Builders arm boats to chase off pirates

It’s a scene played out often these days, and not just in Disney movies: A yacht or a ship is attacked at sea, the passengers and crew are beaten or killed and the modern-day pirates get away with valuable booty.

Piracy is big business, costing mariners and insurance companies $16 billion annually, according to the Piracy Reporting Centre, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Worldwide, pirate attacks have doubled over the past 10 years, with 335 reported in 2004.

Many more incidents go unreported, either for fear of reprisals, because of doubts that an incident will be investigated, or out of reluctance to delay a voyage.