Closing the door on piracy

Piracy at sea is a growing menace the world over. VingCard is making life more difficult for the pirate, and could save ship operators a fortune.

Not so long ago, life was easy for the average sea pirate. All they needed was some old hand weapons and a fairly fast boat. Together with a few associates, they zoomed out and captured a passing commercial vessel, then sailed to the nearest holding point before delivering a multi-million dollar ransom to the boat's owners. With the value of the ransom often being less than the value of the ship and its cargo, the owner usually paid out.

Despite naval patrols in the area, pirates still manage to seize ships: seas are large, and navy ships can't cover everywhere at once. But the Gangway Control System from VingCard Marine can delay pirates' progress in entering a ship long enough for an emergency signal to be sent, and the crew to seek refuge in a special "safe room". Using the system from the bridge control panel, a ship's master can remotely lock all external doors on the vessel while the crew takes cover. It should buy enough time for the alert to be picked up by a military vessel.

Most acts of piracy that make the headlines today take place off the coast of Somalia. Yet piracy is also widespread along the entire African coastline and through South East Asia to the Far East. South and Central America are also prone to sea-borne pirate attacks.

Ninety percent of global trade is still moved by sea, so it is not surprising that piracy against cargo vessels remains a significant issue. And the cost of piracy is thought to run into tens of millions of dollars every year. The price of a Gangway Control System seems an almost insignificant price to pay for a lot more reassurance.