A Scots naval officer has revealed the secret weapon in the fight against Somali pirates — Britney Spears
Rachel Owens, who works on huge super tankers off the east coast of Africa, says the American pop star’s songs are being used to scare off the gangs of ruthless bandits who terrorise the high seas in the region.
She claims chart-toppers Baby One More Time and Oops! I Did It Again are the most effective.
“Britney Spears is the best way of keeping them away,” said Second Officer Rachel, 34, of Gartmore, near Aberfoyle. “Her songs have been chosen by the security team accompanying our tankers because they thought the pirates would hate them most.
“These guys can’t stand Western culture or music, making Britney’s hits perfect.”
The east African coast is a hot spot for pirates desperate to board ships and kidnap crews for multi-million pound ransoms. In 2011 there were 176 attacks on ships off the Horn of Africa — 25 of them successful. Their evil armada is such a threat the Royal Navy has 1,500 sailors on 14 warships operating round-the-clock patrols in the area.
Merchant navy officer Rachel regularly guides huge tankers through the waters. The 34-year-old, who previously sailed a fishing trawler out of Mallaig and tourist ships around the Western Isles, admits gun-toting pirates are a constant threat.
But she says her 383 yard-long vessel’s armed security staff have come up with the perfect foil in Britney’s smash hits.
Rachel added: “There are a lot of lives and cargo at stake so security is of prime importance. The speakers can be aimed solely at the pirates so as not to disturb the crew. They’re so effective the ship’s security rarely needs to resort to firing guns — as soon as the pirates get a blast of Britney they move on as quickly as they can.”
The music is currently used as a second line of defence and is broadcast when initial calls from armed security guards on board fail to deter the pirates. Steven Jones, of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry, said the US police and military were the first to use music to quell rioters.
The tactic was then adopted by cruise ships and merchant navy vessels to scare off pirates.
“I’d imagine using Justin Bieber would be against the Geneva Convention,” joked Steven. “Pirates will go to any lengths to avoid or try to overcome the music, even using earplugs.”
A spokesman for the British Association of Private Security Companies added: “Playing loud pop songs has been proven as one of the most effective ways of fending off attackers. As a tool against pirates, it is pretty effective. It’s all part of the development of sophisticated technology to make high value cargo secure from attack.
“Each security company will have its own music choice.”