Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Pirate Welcome Mat

No so much a mat in the literal sense...
  [vote for,

I remember mentioning this briefly once before, but I can't remember if it was as part of one of my own ideas or something I mentioned in an annotation somewhere... I think it deserves a post of its own.

This is an idea to keep maritime pirates from *successfully* boarding their targets, and is yet another demonstration of the versatility of detcord.

What this is is a set of lengths of detcord running around the top portion of a ship's hull, on the outside just below the level of the deck. The section of hull that the detcord rests on is reinforced with armor plating. There are several 'rungs' that completely encircle the ship, each rung spaced about 2 feet apart. The detcord is encased in a braided steel mesh to prevent members of a pirate boarding party from simply cutting it. Each length of detcord is approximately 10 feet long, and suspended between two vertical poles. Looks kinda like this:


If a pirate attempts to climb over the 'rungs' of detcord, pressure sensors attached at either end of the length being climbed over trigger that length of cord to detonate. This is going to blow up whatever is depressing that length of cord, ie hands, feet, climbing gaffer, etc.

In addition to providing limited protection from being cut, the steel mesh also creates some pretty nasty shrapnel, which will be assisted on its downward trajectory by gravity. The pressure sensors also work two ways. Even if a pirate does successfully cut the detcord, the sensor will react to the sudden decrease in tension and trigger it either way. Given the speed at which detcord ignites, it'll explode before it has a chance to fall and swing out of his way.

21 Quest, Aug 28 2011

Electrified ship's railings http://beamsandstru...e-for-the-high-seas
[AusCan531, Aug 29 2011]

Pirate skull decorations for Remulac Industries ships http://www.youtube....watch?v=CfhMj6NJ5YY
"Wanna come on board? There's plenty of room for more pirates on this ship." [doctorremulac3, Aug 29 2011]


       So what do you do about the second pirate ?

       (also more properly in ': landmine' than ': bomb')
FlyingToaster, Aug 28 2011

       That's why there are multiple rungs. The idea is to make it impossible to climb on deck without setting off a rung of detcord. I'm thinking it's unlikely for a single pirate to set off more than one or two rungs, and pirates usually operate in small units.
21 Quest, Aug 28 2011

       For various reasons I don't usually sign in on this stuff, but I like that accidental triggering won't hurt the crew.
FlyingToaster, Aug 28 2011

       (Also not exactly a landmine either, given its maritime application. Is there a naval mine category?)
21 Quest, Aug 28 2011

       I was under the impression that some of the merchant ships in the area were already electrifying their railings which isn't too far off what you're suggesting.

       "The industry-approved, Best Practices Manual, for dealing with pirates recommends using barbed wire on ship railings, electrified barriers, high-slip paint for side walls side walls, and maneuvering tactics that increase a boarding pirate’s exposure to wind, waves and stern wash." See link
AusCan531, Aug 29 2011

       Isn't this simply a maritime implementation of the standard tank anti-personell defenses?
MechE, Aug 29 2011

       I'd decorate my ships with the skulls of previous pirates who tried to attack them. They'd be lit up and strung as shown in the link.

       Remulac Shipping lines would not be your first choice when looking for a freighter to knock off.

       [+] for anything that blows up pirates.
doctorremulac3, Aug 29 2011

       Arm the fish catapult and aim for the welcome mat! Fire! [-] (BAM!)
swimswim, Aug 29 2011

       [+] detcord
8th of 7, Aug 29 2011

       In a similar fashion you could simply have the handrails be much less sturdy than they appear.
FlyingToaster, Aug 29 2011

       I thought about those measures, FT and Aus. The problem that arises is the danger it poses to the ship's passengers.

       Swimswim, you really think they have room in a hollowed out log (from which many of the pirate speedboats are made) for a catapult that's large enough to reach the upper deck of a large cargo freighter or cruise liner?

       MechE, if it is, I was not aware of that, but if it is then that just lends further credence to the idea.
21 Quest, Aug 29 2011

       They tow it behind their hollowed-out-log-speedboats. Have you not seen the post of my Pontoonapult idea?
swimswim, Aug 29 2011

       Hm, it turns out that tank mounted anti-personell mines may be one of those things that although extremely common in tank based science fiction, doesn't exist in the real world.

       In any case, claymore type mines have the advantage of not damaging your hull and taking out a larger swath of the attackers at the same time.
MechE, Aug 29 2011

       That's not entirely accurate... Claymores do have a blowback and a minimum safe rear distance.
21 Quest, Aug 29 2011

       Isn't this what hull-mounted flechette grenades are for? Horrible things, I know, but, if you're going to do this sort of thing, you may as well do it properly.
pertinax, Aug 30 2011

       Claymores have a blowback because all they have backing them up is a steel plate and a couple of light stakes in the ground. If they have a ship's hull backing them up, I don't think that would be a problem. Detcord, on the other hand, is designed, at least in part, to cut through whatever it's placed against (such as the hull).
MechE, Aug 30 2011

       No, it isn't. That's just a side effect of the design. It's designed to conduct a supersonic detonation front from one point to another. The ability to cut was not part of the original spec.

       A pad mine suitable for the use described would be possible, but auto-triggering is a dangerous feature outside a live combat situation.

       It really doesn't take much to protect a big ship; nothing more than a couple of guys on watch with binoculars/night vision kit, and a couple of .50cal Brownings on the bridge wings. Much cheaper than paying multi-million dollar ransoms.

       Best of all, the number of pirates will steadily decrease over time, providing the guys on the MGs wait until they're close before opening up, then give them the whole nine yards. It would be best not to publicise this policy, as this may have a deterrent effect on the pirates, reducing the effective cull rate.

       Ships in international waters have the absolute right to protect themselves against piracy by the use of lethal force. UNCLOS is quite clear on that.
8th of 7, Aug 30 2011

       Okay, for designed to, read as functions to.

       The problem is the transition from international waters, where carrying those guns is legal, to national waters, were it may or may not be, to national ports, where it is often frowned upon.

       Which just gave me the idea for offshore weapons check boats. "Let's see, that was two 50 Cals and a set of five RPGS. Here's your claim check and we'll see you in a couple of days on your way back out to pick these up.
MechE, Aug 30 2011

       I hope the weapons check boat is similarly protected. It would be awfully embarrassing if it were to be successfully hijacked.
21 Quest, Aug 30 2011

       The captain is responsible for the ship, and the safety of the crew. When the ship enters territorial waters, it is the captain's responsibility to ensure that all ordnance is secured. Providing the ship's flag nation approves its ships carrying weapons (as the USA does) then nothing more is required. A ship is in some ways like an embassy; a little mobile bit of the sovereign nation who's flag it bears. Interference with that could touch off a diplomatic row, which helps no-one except the pirates.

       No particular technological innovations are needed to deal with piracy. The weapons, techniques and legal framework are already in existance.
8th of 7, Aug 30 2011

       You are correct about the status of a ship transitting territorial waters (although not all parties agree to that reading), but a ship which intends to transfer cargo it is subject to search by the nation who's port it is using, and that nation's laws regarding the transportation of contraband can come into play with regards to private ownership of heavy weapons.
MechE, Aug 30 2011

       Of course, a host inspection ship could board the incoming vessel and log every weapon found. When the visitors leave, they had better be able to account for every weapon logged during port entry. If any weapons are missing or unaccounted for, the entire ship and crew are held until they are found.
21 Quest, Aug 30 2011

       // heavy weapons //

       i.e. "anything bigger than a megatonne yield"

       [MechE], it's a legal grey area. If the ship is operating legitimately, does not intend or attempt to unload its weaponry, and has the necessary paperwork from its flag nation, then it would be a very brave port or customs official who tried to interfere.
8th of 7, Aug 30 2011

       I would think a weapons search would need to be accompanied by some sort of international version of a warrant, or an across- the-board policy stating ALL incoming ships must be subject to search and seizure of defensive weapons.
21 Quest, Aug 30 2011

       The across the board policy is that all ships MAY (not will) be subject to search and seizure of contraband. It's part of every single country's customs enforcement.

       Classing personal/defensive weapons as contraband would be unusual, but say a North Korean flagged ship had a long range cruise missile on board with paper work claiming it as a defensive weapon. I have very little doubt that a US customs inspector would declare it contraband and seize it (and the ship). There are limits to what is considered an acceptable weapon, and some countries don't allow much of anything.
MechE, Aug 30 2011

       Det cord, even in the quantities necessary to circle a cargo ship a few times, wouldn't cause much of a stir... I imagine it would have to be removed and stored before docking.

       At this time might I point out that you've just reinvented the Bangalore Torpedo.
FlyingToaster, Aug 30 2011

       The detcord doesn't need to be declared at all... the steel mesh it's wrapped in would make it look like simple utility cable. Just remove it and wrap it around some spools on the deck before you get boarded, and reinstall it on your way out. No need for anybody but the ship's crew to know its purpose, and there's certainly no need for the media to find out and alert pirates to its existence.

       And this is nothing like the Bangalore Torpedo, which was used for *clearing* obstacles such as the Welcome Mat. And even if pirates were smart enough to use a Bangalore Torpedo, the sound of the explosions would alert the crew, giving them time to form a welcome party for the pirates.
21 Quest, Aug 30 2011

       Can't stop reading this as Private Welcome Mat.

       Y'know, facial recagnition software determines whether it reads;
-Welcome Phil-, or
-Go piss up a rope-

       That would be awesome...
21 Quest, Aug 31 2011


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