Sailors blast Britney Spears songs to keep Somali pirates away

Sailors have figured out a unique strategy for keeping Somali pirates at bay: blast Britney Spears songs.

Merchant navy officer Rachel Owens told that cranking up the volume on the pop star’s hits helps discourage pirates from boarding and kidnapping crew members—a constant problem for ships cruising off the east coast of Africa.

According to the New York Times, a whopping 3,863 seafarers were attacked by Somali pirates in 2011—though that number dropped to 851 in 2012. One such attack, the famous story of the Maersk Alabama and Capt. Richard Phillips‘s kidnapping in 2009, was recently depicted on the big screen in Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks.

But now sailors are equipped with a musical weapon against the pirates. “[Spears's] songs were chosen by the security team because they thought the pirates would hate them most,” Owens, a second officer, said. “These guys can’t stand Western culture or music, making Britney’s hits perfect.”

And apparently it’s working. “It’s so effective the ship’s security rarely needs to resort to firing guns,” Owens said.

So which Spears songs have the most pirate-repelling power? “Oops! I Did It Again” and “Baby One More Time,” Metro reports. “As soon as the pirates get a blast of Britney, they move on as quickly as they can,” Owens said.

Added Steven Jones from the Security Association for the Maritime Industry, “Pirates will go to any lengths to avoid or try to overcome the music.”

Jones says blasting another pop star’s music would be going too far, though. “I’d imagine using Justin Bieber would be against the Geneva Convention,” he joked.

Tell us in the comments: what kind of music would scare you away?