PIRATES are being thwarted in their attempts to seize control of ships, thanks to an invention cooked up by a former chef.
Teresa Stevens now works alongside her husband David at their Lee-on-the-Solent firm Maritime and Auto Security Solutions.
She came up with the Guardian Anti-Piracy Barrier as a response to the ever-present threat to shipping in the Gulf, a simply-designed plastic barrier which fits over ships’ rails and makes it impossible for anyone to board from another vessel using a ladder or a grappling hook.
The design has been so successful that Teresa and David’s company is on target to turn over its first £1m a year after it began trading.
Teresa said: ‘We were working on anti-piracy and my husband came up with a way of remotely controlling a ship.
‘But our customers wanted something to stop pirates getting on board in the first place, so we were thinking of things like ways to blast the pirates with chilli oil and other things.
‘It just occurred to me to put a huge plastic P over the rail to prevent the ladders and grappling hooks gripping.’
The plastic overhangs the rail and stops the pirates in their tracks. They use roof ladders to board ships, but with the wide plastic top, the hooks on the top of the ladder cannot find a grip, and the grappling hooks can’t grab on.
‘We tested it with Royal Marines at the maritime school in Warsash and they couldn’t get on.
‘We even tied a rope on but because of the shape of the barrier, the marines could not get past the overhang.
‘They tried for two hours and had to give up.’
The barrier took about seven months to develop, and was tested in the Gulf by container shipping giant CMA CGM before being launched a year ago.
‘They really put it through its paces,’ said Teresa.
‘Now we have put it on probably 100 ships and are in talks with an oil rig company to supply them, as they’re based off the coast of Africa. The rig and their ships get attacked by pirates regularly.’