High-tech shipping sets up vessels for pirate attack
At the moment, most commercial vessels are required to use AIS, Automatic Identification System, as a collision avoidance measure. It radios the ship position, course and speed to any ships within receiving range. And to any pirates. The Washington Times reports AIS is a suspect in the recent hijacking of a mega-tanker 450 miles offshore. "The ability of the pirates to intercept this mega-tanker so far out in the Indian Ocean suggests they were able to obtain either track information from an outside source or they were electronically able to intercept the ship's Automatic Identification System (AIS). The AIS system is driven by Radio Frequencies (RD) that can be intercepted and tracked by any ship with an RF intercept capability"
That'd make sense. Picking off ships at choke points isn't that hard, but you'd not want to range out 450 miles, without radar, unless you knew where and when to intercept a big prize. Its captain changes course by a degree or two and you're going to spend a long time waiting for nothing.
AIS receivers are on the market (Google AIS receiver and you get prices as low as $189, more if you want a GPS unit to show your own location relative to the target), and if you qualify you can even get one for free.
But they don't need a radio receiver, just an internet connection. Go for a world map showing location of ships at sea, with different designations for cargo, passenger, tanker, etc.
Click on the "vessels" tab and you get a nice table of all vessels at sea, their type, last location and course (and when that was recorded, usually less than an hour ago) and destination. Click on the individual ship and you get its details. Admiral L is a tanker, weight 41,100 metric tons, ETA Houston on Jan. 11, reported at 24.2255 lat., -81.83988 long, 52 minutes ago. Click on its "track" and you get a nice map. It's heading around the Florida Keys right now.
I'd guess a hi-tech pirate would use both. Ship-to-ship AIS range is about 20 miles; if you have a receiver on a mountain, it can go to ten times that. So you'd have a guy ashore with an internet link up, to radio you on any course changes by the target. When you get close, you have your own receiver for the final approach. This would also suggest that radio monitoring might give advance word on pirate attacks. You'd be listening for someone ashore broadcasting locations and courses, maybe even naming the target. A bit of direction finding and you'd also have the pirates' transmitter's location, just in time for an air strike.
UPDATE: after pirates attacked a chemical tanker, British helicopters rescued three unarmed security personnel. Unarmed security personnel have never had a good track record against pirates. Blackbeard and the boys are not here for a wrestling match. What you need is a .50 caliber M2 and some guys who can use it. Or if you want it on a smaller scale, turn out the crew with M1As. Your opponents are bouncing around on a high-speed vessel, you've got a steady platform. Open fire at, say, 400 yards and I doubt anyone would need a second magazine.
Several hat tips to Don Hamrick...