Pleasure Cruise or Pirate Ship? Keeping International Waters Safe

Yatch in Dubai creek, united arab emirates

(DGIwire) — When boarding a cruise ship for a relaxing and luxurious vacation, the last thing you want to think about is having to protect yourself from pirates at sea. But according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, this is exactly what one Nevada woman had to endure when stepping aboard the Amsterdam, a ship within the Holland America fleet of ocean liners.

Even before she left, the itinerary had been changed so that the ship would not be stopping at three ports in Egypt because of security concerns, recalled Jane Ann Morrison in the Journal. Despite her confidence in the cruise line, it was a little shocking for her to board the Amsterdam in Dubai and see the barbed wire on the third deck, the first open deck pirates could possibly board. Then there were the water hoses, pointed down toward the water line. Also noticeable were the security guards with binoculars on guard 24 hours a day.

While it may have been uncomfortable to witness these security measures since it brings to light the piracy problem, it’s a necessary step that the Amsterdam—as well as every cruise liner venturing into international waters—needs to take. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which has been monitoring world piracy since 1991, pirates took 140 seafarers hostage in the first quarter of 2015—of whom 13 were assaulted and three injured.

In 2014, the number of pirate attacks dropped to its lowest level in eight years, but between January and March of 2015 worldwide piracy rose 10 percent compared to the same period in 2014, reports the IMB. As of May 5, 2015, there were a total of 74 reported incidents. Southeast Asia is a particular hotbed for piracy, with frequent attacks on small coastal tankers; on average, one coastal tanker is hijacked in southeast Asia every two weeks.

“Keeping waters safe for all maritime traffic, including cruise ships, is a huge concern,” says Gregory E. Sancoff, president and CEO of Juliet Marine Systems, a developer of innovative maritime technology based in Portsmouth, NH. “A cruise in international waters should be a carefree vacation, not a time when you need to be on high alert for terrorists.”

Sancoff should know: Juliet Marine has developed a solution that addresses these challenges. Its GHOST boat is a high-speed surface craft that 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.

“We want everyone traveling by ship to feel safe and secure,” adds Sancoff. “GHOST offers an exciting new way to enhance maritime security.”