Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons

Writhing water hose system designed to thwart pirates


April 27, 2012

The Anti-Piracy Curtain is a ship defense system, designed to keep pirates at bay using snaking high-pressure water hoses

The Anti-Piracy Curtain is a ship defense system, designed to keep pirates at bay using snaking high-pressure water hoses

Image Gallery (5 images)

As modern-day piracy continues to be a real threat to ships in some parts of the world, people are likewise continually coming up with new ways of projecting crews and passengers against attacks. While some anti-piracy systems have utilized things such as sound waves and lasers, a new one uses something that is decidedly lower tech – flailing water hoses.

The Anti-Piracy Curtain was designed by a division of Japan’s NYK Group, along with hose manufacturer Yokoi. It’s intended for use on smaller ships (which are more vulnerable to attacks), and consists of a series of patented hoses that are dangled off the port and starboard sides of the vessel.

The ship’s existing fire-fighting system pumps seawater into those hoses, which spray it out via their high-pressure nozzles at a force of 0.2 megapascals. That figure might not mean much to most people, but it’s evidently enough to send the hoses into violently unpredictable gyrations, packing enough force to seriously injure anyone who gets in their way.

Sinkers attached to the ends of the hoses keep them down near the pirate boats, while rubber covers on the nozzles and sinkers reportedly stop them from damaging the paint on the ship’s hull.

Along with packing a nasty wallop, the hoses also ... well, they also spray water. Besides getting in the pirates’ eyes, there would apparently be enough of it getting sprayed out to fill up the attacking boats at a rate of over one centimeter (0.39 in) per minute. Needless to say, that would depend on the size of the boat.

While the hoses should certainly pose a couple of practical challenges to pirates trying to board a vessel, they’re also intended to be a psychological weapon – with their bright yellow color and wildly snaking movements, they’re highly visible from far away. The hope is that pirates wouldn’t even bother approaching a ship that’s using them.

In tests of the system, the Anti-Piracy Curtain has already been shown to be capable of operating continuously for two weeks. Sea trials are planned next – there’s no word on whether or not those trials will involve attacks by actual pirates.

More information is available in the video below.

Source: DigInfo via PopSci

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

"...at a force of 0.2 megapascals. That figure might not mean much to most people,"

First, megapascals is a unit of pressure, not force. Second, it would have taken a few seconds to convert 0.2 MPA to 29 psi for American readers.

That said, it's a decent idea. Although I'm rather partial to flamethrowers armored with steel plate pointing down the gunwales. Guess I'm just a little bloodthirsty when dealing with pirates.


Interesting idea. Dangling a whole heap of high pressure water hoses over the side.... and running them. And despite the claim that all that thrashing around and the design of the unit will not damage the paint - unless the hoses are made of Teflon - they will rub and ding and abrade the paint off the side of the ship... As to why people who own the ships, not simply arming the crew and a watch kept is beyond me. A sweeping camera or two in the crows nest - with IR capability for night time use. Half a dozen rifles with automatic fire and night scopes, a bit of thick steel plating at the bridge ends. Problem solved.

Mr Stiffy

I would use this as a backup or last resort, not as the only means against pirates.

Why the reluctance to use deadly force?


Mr Stiffy...

They are ship crews, not military personal. Excluding some countries (or states to be more specific) not everybody wants to fire a gun. Good luck finding a crew who is trained in combat and can reliably do their task on the ship as well.

And unless they painted the ship in facepaint I think it has a fairly reasonable chance of withstanding a couple weeks of fire-hose 'abrasion'.


Instead of ammunition for said sentry guns why not combine with this and make an automated watergun? Hell I will build one if anyone is interested in buying. {[Patent Pending]}

Bryant Drake

Wow....really? So....what happens when the pirates get mad and instead shooting a few stray rifle rounds in the ship, they start lobbing a few dozen RPG-7 rounds and the ship sinks?

Only a matter of time before the pirates figure our how to catch the hose and use is as a rope.


This has to be one of the stupidest things I've seen yet on Gizmag. Is it April 1st again? I agree with Mr Stiffy (can't believe I just said that either)!

Steven Howie

Mr Stiffy, because there's this idea among many countries that people don't have the right to defend themselves. Try to enter a port with an armed crew and they'll be arrested.


Can't blame port authorities for not liking it when armed foreigners show up, can you?

Anyway, they'd never win a gunfight with pirates. A cargo ship is a really, really big target, and these pirates have RPGs designed to take out tanks.



The bridge on most ships is usually 5 to 8 stories above the water = Height Advantage.

The ship is BIG and stable = aiming and accuracy advantage. , The pirates have small boats bobbing around in the ocean = total disadvantage.

The steel plate composing the ends of the Bridge provide full body coverage against most gun fire. The Pirates are getting shot at from above in open boats.

In terms of who can shoot who, a few hundred rounds down into the smaller boats, from a great range, with very remote chance of getting hit ones's self - it's a great idea.

