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Razor barbed wire found to deter pirates

Whoever said the best ideas were the simplest knew a thing or two.

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Solo circumnavigating sailor Joshua Slocum used tacks on the deck of his yacht Spray in the 19th century to deter marauding natives in the Beagle Channel in South America, and now Danish ships have discovered that simple coils of razor barbed wire are an effective deterrent against pirates.

Whether this innovation could be used on yachts, with their lower deck heights, is a question of interest, but the discovery sends a message to all vessels wanting to transit the dangerous Gulf of Aden - be innovative.

While the world's largest shipper A.P. Møller - Mærsk is currently investigating safety measures that can be introduced on its ships, including barbed wire, Politiken newspaper reports that another Danish shipper, Clipper Group, has already installed barbed wire on some of its ships to fend off attacks.

The wire was tested on the Clipper Group's Isle of Man-flagged CEC Accord last week and proved so effective that the shipping company is now introducing it to all ships in the fleet that sail through the gulf.

The coils of razor barbed wire helps prevent pirates from using simple ladders to board and hijack the ships. Their ladders tangle in the wire and do not sit squarely for easy egress and of course climbing to the top of a ladder to arrive in a tangled razor wire mess does not make boarding easy.

'It costs so little and there's simply no excuse not to," said Per Gullestrup, Clipper Group CEO.

The Danish Shipowners' Association supports the move saying it was important that shippers take some initiative to protect themselves.

In November 2008 CEC Future, another ship in the same fleet with 13 crew on board, was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden.

The route through the Gulf of Aden is an important shipping route, and there have been 240 attacks by pirates already this year, compared to 114 attacks during the same period last year.

The multinational naval Combined Task Force 150 is also patrolling the area to offer protection to ships passing through the gulf, and offers similar protection to yachts.

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