Tying pirates in knots

1 min read

Launching device is able to immobilise attackers

A ship-borne launching device that fires a rope-based barrier into the path of pirate vessels is being marketed at commercial ships at risk from such attacks.

The Buccaneer, from BCB International, uses compressed air to fire a plastic cylinder containing either a coiled rope or net up to a range of 400m.

The coiled line of net or rope, which has a parachute attached to the end, will unravel and lay out across the surface of the water. As a pirate boat travels through the water its propeller shaft will pick up the line and become entangled.

Jonathan Delf, marine sales manager of BCB International, said that an attacking boat quickly becomes immobilised.

With the trials and testing we’ve done, it has taken us some 45 minutes to cut and disentangle the line from the propeller itself,’ he said. ‘Within that time of course, the target ship is on its way and hopefully help has arrived in the form of naval forces or helicopter support.’

Delf said the Buccaneer can be fired up to five times off just a single cylinder of air, which can be a simple scuba tank pressurised up to 1,000lbs per square inch. It can also be operated remotely. The basis for the Buccaneer technology, he added, comes from another of BCB International’s products called the Wall Breaker.

This technology is currently being used by European and US military personnel as a non-explosive method of entry into buildings where potential terrorists and hostages may be hidden.

‘Essentially it uses compressed air to fire a barrel of water rather like the ones used in office water coolers,’ said Delf. ‘The plastic container shatters on contact and the kinetic force of the water breaks the wall.’

He added that the main challenge for the design team behind the Buccaneer was making sure the line would deploy far enough away from the vessel so that it doesn’t become a risk to the defending ship.

‘There was significant design work done to ensure the line spools out from the projectile in the first instance and that the parachute system works so the line is laid our across the water without having to be attached to the mothership itself,’ said Delf.

BCB recently sold the systems to several large shipping companies that travel near the oil-rich Nigerian Delta, which, like the Somalian coast, is rife with piracy.