Coast Guard implements new non-lethal signaling, warning device in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Southeastern Coast Guard News
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Coast Guard personnel stationed in the Sector St. Petersburg area of responsibility are scheduled to use a new non-lethal warning device to aid in security operations beginning January 2013.

“All Coast Guard ports, waterways and coastal security units in the Sector St. Petersburg AOR will be capable of employing the LA51 signal and warning device,” said Ensign Andrew Denning, a member of Sector St. Petersburg Enforcement Division.

The LA51 is fired from a 12-gauge military shotgun to produce a visible and audible signal at a range of 100 meters. This signal and warning device is considered a safer alternative to the current warning devices used by Coast Guard personnel. It is a shorter range round, and the flash and noise produced by the device are more prominent than a splash in the water caused by the M16 tracer round. Additionally, the Department of Defense’s joint non-lethal weapons program has determined through their testing that the LA51 has a low risk of significant injury. Additionally, the Coast Guard determined there is no environmental impact when employing LA51.

“The new LA51 warning device is designed to warn boaters in a safe and effective manner if they do not respond to calls on the marine radio from the Coast Guard or comply with our instructions in case of a security violation,” said Denning. “Our crews are trained to use the device safely and properly as one of several options for responding to potential maritime threats.”

All members authorized to use the LA51 have received proper training and are qualified to use this tool in support of the Coast Guard’s ports, waterways and coastal security mission along the Gulf Coast.

“We will be using the LA51 primarily for the enforcement of security zones and for warning non-compliant vessels,” said Denning.

Coast Guard personnel have tested the device for several years as a warning signal during migrant interdiction and counter-drug operations. In February 2012 it was determined that the device would be added to the toolkit of Coast Guard units performing ports, waterways and coastal security missions.

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