Until the pirates get self guided man portable missiles.... but that is another issue of COST and when they revert to this, instead of simply raiding the ships and taking hostages, then they risk the comeback of openly being attacked themselves with more and better armed crews on the ships... including military coverage and hardware on board.

2 or 4 soldiers onboard - with extra hardware.... A few hundred rounds through a 1/2" caliber machine gun....

Personally I have never liked the idea of bending over with my pants around my ankles for any one.

Pirates, thieves and stand over merchants even less so.

Mr Stiffy

Fire hoses are a cutsie solution. A golf cart equipped with a Dillion Aero and pulling a trailer holding batteries and linked cartridge magazines is much more effective solution and removes the problem for those who follow you.


@Decimator, That's easily bypassed by transshipping the weapons, ammo, and gun crew to the next outbound ship via helicopter prior to making port. There's no law against shipping batteries and a golf cart.

The considerable insurance savings make the venture profitable for both the shipping line and the security contractor.


Shipowners don't want to have the crew armed for fear of lawsuits if some crew member goes crazy and kills a fellow crewman or an innocent in port. Keeping the weapons in arms locker except when responding to a specific threat.

Just buy a bunch of largish R/C planes and equip them with a streaming video system and a Molotov Cocktail.


@flink. One RPG at the helo and both ships are sitting ducks. That is just watching for patterns, and picking your moment. Most charter boat crews I know are armed with at least 12ga. shotguns for Ariel flares, and I am sure they carry slugs and buck shot as well. problem is that even small guns make port officials nervous. I happen to like the idea of radio controlled quad copters armed with exploding payloads and miniguns. Shoot till your ammo runs out, then drop in for a visit.


The Japanese obviously built this system to be used on their whaling ships to repel the Sea Shepherd whale protectors without severely injuring them. That would be bad publicity for the whalers.


I really don't see a bunch of dirt-poor pirates winning any kind of an arms race. If they could afford RPGs, they would already have RPGs.

The real solution to piracy is to send in troops to clear out their bases on land. But the problem hasn't become big enough yet to justify that kind of reaction.

Jon A.

@Jon A, Pirates are anything but dirt poor. They strip ships of anything of value, and often leave no witnesses. They have big guns, and fast boats. They have been known to carry and use explosiveness. RPGs are not unknown either. These are NOT homeless people with a bad attitude and a row boat, these guys are very real and very dangerous. As for land troops on foreign soil, don't you think we have enough war fronts at this time? Or do you think we should piss yet another nation? Two ships square off in international waters, The biggest guns usually wins and the world says "Oh what a shame" . Square off inside a country's borders, and it is an act of war. Besides, I'm sure you already know where these bases are, and can tell the fighters from the non-combatants? At sea, they are all combatants. No questions asked.


As an Engineer with 30 years on board ship, including in pirate waters, I have to agree with those who advocate a less weaponized approach. There is no way that most merchant ships can get in a firefight with pirates and win it. If every merchant ship were armed like a destroyer, then this wouldn't be a problem, but merchies are not navy, and we didn't sign up to go to war. The problem is that there is no state to stop these pirates. That, and they are extremely well funded by rich people making lots of money. If you want to stop piracy, stabilize Somalia, and follow the money to the people supplying weapons and making big bucks off of the ransoms. Collect them, and the problem stops.

Bruce Sherman

Please refer- http://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-reporting-centre/live-piracy-map

While there's a heavy amount of activity in the proximity of Somalia right over to India, there is yet much activity from the coast of Southern China to the Southern extent of Indonesia, in the convex curve of West Africa, and even light levels off the coast of Colombia in the Pacific.

The ICC warns ship masters:"In most incidents as soon as the pirates / armed robbers know that they have been spotted or feel the vessel has been secured and is a difficult target they will abandon the attack. However Somali and Nigerian pirates tend to be more aggressive in their attacks and hence additional precautions have to be taken."

Forbes noted four years ago:"But Somalia is not the only place with piracy outfits this organized. Somalia is a relative latecomer to contemporary sea piracy. Since 2000, southeast Asia has had the most dangerous waters in the world. Malaysia and the islands of the Indonesian archipelago have seen the lion's share of sea piracy since 2000. Also troubling: the waters off Nigeria and Iraq."

. . . "birth of the illicit global arms trade that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 made it easier for many to become pirates, according to Chalk. The arms trade has made cheap and powerful weapons available. Instead of machetes, knives and pistols, they come equipped with AK-47s, M-16s, rifle grenades and [rocket-propelled grenades]."

Many of the longer-term lower key pirates are fishermen seeking income outside their visible work.

As the proponents of the Seawater Hose Defense system note, most common seamen are not trained in the use of firearms. Very small proportions of the vessels of maritime commerce have solely American crew-members.


