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Pirate repelling gas

Too stinky, even for pirates.
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(+6, -4)
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I have been pondering the Somalian pirates. These guys use small boats that are low to the water. Their targets are very large ships and the crew is high off the water. To effectively commandeer a vessel the pirates must board it, since their light weaponry is suitable only for killing people, not disabling ships. The ships these pirates target are armed lightly or not at all. The news has carried stories of such ships using somewhat bizarre repulsive "weaponry" - loudspeakers, powerful hoses, even barbed wire to prevent boarding.

I propose that gas weapons might be useful against pirates. Pirates like calm seas, and calm weather is ideal for gas weapons. The gas could be carried in barrels around the ship. On deploying the barrel would hang off the ship at the waterline. The gas would be heavier than air and so would collect on the water. Several of these would surround the ocean liner with a cloud of gas extending out from the ship that the pirates would have the traverse to get aboard. Gas barrels at the bow would ensure that the travelling ship stayed in a gas shield so the pirates could not just wait it out or wait for the ship to move away from the gas. This would be better than barbed wire in that pirates who ascent the ship up the the wire might be able to shoot at people on board, and better than hoses because hoses must be manned to be effective. The gas repellant could be anything but tear gas or even cheap industrial chlorine would work.

Different gas weapons might also be useful for the pirate hostage situation now taking place. The hostage is being held in a life boat. Navy divers armed with the Russian weaponized fentanyl gas (link) could sneak below the boat and release the gas, which would bubble up unobtrusively around the boat. Then nighty night pirates. The divers would be notified by radio when this had happened and then would ascend with the antidote for the hostage and, once handcuffed, the pirates.

bungston, Apr 09 2009

Russian use of weaponized fentanyl against Chechen terrorists. http://www.ccc.nps....si/may03/russia.asp
This would not be good stuff to hang off your boat. Use to rescue hostages, yes. [bungston, Apr 09 2009]

The Pirate King of Somalia The_20Pirate_20King_20of_20Somalia
now this guy would be fashionable. [bungston, Apr 10 2009]

//Personally, I think trained baboons would make an excellent pirate deterrent// - [21 Quest] Chimp_20Boat
You are so right! [Amos Kito, Apr 10 2009]


       I was thinking along the same lines but with Johnny Depp manning the gas barrel.
blissmiss, Apr 09 2009

       I know that its a terrible situation but i am eager to see how the pirates are dressed.
vfrackis, Apr 09 2009

       [vfrackis] Not very fashionably I fear. Just plain black hoodies with their faces covered with nets. Nothing like the good ole days. Shucks! No swords either to my knowledge.
blissmiss, Apr 10 2009

       [21] - do the painters respirators cover your eyes? If so, why are such things not standard gear for Korean rioters? Tear gas is practically a condiment over there.
bungston, Apr 10 2009

       It's called chemical-warfare [-] for obfuscation.
FlyingToaster, Apr 10 2009

       // This is actually a very idea //   



       I don't see why this is better than the hoses mentioned, or I don't know, guns.   

       If you see the pirates coming to release gas, then you can just as easily man these devices that are cheaper and stronger.
Smurfsahoy, Apr 10 2009

       So the pirates wear masks, and it's hard for them to aim... so what? That's only a problem for them if somebody is shooting back at them. **Which brings us back to a manned defense with hoses/guns.**   

       At the end of the day, being huddled in the hold is never going to work. Unless it's an airtight hold and everything outside is full of flying blades and sarin gas and explosions, the pirates are simply going to learn from one encounter, come prepared, and get to you just as quickly as before.   

       History CONSTANTLY proves to us that passive defense is a near-oxymoron against anything other than crimes of opportunity. Yes, it sucks that somebody has to expose themselves to small arms fire, but that's just what it takes. A high riding ship is like a cliffside, and how do people use cliffs defensively? Guns.   

