No reader of this blog needs to be told that the risk from Piracy is real and growing. We have seen it change from something that only happens in movies to the cold reality of US Navy SEALs shooting three Pirates dead and millions of dollars in ransom paid out. If you are a ship owner you have seen your costs escalate steadily when traveling through high-risk areas. Though the numbers might vary, a doubling of cost over the past two years is not out of the question.
The response to this threat has been documented here on gCaptain repeatedly and, pending developments, the consensus concerning the appropriate response appears to be one that is restrained. Enter the “Less Lethal” suppliers. These companies provide munitions for crowd control as well as the weapons that project them.
A relatively recent entrant to this arena is Bates & Dittus LLC, a company based in Connecticut, USA. B&D manufactures a line of launchers that have found acceptance both with police and SWAT teams as well as companies that provide High Seas Security.
One of their clients, who only hire former SOF and experienced law enforcement officers, use such devices as part of a layered approach to high seas security.
The flexibility of these weapons is something that is attractive to users as well as the fact that they do not require licenses (at least in the US). As such they can be purchased over the counter and included in ships stores as simple flare launchers. The thinking is that firing “disruptive” rounds, such as flares, flash-bangs and smoke, can create a threatening environment that would deter the potential depredations of the pirates, and with no loss of life.
The TBL-37 Tactical Launcher (pictured above) manufactured by Bates & Dittus is not limited to just shipboard operations. Catalina Aircraft Trust, LLC plans on equipping their new turboprop amphibious patrol aircraft with multiple tactical launchers (2 launchers on board the aircraft and 1 launcher in the under wing mounted RHIB) to give the aircrew the flexibility of dispensing multiple types of tactical rounds to support various maritime missions from search & rescue to anti-piracy interdiction.
It seems that this approach, as exemplified by the products of Bates and Dittus LLC, represents a cost effective intermediate step between paying a ransom and opening fire with lethal weapons.
More information can be read at www.BatesAndDittus.com
Pictured above: The TBL-37 is a launcher chambered in 37mm and made to the highest standards of American workmanship. Constructed of 6061 aircraft grade aluminum and 4140 hardened steel, it is rugged while maintaining a reasonable weight. The standard finish is matte black.
There is a full barrel length Picatinny rail on the top and a short rail under the muzzle. These allow the owner to interchange accessories thus providing the ultimate in flexibility.” (from www.BatesandDittus.com)