Kings Bay and Port Canaveral to be evaluation ports for Coast Guard use of warning ammunition

BOSTON - Petty Officer 3rd Class Keith Owens, a Machinery Technician at Coast Guard Station Boston, takes aim at a dingy with a wooden silhouette during a training exercise off the coast of Hull, Mass., Tuesday, June 15, 2010. Station Allerton and Station Boston crews practiced using less-than-lethal techniques, including using Coast Guard presence with the boat̢??s blue lights flashing, instructing the operator to stop the boat and using less-than-lethal munitions to stop the operator of the boat. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Connie Terrell.MIAMI РCoast Guard crews in Kings Bay, Ga. and Port Canaveral, Fla. are adding warning munitions, a less-than-lethal warning tool, to Coast Guard assets conducting vessel escorts in their areas of operation as a test for potential nationwide implementation.

The munitions are being tested as another means to warn non-compliant boaters that they are entering a security zone.

The 12-gauge shotgun ammunition 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 a loud sound. This is a positive method to accurately determine the intent of a vessel prior to utilizing more aggressive tactics to enforce security zones around vessels and facilities.

The intent of the program is to pursue methods to safely and effectively protect waterways and these munitions are meant to be an unmistakable warning to non-compliant vessels.

Boaters who see or hear warning-munition rounds should immediately slow down, contact the Coast Guard Patrol Commander on VHF-FM Channel 16 and comply with follow-on instructions.

This technology is also being tested in other areas of the country. Feedback from each port will be compiled and integrated into future updates to Coast Guard policy and procedures.

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