If you’re looking to attack a pirate ship, forget cutlasses and cannon balls. Go full speed ahead with an MP3 sonic blast. At least that’s the latest method being used in sea warfare, as highlighted last week when a sonic blast was used to scare away Somali pirates from attacking a chemical tanker close to the Horn of Africa.
The weapon, which is non-lethal, is a long-range acoustic device (LRAD) connected to an MP3 player that emits targeted blasts of sound for more than a mile. A full-power beam is “excruciating” at 100 to 200 meters, and effective up to 1,000 meters. It causes permanent deafness within 50 meters. But most don’t want to come that close — in last week’s case, the Somali pirates slowed down at 600 meters and stopped at about 400 meters before waving their AK-47s in the air and turning away.
Behind the technology is British private firm Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions (APMSS), which uses three-man teams of ex-military personnel to ward off pirate ships that have long been a problem behind piracy woes and international trade. This week, APMSS will send out ten teams to man the Gulf of Aden, which, along with the Indian Ocean, has seen almost 100 pirate attacks this year alone.