Against a backdrop of rising piracy on the high seas, particularly from Somali-based attackers, marine equipment specialist Scanjet says its SCR 360 APR water cannon Marine Protection System (MPS) is in increasing demand.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recently confirmed that 2010 was the worst year for pirate attacks on shipping on record. A total of 53 ships were hijacked, while owners reported 445 attacks on vessels in 2010, up 10% on 2009. The human cost was severe, with 1181 crew members taken hostage and eight killed.
Scanjet Sales director Bjorn Lundgren says, “After its launch in 2009, the take-up of the Scanjet MPS was slow to begin with, but since the summer of 2010 demand has really exploded. The level of enquiries has picked up at an incredible pace in recent months and is not slowing down, as owners come to realise they have to do whatever they can to protect their vessels and crews.”
A large number of vessels are now equipped with the Scanjet MPS system, the majority being tankers, ranging from small chemical carriers to large VLCCs. A wide variety of other ship types have also been equipped with the MPS anti-piracy technology, including car carriers, LNG tankers and passenger ships. Installations are individually made for each vessel based on the available pump capacity onboard.
Mr Lundgren says, “Many owners and operators are aware of the problem, but do not realise that solutions like the MPS exist and do work. As the message is getting across so the level of interest is rising fast.”
Equipping vessels with the MPS offers an effective and environmentally friendly way of protecting vessels and crew. The water cannons provide deterrence that can be seen at a distance and clearly show to pirates that the vessel is protected. They also represent a non-provocative form of protection as the water beams generated are not lethal. Mr Lundgren adds, “The MPS works. It is highly significant that none of the vessels that have MPS onboard have been successfully attacked.”
Developed in line with IMO MSC. 1/Circ. 1334 recommendations, the SC 360APR MPS is a high capacity anti-piracy water cannon, incorporating multi-nozzle machines that are driven by the flow of sea water using existing pumps onboard. Based on the well-proven Scanjet tank cleaning machine technology, the system operates automatically with nozzles rotating continuously through 360 degrees, requires no manual operation and does not need chemicals or steam additives.
Dedicated to tank cleaning equipment and anti piracy equipment, Scanjet delivers from its own production in Sweden to ensure quality control and convenient r&d for its engineering department. Since being launched, the company has continuously upgraded the MPS system to make the MPS even more durable and reliable in tough marine conditions; the rotation speed of the system has been optimised, at 4-6 rpm, to maximise protection against boarding by pirates; and the flow of water, now 50m3-100m3 hour, has been improved.
Furthermore, to optimise the downward pressure of the water a block has been installed to prevent water being projected upwards. “We emphasise the need for a strong and powerful water beam,” says Mr Lundgren. “Otherwise it is just a shower that does not really frighten anyone.”
The system is made up of three main parts - a cannon gun unit, a turbine powered drive and a mounting bracket. Once activated the system will continue running until the vessel is safe and the pumps are switched off, allowing the crew to be locked down in safe areas onboard if necessary.
Further benefits include ease of installation and removal, as it can be mounted without the need for hot work; the fact that the machine length and horizontal position can be individually adapted to meet the requirements of particular hull shapes (a feature unique to Scanjet); and its ability to be offered as either a permanent or portable solution. The machines complement existing razor wire, with the rotating nozzles either outside or operating in the in opening gaps of the wire. A VRC remote control valve system is also now available as an optional extra.