According to the Daily Express, this extraordinary range of security measures is now being routinely deployed on cruise ships travelling past the Horn of Africa – usually on their annual world cruise which takes them through the Suez Canal.
Pirate attacks on shipping off East Africa are rising although more are being disrupted by a 25-nation naval presence.
This includes the Royal Navy ships HMS Cornwall and Richmond, both equipped with heavily armed helicopters.
The scale of the piracy threat was revealed by the capture of British yachting couple Paul and Rachel Chandler.
They were seized by pirates in the Indian Ocean in 2009 and endured a harrowing 388-day ordeal in Somalia before being freed by a ransom.
Cruise companies will not reveal the measures taken to deter pirates in what is effectively a 480-mile transit corridor through the danger zone.
But Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth has been deploying razor wire on the stern during its maiden voyage this month to make boarding from the sea all but impossible.
A Cunard spokesman said: “When we are in the at-risk area we deploy lookouts all around the ship to ensure that no boats are trying to get close.”
He added: “On the stern, which is the pirates’ favoured point of access, we have used razor wire. The passengers can see it but it can’t harm them as it is fenced off.”
The spokesman said that like most ships the Queen Elizabeth has long range acoustic devices which can be trained on would-be attackers and emit a high-pitched noise similar to a very powerful car alarm.
This is beyond the tolerance of human ears and usually drives off any potential pirate boarders.
During the two-day transit of the danger area the Queen Elizabeth also turned its lights off at night on the promenade deck – the lowest deck to which pirates could gain access.
Passengers were kept off it at night while crew were stationed there as lookouts. All ships also have their own security personnel, with Cunard employing many former Gurkhas.
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