Pirates may encounter a skunk- smelling water curtain or propeller-tangling ropes the next time they approach a U.S. merchant ship. A warning to turn away may be accompanied by an ear-splitting squeal, if not rounds from an AK-47.
Short of raising private armies, shipping companies will consider “anything to keep pirates off,” Deborah Hennen, a manager at Crowley Maritime Corp., said in an interview Nov. 1 after a demonstration in Baltimore of the latest anti-piracy equipment.
The event for shipping officials showcased technology that enhances or replaces armed security teams, which can cost $5,000 or more per day and are forbidden by some countries. It was organized by the U.S. Maritime Administration and the Ship Operations Cooperative Program, an industry group that includes maritime academies and shipping companies.
Piracy costs the international economy as much as $12 billion a year, and the maritime industry spends as much as $2.5 billion a year on deterrent and security equipment and services, according to a 2010 report by the One Earth Future Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Louisville, Colorado.
“Piracy is going to get worse before it gets better,” Glen Paine, president of the Ship Operations Cooperative Program, said in an interview after the demonstration. “It’s just the nature of shipping now.”
There hasn’t been a successful pirate attack on a U.S.-flag vessel since the April 2009 hijacking of A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S’s Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia, which ended with U.S. Navy snipers killing three pirates.
Still, the attempted attack that same month of the Liberty Sun, chartered by the World Food Program, brought piracy to the attention of U.S. shipping companies, Maritime Administrator David T. Matsuda said at the demonstration. Pilates Lessons Surreybillfold wallet