Coast Guard Sector Juneau to implement new warning signals for security patrols in Southeast Alaska

Coast Guard Alaska News
JUNEAU, Alaska — Coast Guard Sector Juneau units in Southeast Alaska, are scheduled to begin implementing a new warning signal for security patrols this summer.

The LA51, a warning signal fired from a 12-gauge shotgun that can travel up to approximately 328 feet before igniting in mid-air, will now be employed throughout the region as units begin training with them in the next few weeks.

Coast Guard crews conducting ports, waterways and coastal security operations escort cruise ships in and out of port to provide safe transit for both the public and the vessels using several methods to gain the attention of boaters who may be entering a safety zone.

The LA51 warning device is for use in support of the Coast Guard’s Ports Waterways and Coastal Security mission as a safe addition to the current inventory of warning devices used by the Coast Guard. The LA51 is used when other methods fail to get the attention of mariners in violation of local and federal laws or regulations, such as unauthorized entry to on-water security zones. Other warning methods for communicating with mariners include lights, siren and marine-band radio.

The Coast Guard has used the LA51 for several years as a warning signal during alien migrant interdiction operations and counter-drug operations offshore. The device produces a flash and loud noise, similar to a firework, meant to get a boater’s attention. If a boater sees this, they should slow down and switch to channel 16 for instructions from the Coast Guard.

“The Coast Guard would like to remind mariners to maintain a safe distance of at least 100 yards or more from transiting cruise ships and ferries. We have various ways of warning mariners such as channel 16 radio broadcasts, the use of sirens and flashing lights,” says Ens. C. Dwight Shaffer, assistant chief of enforcement for Sector Juneau. “The new LA51 warning signal is another tool to aid in the deterrent of vessels who are not responding to other methods of warning.”

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