Coast Guard to employ flashbang munitions as a warning tool in Puget Sound

SEATTLE – The Puget Sound-area Coast Guard will begin employing flashbang munitions as a means to warn non-compliant boaters that they are entering a security zone.

The Coast Guard routinely escorts vessels transiting within Puget Sound, enforcing moving security zones around US Navy ships, Washington State ferries, cruise ships, and tank ships. As a part of enforcing these security zones, the Coast Guard is outfitting escort crews with flashbang munitions fired from a 12-gauge shotgun.

The flashbang munitions can be fired from a Coast Guard vessel into the path of a vessel that has failed to respond to radio calls and other signals to halt. Once fired, a plastic and aluminum projectile will ignite after approximately 100-meters to create a bright flash of light and loud sound. This is a safe and effective method to gain the attention of a vessel and accurately determine its intent prior to utilizing more aggressive tactics to enforce security zones around vessels and facilities.

“The Coast Guard, working with local and state authorities, conducts a vital and complex maritime security mission,” said Capt. Eric Chamberlin, Chief of Response for the Thirteenth District, in Seattle. “We are always looking for safe, effective opportunities to better protect our waterways. This new tool will give Coast Guard escort crews the ability to send an unmistakable signal to vessels.”

If boaters see or hear a flashbang round, they should slow down, establish voice communication with the Coast Guard Patrol Commander on VHF channel 16 and follow the direction of the Coast Guard.

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