Steven Chase of The Globe & Mail newspaper wrote an interesting piece about some work being done by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) to help mariners detect potential threats in piracy-prone waters (his piece can be seen by clicking here). DRDC is the research branch of the Canadian Department of National Defence, and has been looking into means of identifying small craft such as the fibreglass and wood ones used by pirates in many parts of the world. Picking out these craft with conventional measures such as radar is difficult, as the boats have little profile that can be picked up by the equipment. And the ability to discern between actual threats - such as pirate skiffs - and innocent vessels like fishing boats, is exceedingly difficult.
DRDC hopes they can figure out how to do so, by enhancing the means of identifying potential threats through the wake signature given off by fast craft. Fishing boats move at a slow and steady pace; pirate skiffs do anything but.
As the autumn piracy season fast approaches, any additional abilities to detect attackers will be of great interest to those mariners who deal with the issue of piracy. Testing is currently underway by DRDC which, unfortunately, means any widespread practical applications of this technology is still a ways off.