Asian Piracy Surge Calls for GHOST Protocol

Ghost on Water(DGIwire) — While the bloody exploits of Somali and West African pirates spill the most ink in headlines and Hollywood scripts, Asian waters have now become the new piracy capital of the world. A recent report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) found that Asia is responsible for a whopping 75 percent of the world’s total hijackings, robberies and violent encounters. In 2014, there were a total of 183 reported encounters—more than three a week.

Those numbers are a massive 22 percent jump from last year, when the Asian trade routes were comparatively safe. Attacks are at their highest since data started being collected nearly a decade ago. The Asian market’s sharp incline is especially disconcerting because the total number of pirate attacks actually decreased globally in 2014, as it has for some years.

There is no hiding the fact the 22 percent increase is significant and worrying, according to a report in the Australia Business Journal. The reason for the spike? Pirates made furious use of the tanker routes that run from the Malacca Strait into the South China Sea. These behemoth ships, laden with goods and resources from China, do not maneuver as easily as smaller vessels, making them easy and lucrative targets. Many of these tankers freighted oil, a particularly appealing plunder. Gangs of armed thieves have attacked small tankers in the region for their cargoes, many looking specifically for marine diesel and gas oil to steal and then sell, according to SeaTrade Global, a maritime news platform.

Most of the hijackings occurred around the horn of Malaysia, close to Singapore, where piracy has been practiced since the 14th century. While the majority of the attacks were not violent, December 2014 showed an increase in bloodshed, when a Vietnamese crewmember of a tanker hauling asphalt was shot to death. However, experts warn that simply manning ships with armed guards will not decrease attacks. In fact, it might have the opposite effect, they say, ratcheting up levels of violence. Pirates will likely respond by arming themselves more heavily and will carry out raids with the knowledge that they may end up in firefights.

Juliet Marine Systems, a developer of innovative maritime technology based in Portsmouth, NH, has developed a solution that addresses these challenges. Its GHOST boat is a high-speed surface craft that looks like what Batman would helm if he traded in Gotham for the high seas. GHOST offers defense to vessels that don’t want their precious cargo to end up with a Jolly Roger black flag atop it. It is capable of entire fleet protection—more than equipped to handle threats posed by the small arms usually carried by pirates. GHOST’s high speed and difficult detectability, even at short range by radar, also make it an ideal vessel to protect large tankers navigating the Malacca Strait.

“We can protect these valuable ships when they are at their most vulnerable,” says Gregory E. Sancoff, President and CEO of Juliet Marine. “Pirates and other threats don’t stand a chance in the face of our GHOST.”