The U.S. Navy has developed a computer model called Piracy Attack Risk Surface (PARS) that combines weather, ocean currents, shipping routes and classified intelligence data to pinpoint pirate target areas. The model predicts vulnerable attack areas through a colour-coded map dividing the ocean into zones of probability of pirate strikes.

The results are passed on to naval researchers to help them encounter pirates. “We run thousands and thousands of scenarios to come up with the most likely path the pirates are taking,” a naval oceanographer at the Naval Meteorology and Oceanographic Command William Lingsch said.

Naval researchers update the program every 12 hours with new data on winds, wave heights and undersea currents as these factors affect the pirates’ ability to attack commercial ships. Developers hope this mathematical analysis of pirate behaviour will give naval commanders an edge over the pirates whose attacks are getting bolder and more frequent.

One piracy expert said that PARS may repel pirates in the short-term, but the only solution for the State is to eliminate economic problems. “It’s a political and economic problem. Technology is only ever going to be an aid, not a magic bullet”, said Martin Murphy, a visiting fellow at King’s College in London.

Despite authorities taking stringent measures to curb pirate attacks, they have increased in the past few years.

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