U.S. COAST GUARD
Petty Officer 1st Class Ekahi Lee, operations supervisor,
stands with the 12-gauge military shotgun and LA51 signal and warning shells at Coast Guard Station Honolulu,
The LA51 is a signal and warning device fired from
a 12-gauge shotgun to produce a visible and audible
signal at ranges up to 100 meters. The Coast Guard will
use the warning device for migrant-interdiction operations, counterdrug operations, security zone enforcement, and ports, waterways and coastal security missions when other methods fail to get the attention of
mariners who may be in violation of local and federal
laws or regulations.
While other warning methods for communicating
with mariners — such as lights, siren and marine-band
radio — still will be used, Nagie said it is a safer and
more effective way to get a boater’s attention than firing a “stitch” of warning shots from an M- 16 across the
bow. Together, these means can get a vessel operator’s
attention and determine intent before escalating levels
These flash-bang devices are not new — they’ve
taken eight years from requirement to fleet-wide
deployment. Introduced this year for use by the Coast
Guard, Nagie said the service is conducting a major
outreach campaign to inform the boating community
about the device in all of its districts.
“Coast Guard crews have received extensive training on using the device safely and properly as one of
several options for responding to potential maritime
threats,” he said.
Stopping a boat, either to prevent it from penetrating a
security area or from escaping or evading arrest, is another challenge. The Coast Guard’s pneumatically launched
RGES is being phased out in favor of the SNARE. RGES
was a net that wrapped around a boat’s propeller.
“SNARE travels about 100 yards in front of a boat,
spreads out, and becomes an underwater ‘spike strip.’
A boat runs over it and comes to a complete halt,”
The Navy and Coast Guard are investigating the man-portable Hailing Acoustic Laser and Light Tactical
System (HALLTS) that integrates a non-lethal laser, spotlight and acoustic hailer into a single controller. Nagie
said size matters, so the Coast Guard favors a very compact unit so it can be carried aboard its small boats.
“We’re working with the Navy to investigate adding
a blue light to HALLTS, so people will recognize our
boat as a law enforcement platform,” he said.
Nagie also said the Coast Guard would like to coaxially mount HALLTS with a mounted automatic
weapon to allow lethal and non-lethal capabilities from
the same mount.
Another combination unit sponsored by the JNLWP,
the Distributed Sound and Light Array, is a non-lethal
acoustical and optical device that provides hailing and
warning capabilities. Still in the developmental stage,
the device uses the combined effects of two integrated
sensory stimulators: a distributed, high-output, phased
acoustic array and a distributed, high-output, coherent
(laser)/non-coherent (bright white light) optical array.
A non-lethal tool designed to stop people from
approaching is the ADS, which transmits a focused mil-limeter-wave beam that can penetrate the first 1/64th of
an inch of the skin and stimulate the pain receptacles. The
natural inclination is to move away to avoid the discomfort, but it causes no permanent damage.
“It feels like you’re on fire. I’d rather be pepper-sprayed 1,000 times than get in the way of that beam,”
said Nagie, who has experienced both.
As it stands today, ADS is too large for Coast Guard use.
“It’s too big for our 419-foot National Security Cutter,
so it sure isn’t going to fit on a 25-foot Response Boat-Small,” Nagie said.
The Coast Guard also is evaluating a Non-Lethal Penetrator, a 40mm round that can be fired from the M203 or
M79 grenade launcher and “injects a payload” (OC powder, warning sound devices, flashing light devices, prerecorded messages) into a fiberglass vessel to get people
out. Nagie said this round will be especially useful against
drug-running subs and semi-submersibles.
“We want to get the operators out of the vessel
before they have the chance to scuttle or dive, giving
us the opportunity to seize the crew, contraband and
the vessel,” he said.
A number of industry-funded development efforts are
producing non-lethal tools for law enforcement and