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Anti-piracy system launched

A new anti-piracy system has been launched, combining surveillance and recognition technology with defensive measures to prevent pirates from boarding ships.

The WatchStander system was originally developed for the US naval fleet but has been modified and adapted over the past two years for use by commercial vessels, cruise ships and yachts.

The automated and integrated system detects and identifies pirates before launching a series of non-lethal counter measures.

The system works by identifying pirate craft at long range and launching an automatic and unmanned defence at several miles range that becomes progressively more robust if the attacker fails to withdraw.

The company says that its tests have shown WatchStander to be accurate in identifying pirate craft and distinguishing them from other non-threatening vessels, and that it is currently undergoing an Audit and Performance Assessment by maritime security and operations consultants from Flag Victor.

David Rigsby, the founder of WatchStander, has worked with research partners at the Applied Research Laboratory of Pennsylvania State University to modify the product for commercial use, and holds an exclusive licence to take it to the global commercial shipping market.

“The answer to piracy has been eagerly awaited by the maritime industry. The strategies being used at present are piecemeal, uncoordinated, cumbersome or hugely expensive. The focus has generally been on either sensors or countermeasures with little or no effective integration of the two, until now,” said Mr Rigsby.

“This one-off technological installation prevents pirates getting on board ships and will change the course of maritime history. Any vessel fitted with WatchStander will be far more secure from pirate attack. Quite simply, WatchStander will save lives, cargo, vessels and very significant amounts of money.”

“When you consider that 95 per cent of goods and commodities are transported around the world by ship, it is imperative we end the scourge of maritime piracy once and for all.”

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