Anti-Piracy Weapons – Top 10 For Future Use In Somalia

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September 29, 2008

Click to read Part 1 of this Post: 10 Anti-Piracy Weapons For Use In Somalia – Part 1

Pirate Boat

In light of the recent piracy news from Somalia we thought it best to bring you up-to-date on the latest technology being considered for use in deterring pirates. Listed in order of likely effectiveness:

Note: You can view part 2 of this series HERE.

10. Fire Hose

Firehose training aboard ship

The most common means of deterring pirates is with the use of firehoses. A ships crew will line up on deck, activate the large firepumps in the engine room and use the pressurized sea water to knock pirates off of boarding ladders. While this is effective it’s of little use when the boarding craft approaches with it’s 50 caliber machine gun armed.


9. Automated Fire Monitor

Fireboat Water Canon / Monitor

The next step is a remote controlled fire monitor which can be aimed from a remote location. The only pitfall here is knowing where to place the monitors.

While Unifire’s Force 50 anti-pirate water cannon is impressive most shipboard fire monitors are manual and operate with less force (Video Demonstration).


8. Crowd Control Munition

The Modular Crowd Control Munition is similar in operation to a claymore mine, but it delivers nonlethal effects to the threat by delivering a strong, nonpenetrating blow to the body with multiple submunitions (600 rubber balls). This round has a wide range of capabilities for tactical, law enforcement, I/R, and US military detention operations. In crowd control, it provides a nonlethal counterpersonnel capability that can be used to break contact, enforce a buffer zone (standoff distance), or demonstrate a show of force. This round is designed to be fired at the center mass of adult threats at ranges of 5 to 15 meters. It has a shot arc covering between 60 to 80 degrees (laterally). (Source Global

This type of security can be mixed with stun grenades, cartridge rounds, rubber bullets, tasers and other non-lethal weapons. It’s fairly easy to use and relatively inexpensive but does require the mariner to be properly trained.


7. Non-Lethal Slippery Foam

The Mobility Denial System is an oil-slick-in-a-can, a combination of “Drilling Mud Additive, Flocculent and water” that renders surfaces as slippery as wet ice. Lots of tasty acronyms and buzzwords on the sell page, including “Anti-Traction Material (ATM)” and “Non-Lethal Slippery Foam.”

Once applied, the material will degrade or impair the adversary’s ability to move. For Interior applications it can be applied to flat, smooth, non-porous surfaces such as linoleum, tile, wood floors or staircases. Exterior applications include sloped, rough, porous surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, and grassy areas. (Source Boing Boing)


6. Less Lethal Launcher

The TBL-37, manufactured by Bates & Dittus LLC (, provides a less than lethal ordnance platform that can fire smoke, flares and low impact explosive charges to deter, delay and defend against potential boarders.  The launcher is 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.  It comes with a standard finish of matte black and in the right hands, it appears as a very threatening piece of hardware.

Best of all, it is not subject to licensing in the US and can be transported as ships stores and the price puts it at the low end of available options ($400-800 USD).


5. Dazzle Gun

The Dazzle Rifle

The weapon, developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate, employs a two-wavelength laser system and is a hand-held, single-operator system for troop and perimeter defense. The laser light used in the weapon temporarily impairs aggressors by illuminating or “dazzling” individuals, removing their ability to see the laser source.

The first two prototypes of the Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response, or PHaSR, were built here last month and delivered to the laboratory’s Human Effectiveness Directorate at Brooks City Base, Texas, and the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate at Quantico, Va. for testing. (Source: Strategy Page)

In addition to a gun mounted system, helicopters are now using a Dazzle Array. Could companies soon mount these on the sides of their ships.

4. Active Denial System

Active Denial System

Active Denial Technology is a breakthrough non-lethal technology that uses millimeter-wave electromagnetic energy to stop, deter and turn back an advancing adversary from relatively long range. It is expected to save countless lives by providing a way to stop individuals without causing injury, before a deadly confrontation develops.

The technology was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Department of Defense’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. Approximately $40 million has been spent on this technology over the past ten years. (Source:

This technology has been tested on reporters with positive effect but has yet to gain widespread use aboard ship.

Wired has more on the ADS system in a this recent article and attached Slideshow


3. Robot Anti-Pirate Boats

Anti-Robot Boat

The Protector, which comes mounted with a 7.62mm machine gun, wasn’t originally intended for anti-piracy operations. But according to BAE Systems spokesperson Stephanie Moncada, the robot could easily fill that role. “Down the line, it could potentially be modified for commercial use as well,” she says. Instead of being deployed by a warship to intercept and possibly fire on an incoming vessel, a non-lethal variant of the Protector could be used to simply investigate a potential threat.

A favorite tactic of modern-day pirates is to put out a distress call, then ambush any ships that respond. The unmanned Protector could be remote-operated from around 10 miles away, with enough on-board sensors, speakers and microphones to make contact with a vessel before it’s too late. “Even without the machine gun, it could alert the crew, give them some time to escape,” Moncada says. (Source: Popular Mechanics)

While this technology simply makes sense, there are more than a few steps required to launch the boat in the short amount of time between spotting the pirate’s mothership and being attacked.

2. Long Range Acoustic Device

Long Range Acoustic Device

Out of all the weapons mentioned above the only one to have sucessfully thwarted an organized attack by well armed pirates is the LRAD.

LRAD – is a long-range hailing and warning, directed acoustic device designed to communicate with authority and exceptionally high intelligibility in a 15-30 degree beam. LRAD can issue a verbal challenge with instructions in excess of 500 meters and has the capability of following up with a warning tone to influence behavior or determine intent…

LRAD installed on a US Navy vessel, augmenting two machine gun positions. LRAD can be used to alert and deter small boats from approaching the ship, transmitting loud audible warnings. When non lethal force should be used, the crew can use LRAD's loud high power directional audio to engage the target, saving lethal force by machine guns and guns as a last option.LRAD’s ability to positively communicate with authority on land or at sea is proving highly effective in creating safe situations out of uncertain ones. On November 7, 2005 LRAD was first used to foil a pirate attack on a Seabourn Cruise Line luxury cruise. The system was installed as a part of the ship’s defense systems, and was activated when pirates attacked the ship with RPGs 160 kilometers off the Somali coast . The pirates failed to board the cruiser. (Source: Defense Update)

1) Denial Of Ransom

There is little a Somali pirate can do with a large ocean-going ship and few items of value aboard which are easy to transport and sell ashore. The recent hijackings are instead the result of millions of dollars in ransom demands being met by shipowners and brings the number of attacks off Somalia to 61 this year. The pirates are now holding a total of 14 ships and more than 300 crew members according to Noel Choong who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center based in Malaysia. (You can view a chart of the piracy statistic HERE). Stop paying the pirates and many of them will likely find new careers ashore.

You can read gCaptain’s full piracy coverage HERE. Check it out!

Click to read Part 1 of this Post: 10 Anti-Piracy Weapons For Use In Somalia – Part 1

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