The High-Tech Battle Against Pirates

Anti-piracy gets high tech.

The High-Tech Battle Against Pirates

Ghost flies through the ocean on buoyant foils, long propeller-tipped pontoons that sit six feet underwater.

Ghost looks more like a spacecraft than a seaborne combat vessel. It’s waiting for us in the Piscataqua River, a few minutes out from its home at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. As we approach in a small chase boat, I get a full view of the cabin–sharp and angular like a stealth fighter–looming over the dark water. The roof holds a mount for a machine gun and rocket launcher. Greg Sancoff, the founder of the start-up Juliet Marine Systems, points out two 12-foot struts, each of which connects to sleek underwater pontoons. At full bore, he tells me, the pontoons ride just beneath the surface, while the cabin rises 20 feet above the waves. It is a case study in ominous, efficient engineering–a machine designed to fly through the ocean and invoke fear.

Sancoff tells me Ghost could serve many functions, including as a luxury speedboat or an attack ship for Navy SEALs. But the mission it appears best suited to is fighting pirates. With tremendous speed, and triple the range of any comparably sized vessel, Ghost is a natural interceptor. And because it rides above the water on robotically stabilized pontoons, it remains steady in all but the roughest of seas. While attackers would struggle to aim weapons from a bucking, heaving boat, armed crew members on Ghost can engage with relative ease as it bears down at full throttle.

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