       Plus, this idea in particular is extremely susceptible to minor weather (sorry, but pirates don't stay at home just because there's, say, a 20 knot wind, which would dissipate any gas immediately, and in most bays, straits, etc. would still qualify as "calm seas." They use power boats and modern climbing equipment...), it's expensive (though not as much as trained baboons, I will grant), and it's probably illegal in almost every country.
Smurfsahoy, Apr 11 2009

       Given the scenario, the gas of choice should be CO2. It is heavier than air, effective against both man and machine, pretty safe to handle and sounds fairly innocent. CO2 can be stored as a pressurized liquid or refrigerated as a solid, and spreading it into a warm ocean would convert it to gas right quick. It'd take a boatload of it, but a ship could carry a lot. (A ship could even scrub the CO2 from its own exhaust, store it for later sequestration, and "accidentally" release it on the pirates.)   

       The pirates in between Singapore and Indonesia are very low-tech, as was said. They even use an old-style wooden dug-out motorboat, because it cuts through the rough water behind a ship better than a lighter modern motorboat.   

       Seriously, the ships need to start using lookouts, radar, searchlights, and heavy sniper rifles. They could set that up for a lot less than the cost of ransom. Heck, less annual cost than the interest on money kept for paying possible ransoms.
baconbrain, Apr 11 2009

       Given the recent news, I think the opposite of this idea must be American Flagged Merchant Ships, which appear to be equipped with Pirate Attracting Magnets.   

       What is clearly needed is a new tactic, where a large number of Zombie Ships, all flying US flags are sailed into the region en masse. The regular crews of these vessels would remain hidden, but the wailing, drooling, half-starved zombies would call to the would be pirates like spooky sea sirens. (all achieved with robotics of course.... or is it?)
xenzag, Apr 11 2009

       I thought this was a way to steal like ions in the gaseous.
daseva, Apr 11 2009

       I was thinking about radar at the waterline to detect incoming small ships. I wonder if wooden boats have any radar profile? I would think this sort of thing would have been of interest to the US Navy after the USS Cole bombing by a small boat alongside.   

       I think that there is barely any crew on these big freighters. Plus as regards arming them, I am not sure how much fight these crews have in them. Robots, robots, robots. And maybe barbed wire.   

       CO2: I think it is not noxious enough. You never read about CO2 being used for crowd control.   

       I very much like the idea of pirates taking over a ship, finding the hold full of Russian tanks, then cutting holes in the sides of the ship to use the tanks to fire on purusing Navy vessels.
bungston, Apr 13 2009

       CO2 may not be noxious, but it will kill. A big cloud belched out of a volcanic lake, Nyos in Cameroon, a few years back, and killed a bunch of people as it rolled downhill. I'm thinking that it will also stop the engines in the pirate's boat.   

       CO2 is heavier than air, and probably will be cold when released, so it should hug the water fairly well. And if it makes fog, so much the better.   

       Plus, it isn't noxious. If a ship releases Sarin gas, it is obviously to kill people, and somebody is going to bitch about liability and cruelty. If a ship vents CO2, either "accidentally" or to make a concealing fog around the ship, and some pirates happen to die, the intent is not so damning, or is even deniable.
baconbrain, Apr 13 2009

       Some governments have experimented with laxative gas for crowd control. This could make more work for people who have to swab the decks, however ...
Aristotle, Apr 14 2009

       I've got a feeling that I read somewhere (probably a Frederick Forsyth novel or similarly authorative text) that tankers pump exhaust carbon monoxide into the the tops of the tanks to prevent build up of explosive gases. Perhaps some of this could be vented off.
coprocephalous, Apr 14 2009

       //I'm thinking that [CO2] will also stop the engines in the pirate's boat. // If there was that much of it, wouldn't it also kill the engines in YOUR boat?   

       Amounts needed: A sizeable pirate-worthy merchant marine ship these days is let' say 20,000 DWT. You'd need to make a cloak of gas maybe 3 times that volume to envelop, at 15% concentration for CO2 lethality. That's 1/800 (denity of air vs. water) * 1/7 (only need 15%) * 20,000 = 3.6 tons of CO2.   

       Probably need to replace that at least every minute or so, with the ship moving forward, plus wind. Running away from pirates for half an hour before help arrives = over 100 tons of CO2.   

       That's about 1/3 as much CO2 as a large coal power plant would put out in the same amount of time... *ahem* For an oil tanker, that could rise to as much as **6 times** the output rate of a large coal power plant.   

       I repeat: Guns.
Smurfsahoy, Apr 14 2009


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