Ooh, Interesting! - The British Navy Use Britney Spears to Scare Off Somali Pirates

February 12, 2016

When you think of pirates, you are probably thinking of Johnny Depp or the threatening Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean rather than the rather jolly sight of Captain Pugwash sailing the high seas. Of course, these images are completely wrong, especially when you consider that some of the most dangerous waters in the world are so feared because of men patrolling in boats far smaller than what most would consider to be a be a pirate ship.

Thankfully, due to a rise in on-board security personnel and increased navy presence, there has been a 90% decline in Somali pirates since the early 21st Century when they were much feared by various shipping firms for their perceived ruthless nature and negotiation tactics. Hell, we’ve all seen Captain Phillips, right?

The Navy don’t just scare off potential aggressors with the threat of warfare however, oh no! They have a few more tricks up their sleeve that have apparently been just as effective. As the title explains, a simple blast of Britney Spears tracks tends to head off the Somali pirates far quicker than firing at them ever could. It’s awfully strange to consider it; these men put their lives at risk to take a ship but can’t take a couple of beats of Toxic?

Well, no. Admittedly, the British Navy aren’t using the Ivor Novello Award-winning track in their tactics. That song is perhaps a little too different to be considered for use against a band of pirates. No, the British Navy instead deploy the mega hits …Baby One More Time and Oops! I Did It Again alongside other unashamedly pop tracks from Britney’s repertoire, which allows various naval vessels a seamless route through the seas off the east coast of Africa.

As Second Officer Rachel Owens explained, “Her songs were chosen by the security team because they thought the pirates would hate them most. These guys can’t stand Western culture or music, making Britney’s hits perfect.”

This isn’t the first time songs have been used to frustrate the enemy. We’re reminded of Barney the Dinosaur’s I Love You being unleashed by American interrogators alongside Sesame Street. The best bit is that not a single bullet needs to be fired, though Steven Jones of the brilliantly named Security Association for the Maritime Industry wryly noted, “Pirates will go to any lengths to avoid or try to overcome the music. I’d imagine using Justin Bieber would be against the Geneva Convention.”

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By Henry Fosdike