Welcome to the grand age of the wussy. Every country on earth should be hunting these pirates down like the scum they are, and speeding them along to a watery grave. How long can the international community keep sticking its head in the sand and ignoring these pirates ? Lack of action only emboldens them to further pursue their illegal ventures.

Pirates in the old days were enemies of the state and were considered terrorists of their days.They deserve the same attention as Al Qaeda. I have to agree with some of the above comments...fire hoses really....? What a joke..... Why try writing them some letters with some harsh language. Oh wait that's already being done by the U.N.


Well, see, the fishermen of Somalia considered themselves lucky for having a good income, able to get enough to eat, away from all the fighting in the city, etc. Then came the tsunami. Worse than a wall of sea that basically erases your home, is what was left behind. Apparently the Western world has been dumping toxic and medical wastes off the shore. So now those fishermen are out of work, and being poisoned by the toxic wastes. Thankfully, the local RKBA guy gave them the idea of instituting a toll system on the ships that passes by. For some odd reason :-) the ship owners reacted negatively. They should've dressed up as Jack Sparrow; maybe the reception would've been better. ^_^


People who are self reliant abject to increasing taxes and government mandates more than people that believe that the only reasonable response to an emergency is to call for government assistance. Thus many governments do not want the owners and crews to be able to deal decisively with pirates.

The average adult can be trained with rifles to the point that they do not represent a threat to themselves or their companions within four hours.

A heavy machine-gun or light artillery piece with a duel trigger system so that it takes the action of two different people to fire the weapon would solve most of the worries of having armed merchantmen.


Personally I like bullets better. They finish the job, eliminate the pirates and further deterrence is not necessary.


If the ship owners would arm the ships and hire a single trained military person (their pay would be peanuts compared to the value of the ship, crew and cargo) that could do other jobs onboard this would end QUICKLY! It ONLY continues (and grows) because the pirates know their chances of being killed are near zero.


In the interest of self-preservation, i think a little combat cross-training should be arranged for shipping crews and a weapons armory secured within the vessel. If I were I aboard a ship, I would be aware at least of a potential threats on the seas and would prefer the ability to deter those threats by any means, to include deadly force. However, if an automated system could be employed, I would redesign the ships rail as a continuous trolly mechanism for twin automated, armored, security bots that could detect, and identify threats at long range, alert and inform a team, and begin multiple levels of defense and deterrent processes; to include; soundwave technology, EMP grenades, laser guided, spread-shot ballistic, incendiary, and rocket defense. A trolly-bot could also perform some functions on the fly, creating a moving, difficult target for small arms or whatever else pirates might be packing. Myself, If I owned a gigantic supervessel on the ocean, I'd just add an elevated, armored turret deck above the bridge and stuff a GAU-8 up there and be done with it. Even a semi-drunk captain on rolling seas couldn't miss with an Avenger, just have to identify the target as pirates is all (wouldn't want to swiss cheese a tourist boat by mistake, "oopsie")


As MANY of the guys have rightly said, there ARE many various things to try better than a flailing hose, IF I was coming against the fierce flailing hose, Im sure with a few Ropes and bamboo poles I could tie up 2 Hoses and take that area of the ship and make it safeish for me to board.

SO, what would I do, as in the 2nd world war Id have a meeting zone outside the pracy hotspots and get a convoy of the smaller ships to work together and pay for a sceurity team (ARMED) between them, at the end of the Piracy run 1 way, You organize and meet another convoy of MY/YOUR smaller ships to take them back through the danger zone. This way NO armed sailors are entering ports and with a mothership offshore, Im sure with helicopter shifts coming onto and off the ships we could do a better job than the single navy ships being put forward by the Navies of the world. Its almost as if they want the pirates to take the ships, and with Corrupt officials in Somalia Im sure Im NOT far from the truth.

To summise, Gimme 30 Special Ops guys WELL armed and highly paid, and Im sure they'd realize they have a better chance against a few pirates than up against IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq...In the next year or so there will be MANY highly trained soldiers who can operate a rifle effectively, and at the end of the route allow the ship to enter ports UNARMED adhering to the countries daft regulations, when was it deemed that a ship in International waters Cant protect itself and its crew from some RagTag pirates in a wooden boat with an outboard, a rail mounted 50 cal on each side with 2 well trained operatives would outrange most RPG on a rocking fast moving boat.


@ Decimator, said "Try to enter a port with an armed crew and they'll be arrested". I have traveled the Caribbean in a 40 sailboat with a Mini14 Rifle for long range and a 45 cal. colt pistol for close protection and have not yet been arrested when declaring them upon entry of any port I chose to visit. Firearms are considered "ship equipment". FACT!

If you desire to own a firearm for personal protection and vessel defense, the law allows you to do so, for the most part.... "Arm chair" opinions formed through speculation and influenced by the fiction and fantasy of novels, movies, and television shows are not educational sources on the topic.

Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles