Business: Vacation
Pirate Ship Cruise   (+7)  [vote for, against]
Boarding other cruise ships for themed entertainment

Make an old fashioned pirate ship, with a minimal crew and some high spirited guests. Arrange to fake attack normal cruise ships, with blank-firing cannonry, board them, have a fake tussle with the crew, make some people walk the plank, then leave with a safe of booty.
-- marklar, Jan 03 2012

Pirates Pirates
Could be incorporated. [8th of 7, Jan 03 2012]

steals all of the buns.
-- RayfordSteele, Jan 03 2012

Cruise passengers could take turns to be the pirates.
-- 8th of 7, Jan 03 2012

Doing this near the coast of Somalia would run the risk of having your actions misinterpreted.
-- hippo, Jan 03 2012

How do you forcibly board a vessel with maybe a hundred feet more freeboard than your own? Do the Somali pirates have a way, or do they stand off and threaten the vessel with distance-weapons?

If the latter, then cannon'll be ineffective against a steel hull, and the cruise ship passengers can probably repel boarders by dropping beer cans onto them as they try to swarm up the sides with ... magnets? suction cups? Congreve-rocket- propelled grappling irons?

But the wily pirates will respond with Montgolfier baloons and trebuchet-launched parachutists.
-- mouseposture, Jan 03 2012

They make these things called ladders and knotted rope. Remarkable inventions.
-- RayfordSteele, Jan 04 2012

A fair point. My only information on the subject comes from McPhee who gave the impression that the technique works because modern freighters have such extremely small crews, for their size, that boarding via rope ladder, from a small boat, could take place largely unmolested. On a passenger ship, with the decks lined with defenders, (and the pirates limited to 18th century weapons) it would be more difficult.

But _Looking for a Ship_ was published in 1990, when piracy was taken less seriously than now. Shipping companies probably have a more aggressive policy, these days.

Still, a rough, tough pirate, climbing a rope ladder with a knife in his teeth, facing a 63 year old overweight tourist, with both hands free, 20 feet directly above him and armed with a shuffleboard stick -- is going to encounter some difficulty even one-on-one. And the overweight tourists outnumber the pirates.

So much more fun for the tourists, then.
-- mouseposture, Jan 04 2012

Insurance companies will not honor policies on pirated ships (and cargo) if the crew resists. That's why nobody has done the obvious and mounted a couple of 20mm autocannons on either side of the bridge. This is unfortunate, because it wouldn't take too long for word to get around the Somali pirate community that trying to hijack ships will only result in having your boat blasted into toothpicks.

[21] has it almost right; the majority of Somali pirates *are* displaced and out-of-work fisherman etc. (which does not in any way excuse their actions), but they are organized and led by the mercenaries and and ex-soldiers. It's just a really bad scene no matter how you look at it.
-- Alterother, Jan 04 2012

A great plan:-)
-- saedi, Jan 04 2012

The answer is so obvious. Q-ships, funded by interested governments, crewed by trained military personnel.

Worked very well in WW1.

Pirates attack Q-ship. Q-ship crew open fire, making sure there are NO survivors. Pirates therefore never know about Q-ship(s). Over time, number of pirates diminishes to zero. Problem solved.
-- 8th of 7, Jan 05 2012

Wonderful idea, I'm all for it, but even this landlubber knows that it violates more maritime laws than are even worth counting. On the other hand, if we were to stop all shipping traffic while international authorities bickered over the changes needed to make this possible, most of the pirates would starve to death.
-- Alterother, Jan 05 2012

International Maritime Law, aka Admiralty Law, aka The Law of The Sea, that's what maritime law. Most commonly falling under the jurisdiction of the IMO, the CMI, or both, although there are almost as many organizations overseeing the application and enforcement of said law as there are ocean-adjacent countries. It all boils down to everyone agreeing to behave themselves so nobody gets hurt, including sailors, passengers, and all the little fishes.

Furthermore, many countries view disguising a warship as otherwise to be an overt act of war*, and no ship can stay in international waters indefinitely.

Basically, having Q-ships roaming the seas in the modern world would make everybody nervous, and some of those nervous people have their fingers on or near the triggers of very, very big guns.

*IMO Annual Accords and Conventions of Admiralty Law, 1993 UK Edition, Section 4, etc. I have no idea how this book ended up on my shelf. Beyond citing it for this discussion, the only other thing I use it for is bludgeoning the occasional lost tourist that wanders into my yard.
-- Alterother, Jan 05 2012

According to the book, the IMO is not concerned with anything smaller than a .50-cal. Insurance companies, however, are. Since I don't happen to have the Lloyd's of London Maritime Policy Handbook right here, I am unable to elaborate further, but the question of why cargo ships don't carry small arms has been so over-discussed in the media that I, for one, consider it common knowledge. Merchant Marines and other commercial crews are not allowed to fight back, nor are they allowed to hire contractors or mercenaries. I think it's stupid, but that's the way it is. No assault rifles, no cutlasses, no M60s.

Anyway, an M134 would be a much better tool for the job.
-- Alterother, Jan 05 2012

//Over time, number of pirates diminishes to zero.// C'mon [8], you know better than that. It's a reaction kinetics problem: model it with differential equations. What is the rate of production of new pirates? How many Q ships are there? What's the mean time until a pirate encounters a Q ship (assuming Poisson statistics)?

The number of pirates might go to zero, as you said, or increase without limit, or reach an equilibrium. Could even oscillate or exhibit chaotic behavior, with the right assumptions.

Right, now that I've got that off my chest, y'all can ignore it & resume discussing guns & knives.
-- mouseposture, Jan 05 2012

I know it's gauche to quote myself, but:

// many countries view disguising a warship as otherwise to be an overt act of war //
-- Alterother, Jan 06 2012

There are three perfectly normal-looking cars parked on the street outside your house. You know all of the owners of the cars and are on speaking terms with them. One of the cars, however, has enough dynamite in its trunk to level the entire block. You know which car it is, and you have the owner's word that they have no intention of detonating the explosives whilst the car is parked outside your house, and everything is okay.

But every morning when you look out the window, there's that innocent-looking car, with all that dynamite in the trunk...

That's why nobody likes Q-ships, 'kay?
-- Alterother, Jan 06 2012

No, it wouldn't, because a gun rack is in the open where everyone can see it... get it?

Anyway, you're not a maritime nation, you're a closet redneck.
-- Alterother, Jan 06 2012

OK ... how about a completely unarmed merchant ship - but one equipped with sophisticated radar, night vision etc. - which is "tailed" closely by a nuclear hunter-killer sub ?

Bad guys show up. Ship's crew drop sonobuoy, or send sonar ping code ... sub breaks cover, Marines dash up ladders onto casing, brief but intense discharge from a couple of M134's belted with 1/5 T/B.

Then let the sharks do the rest.
-- 8th of 7, Jan 06 2012

I like it. It's tightly planned, outrageously violent, and totally deniable. Maybe we can even turn it into a joint operation/competition: RMC vs. USMC, SBS vs. SEALs, etc. Points will be awarded by highest average linear footage of boats destroyed per second on the surface.
-- Alterother, Jan 06 2012

Well ships just need their own unmanned aquatic vehicles armed to the teeth tailing them closely then.
The ship itself has no weapons and no warship has been disguised.

Everybody is happy but the bad guys.
-- 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 07 2012

// Oh yeah, because a nuclear hunter-killer sub won't raise *any* tempers at all, //

That's right. These things trundle the oceans of the world unmolested. In international waters they can go anywhere they like.

And outside international waters, they can still go anywhere they like ...

// but a lightly-armed merchant ship might set off a war. That makes sense. //

That seems to be the consensus, yes.

