Rope and golf ball launcher developed to defeat pirates

The Engineer reports that a net and rope launcher, which can also fire golf balls, is being developed to prevent pirate attacks. The Engineer reports

The Buccaneer, from BCB International, uses compressed air to fire a plastic cylinder containing either a coiled rope or net up to a range of 400m.

The coiled line of net or rope, which has a parachute attached to the end, will unravel and lay out across the surface of the water. As a pirate boat travels through the water its propeller shaft will pick up the line and become entangled.

Another poor solution to a problem that was solved hundreds of years ago.

Hat Tip: Slashdot

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • primo capo

    rope and soap, and rather high forks.
    the right solution.

  • teke175

    At my Sons TaeKwonDo class they show discovery on the tv in the parents area a good bit of the time. They had the whale wars show (Just to clear things up these guys are morrons) and they were trying to use a line in a similar method. It wasn’t working so well.

    I grew up on the water in Louisiana. Its always the unintended stuff like a crab trap or your own ski rope that gets sucked into the propeller.

  • Nas

    Hmm, would it count as being armed if you only had devices for shooting golf balls? I could imagine the effect of a golf ball at a sufficiently high velocity, say 2000 fps, could be quite devastating to the pirates. Where exactly do they draw the line that defines a ship as being “armed”?

  • Freiheit

    “I grew up on the water in Louisiana. Its always the unintended stuff like a crab trap or your own ski rope that gets sucked into the propeller.”

    So the solution to piracy is to let them ‘steal’ a crate of waterskis and fishing tackle and the problem will sort itself out.

  • Don

    Browning quad 50.

  • MG

    Too bad the pirates don’t value “less-than-lethal” methods as much as the shippers do.

  • Keith

    Why on earth can’t these guys just train riflemen?

    Contract out to blackwater or something for firearms use on watercraft and just blow the pirates away?

    If visibility is a problem then just buy some relatively cheaper rband infrared detectors to see “Oh lookie, they’res a heat source over there.” and then look to see if they are pirates or not.

    I mean, am I severely simplifying the issue? Am I totally wrong?

    This just does not strike me as terribly complicated.

  • Carl

    Seems like a waste of money.

    I’m guessing the chances are pirates will try to board a ship silently at night rather than make a full frontal assault in broad daylight. So the first thing you’ll notice is probably some unfamiliar dudes with AK’s roaming the ship.

    So carry a handgun, and have rifles available.

  • Matt Groom

    Why not simply spray oil on the water surrounding the ship and set it on fire? It would be a brave pirate indeed that would want to sail through that inferno.

  • KB

    To be honest I’m more excited about the golf balls.

  • CMathewa

    Next it will be a catapult that launches spiders. I agree, arm the sea going ships. Get rid of whatever convention it is that keeps the seas un armed

  • MG

    You are not complicating the issue at all. The consensus among shippers is that if they arm their ships it will result in more loss of life. They would rather pay the ransom. Of course they don’t take into account that paying ransoms on a regular basis generally invites more aggression.

    There are many cases of pirates successfully obtaining ransoms and getting away. I think there was even a case where a European government was accused of paying a ransom but never divulged the details (Spain I think, my apologies if I am wrong).

    I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature on the part of the shippers.

    • MG, there is a difference between the shipping companies and the sailors. The sailors, I am sure, are very anxious not to be captured and held at ransom. The shipping companies are insured and that will cover the ranson – they don’t mind if their sailors are held in awful conditions for months on end and physical abused by pirates.

  • Matt Groom

    I’m reminded of the Barbary Pirates, and having just read C.S. Forester’s classic by the same name, I can tell you that Pirates, especially in that part of the world, tend to run this game for centuries until massive military armadas sail into the region and seize control. That’s one of the reasons the French invaded Algiers.

    When America was still very young, and very broke after the Revolution, a crew of American sailors was taken hostage and subjected to imprisonment, torture, and forced labor for 11 years. Despite negotiations for a reasonable ransom, pressure from the international community against the Pirates and the Barbary States, the sailors were not released until the US threatened military action. We eventually assembled and sent a modern, well-regulated naval force to the region and began asserting our might through two wars that the Pirates stopped targeting American vessels.

  • Matt Groom

    Oh, yeah. One more thing:

    “The consensus among shippers is that if they arm their ships it will result in more loss of life.”

    That’s the idea. You make seizing a ship by force a potentially lethal act, and suddenly it’s something people aren’t interested in doing. If it were my ships, they’d have the materials to make flame throwers and Molotov cocktails at the very least. I’d burn the skinny bastards alive on their rickety boats before I’d let them set one foot on my ship! And I’d leave the ones who jumped overboard to extinguish themselves to drown. My crew is my family, and NOBODY messes with my family!

    Firearms keep things civil. In the absence of firearms, it gets brutal fast. We’re talkin’ melee weapons and flame weapons, which have been used since the dawn of time. Chemical, Biological, and new-age Electronic weapons are too new, too unproven, too expensive, and too slow to implement.

  • Greetings from Texas,
    I’m for arming the crews. Rifles and handguns have their place but for small boats and boarding parties I would go with shotguns. My preference would be pump shotguns with a staggered mix of 00 buck and slugs. Slugs work best of the boats but will make one hell of a hole in a pirate. 00 buck is best for the pirates but won’t do the boat any good either. Which ever cartridge you start with the other is a quick pump away. Just keep “pointing and clicking” until the problem goes away or stops wiggling.
    Harsh? These are pirates, right?