the device delivers a powerful and impenetrable stream of water that blows away pirates trying to board the ship.

  2. 20 Anti-Piracy Weapons Deployed In Ships To Fight Pirates

    18) Anti-Piracy Fire Hoses. 19) Stun Grenade. 20) Dazzle Gun. Piracy and pirates plague the seas and threaten global trade and commerce. Cargo ships are particularly vulnerable to pirates as they are slow, travel in remote parts of the oceans, and are not armed adequately most of the time.

  3. Superyacht Security: The 10 Best Ways To Protect From Pirates ...

    10. Dazzle Gun. Dazzle gun is a type of laser weapon which uses green light to disorient and temporarily blind the pirates. The concentrated blast of green light can be used during both day and ...

  4. How Yacht Owners Are Protecting Themselves From Pirates

    Armoring a yacht can cost from $400,000 to $600,000, depending on the yacht's size and details. Protected areas include the roof, the door and upgraded glass rated to bulletproof VPAM Level 6 ...

  5. How to Protect Your Superyacht from the Real Pirates of the Caribbean

    Schueler says the LRAD ended up being one of their most effective (and most expensive, at about $20,000) methods of deterring the pirates before help came from the Royal Navy. In the same vein, an ...

  6. Armed and Dangerous: Carrying Weapons Against Maritime Piracy

    After a series of movie-plot events, the then-23-year-old Walcott ran the boat aground at Gun Cay, an island 10 miles south of Bimini. When Rapscallion started taking on water, the pirates launched the life raft and fled. Capt. Jason "Tiny" Walcott recounts the Rapscallion piracy incident in an upcoming book.

  7. 18 anti-piracy weapons for ships to fight pirates

    Mentioned herein is a list of non-lethal anti-piracy weapons that are used or can be used to fight piracy at high seas. By definition none of these devices have any application on a long range cruising yacht but they should make cruisers realise just why they are such soft targets. 1. Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD): Long range acoustic ...

  8. 7 things you need to know about piracy right now

    Sea piracy has dropped to a 21-year low. Piracy and armed robbery at sea has dropped to its lowest level since 1995, according to a recent report by the International Chamber of Commerce's International Maritime Bureau. The study found that there were 98 such incidents in the first half of 2016, compared with 134 during the same period last year.

  9. 18 Anti-Piracy Weapons for Ships to Fight Pirates

    1. Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) long range acoustic device is a non-lethal anti-piracy device which uses annoyance inducing sound beam to drive away the pirates. The sonic weapon produces high noise that is higher than the tolerance charge of an median human being. LRAD has been used on a few cargo and cruise ships until now .

  10. Infographics: Anti-Piracy Weapons Used on Ships

    Infographics: Anti-Piracy Weapons Used on Ships. By Raunek October 17, 2013 Infographics. Piracy is a burning issue in the maritime industry. The amount of money and resources spent to stop pirates are ever increasing. Along with political and diplomatic tactics, a variety of non-lethal (and lethal) methods are used to keep somali pirates at ...

  11. Here's How Yacht Owners Are Protecting Themselves From Pirates

    Armoring a yacht can cost from $400,000 to $600,000, depending on the yacht's size and details. Protected areas include the roof, the door and upgraded glass rated to bulletproof VPAM Level 6, able to withstand repeated rounds from an AK-47. The reinforcements can add up to 10,000 pounds to the boat's weight, so it makes more sense on an ...

  12. Anti-Piracy Security

    Even local fishing boat was attacked with the help of M16 riffles near Malaysia in September 2018. On the African East coast pirates also use automatic or semi-automatic weapons, sometimes even RPGs; but those are applied for the dramatic effect only. ... More intricate non- lethal weapons include, for instance, Anti-Piracy Curtain. This unique ...

  13. Preventing pirate attacks on superyachts

    The IMB PRC's The full 2012 figures record 278 incidents of piracy worldwide, with 71 occurring in Somalia's waters. Although the pirates have concentrated on commercial vessels, they have targeted superyachts in the past. In 2008 the 88m Le Ponant and the Carre d'As were both attack and seized by pirates, and their crews held hostage.

  14. How to prepare your yacht for pirate attacks

    20 January 2015 • Written by Kate Hubert. It's possible to prepare your yacht for pirate attacks by outfitting a great deal of equipment to protect its passengers and crew. Masters and owners may also hire private armed security forces to protect their yacht against piracy. However, if the crew aren't trained in how to respond to a pirate ...

  15. Maritime Manual :10 Anti-Piracy Weapons Deployed In Ships To Fight

    1) Anti-Piracy Laser Device. Here is the list of the most high-tech anti-piracy weapons deployed in ships to fight pirates. Anti-Piracy Laser Device is a device developed by a British firm called BAE systems. It is a laser that can be used during commercial shipping against piracy.

  16. 7 Ways To Protect Your Motor Yacht or Ship Against Pirate Attacks

    Listed below are ways to protect your yacht or catamaran against pirate attacks. 1. Citadel Armored Escape Room and Escape Pods. The concept of hidden citadel rooms is gaining popularity and being incorporated in both new and existing superyachts these days.

  17. Piracy Issues: To Carry Guns On Yachts, Or not?

    Piracy in the Red Sea ( one of the hotspots) is still a problem. It has been a peril, long before we sailed up the Red Sea in 1993. Yachtsmen remain an easy target for attacks as they are considered low risk to "pirates" and are now perceived to be able to attract high ransoms as hostages. Most attacks on pleasure craft, however, are ...

  18. Non-lethal weapon quickly immobilizes suspicious boats

    Marie Donlon | June 25, 2019. A U.K. security equipment company has developed a new family of non-lethal, boat-immobilization systems. BCB International Ltd. has developed the technology, inspired by police road stingers, which stop runaway or speeding vehicles. The boat-stopping technology is intended for tankers that are vulnerable to piracy ...

  19. SuperYacht Security

    We understand superyachts, their owners, family and crew have unique security challenges. From anti piracy measures and close personal protection to the latest in security technology, intelligence and crew training; Virtus enhance the safety and security of your superyacht and of the people on board. We put your needs and requirements first ...

  20. 6 facts about piracy that any yachtsman should know...

    Nevertheless, the old boundaries of piracy are still considered a voluntary reporting zone, and ships must take precautionary measures. Maritime security services have warned: the risk of piracy in Somali coastal waters has not completely disappeared. The military prefers to use language against piracy that is «repressed», but not «eradicated».

  21. Superyacht Security: Is it necessary or desirable to arm crew?

    Despite the risks that piracy presents, whether security personnel should be armed remains one of the most contentious issues of anti-piracy security. The International Marine Organisation responded to the increased use of armed private security on yachts by issuing circulars providing guidance to masters and owners on the hiring, use of such ...

  22. Private Yacht Maritime Security

    In response to the escalating piracy threat to yacht owners, Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs) are popping up all over the globe, but not all qualified. The basic levels of Private Yacht Maritime Security are: Deterrent Level: An adequate level of armed maritime guards on the ship. Most common staff are ex-military or law enforcement.

  23. Iran's IRGC Gets Powerful Ships for Operations Beyond the Persian Gulf

    Now sailing with large surface combatants armed with anti-air and anti-ship missiles, as well as new FIACs with better anti-ship and anti-air capabilities, the IRGCN poses a greater threat than it ...