// You *do* realize that most pirate attacks occur in the Gulf of Aden, which has an average depth of only 500 meters? I'm reasonably certain a sub would be quickly detected there. //

It only needs to submerge to 20 metres or so to be pretty much undetectable to a surface vessel lacking sophisticated sonar until they're nearly on top of it. They're designed to be quiet, and difficult to spot. Plodding along in the wake of a noisy merchant ship, they're not going to be very obvious.
-- 8th of 7, Jan 07 2012

Ironically, legitimate warships, even the ones designed to operate totally undetected, are perfectly acceptable to all maritime nations, as established by a byzantine set of treaties and handshake details that are nearly impossible to understand. Essentially, it works like this: if you make no bones about the nature of a combat-ready vessel, it's okay, but if you try to disguise it, everyone gets all pissy about it. Even if you can't see or hear the attack sub, it's perfectly acceptable because it's an attack sub and everyone knows it's an attack sub. If you try to make a guided-missile cruiser look like a freighter, that's an unprovoked act of aggression.

Argue all you want, but them's the rules. I don't make 'em, I just read about 'em.
-- Alterother, Jan 07 2012

How hard would it be on a large ship to make the control room impervious to small arms? Or make all ships submergable in an emergency.

Anyway, isn't there a more relevant idea that be hijacked for this discussion?
-- marklar, Jan 08 2012

// How hard would it be on a large ship to make the control room impervious to small arms? //

It isn't; they're already doing it, or building 'safe rooms' with full comm suites, from which the ship can be conned in open water while the crew chats with the nearest lurking warship, leaving the pirates futily (sp?) banging on the door. There has been at least one instance in the last few months where the use of such a room led to the capture of all pirates present, crew, ship, and cargo emerging unscathed.

// The Hague Convention apparently says a militarized merchant vessel must be visibly marked as such, but the U.S. is not a signatory to that portion of it from what I can tell. //

I realize that the anonimity of the internet may cause some to distrust my word when I claim to be citing a hard copy, but if you'll care to notice, the book I referenced (which must have belonged to my grandfather, who had a use for such things) was a UK Edition, concerned primarily with UK laws. You may also have noted, in your perusal, that the CMI, predecessor to the OMI, was represented at the Hague Convention (in fact, they even sat at the Big Table, where all the powdered-wigged decision-makers sit.). The USA may not have been a signatory, but it is (semi-voluntarily) subject to all OMI A&Cs.

// Anyway, isn't there a more relevant idea that be hijacked for this discussion? //

Yes. It's gone too far, and I apologize for my role in it. Sometimes I can't stop myself from taunting people.
-- Alterother, Jan 08 2012

Another victim of poor impulse control. So sad.
-- 8th of 7, Jan 08 2012

I love this idea. It has nothing to do with real piracy.. Harr!

As for your discussion about Somali pirates - these are miserable but daring poor slobs in a place where all fish has all but gone who eke out a living at the expense of shipping companies that are too cheap to pay for an escort to provide security, which should be quite easy. If this piracy thing ever become a serious monetary loss, they will start to either carry weapons (which may pose problems at the ports) or just contract an escort boat.

And it makes total sense to me that the pirates would get in this business - protection.
-- jmvw, Jan 09 2012

//It is entirely their own fault that they are so poor. They keep themselves in poverty with their misguided interpretation of 'freedom'.//

I really shouldn't but...
fuck that and every horse it rode in on.

Try on another pair of shoes once in a while. See how you'd fit in them. Be born somewhere, other than where you were, and play it through in your head...
Then make that same statement.

There are gutter-rat kids raised in shitholes whose intelligence would kick the snot out of yours or mine and they don't get to make it to the age you now expound from.

Dummy up.
-- 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 09 2012

I also wish everyone was happy, but as 2 fries said - 'shoes'.
-- weedy, Jan 11 2012

random, halfbakery