Britney Spears is in the news over a legal conservatorship involving her father for over a decade. Last week, she complained that she was overworked, prohibited from having more children after her conservators did not allow her to remove her birth control device and medicated with lithium. The conservatorship was put in place as she underwent a mental health crisis in 2008.
Brandy, Mariah Carey and others recently shared their support for the singer after a hearing to end her 13-year conservatorship. The growing public awareness of the case has also brought out reports of her influence. On social media, some fans have been taking a look back at the time when her songs were used to scare off pirates along the east coast of Africa. In 2013, it was disclosed that her music was being used by the British navy to drive away Somali pirates.
Spears’ hit songs Oops! I Did It Again and Baby One More Time were seen to be “most effective” at deterring kidnap attacks, merchant navy officer Rachel Owens told Metro. “Her songs were chosen by the security team because they thought the pirates would hate them most,” said Owens. “These guys can’t stand Western culture or music, making Britney’s hits perfect.”
The songs were blasted from the ships at extremely high levels, with the speakers aimed squarely at the pirates in order not to disturb the crew. “It’s so effective the ship’s security rarely needs to resort to firing guns,” said Owens. “As soon as the pirates get a blast of Britney, they move on as quickly as they can.”
A report by The Atlantic at the time said that the pirates were likely less scared by Spears herself and more by the volume her songs are played. The report added that Long Range Acoustic Device systems have been used to crack down on rioters and deter pirates in the past, blasting “a wall of sound which bring people to their knees.”
For more than a decade, Somali pirates have been terrorizing sailors along the Somali coast, with the first major commercial vessel being captured in 2005. Over the years, the piracy network has grown to become a major threat to international shipping in the Indian Ocean, prompting the intervention of the United Nations, European Union, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO.
By the year 2012, Somali piracy had cost the global economy close to $6.1 billion, according to the Guardian. Most commercial companies now hire private armed security personnel to escort their vessels. At the height of their power in 2011, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia, according to the International Maritime Bureau.