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Cruise ship used high-tech noise gun on attacking pirates
The Seattle Times ^ | November 8, 2005 | John Pain

Posted on 11/08/2005 6:10:31 PM PST by neverdem

Associated Press

MIAMI – The crew of a luxury cruise ship used a sonic weapon that blasts earsplitting noise in a directed beam while being attacked by a gang of pirates off the eastern coast of Africa, the cruise line says.

The Seabourn Spirit had a Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, installed as a part of its defense systems, said Bruce Good, a spokesman for Miami-based Seabourn Cruise Line. The Spirit was about 100 miles off the coast of Somalia when pirates fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns as they tried to get onboard.

The subsidiary of Carnival Corp. was investigating whether the weapon was successful in warding off the pirates, he said. The ship's captain also changed its course, shifted into high speed and headed out into the open sea to elude the pirates, who were in two small boats, he said. He had no further details.

Device maker American Technology Corp. said earsplitting "bangs" were directed by trained security personnel toward the pirates. That, combined with ship maneuvers, caused the attackers to leave the area, the company said.

The LRAD is a so-called "non-lethal weapon" developed for the U.S. military after the deadly 2000 attack on the USS Cole off Yemen as a way to keep operators of small boats from approaching U.S. warships.

The military version is a 45-pound, dish-shaped device that can direct a high-pitched, piercing tone with a tight beam. Neither the LRAD's operators or others in the immediate area are affected.

American Technology, based in San Diego, compares its shrill tone to that of smoke detectors, only much louder. It can be as loud as about 150 decibels, while smoke alarms are about 80 to 90 decibels.

The devices have been deployed on commercial and naval vessels worldwide since summer 2003, the company said.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Technical; US: District of Columbia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: banglist; lrad; maritime; piracy; pirates; seabournspirit; somalia; sonicweapon
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NORMAN J FISHER / AP
Pirates carry weapons as they travel alongside the Seabourn Spirit in this photo by a British passenger.

NORMAN J FISHER / AP
Pirates fired rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at the Seaboourn Spirit off the coast of Somalia. This photo taken by a British passenger shows some of the damage.
1 posted on 11/08/2005 6:10:32 PM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem
150 decibels?

That kind of sound could peel paint!

2 posted on 11/08/2005 6:15:15 PM PST by manwiththehands ("They wanted a Harley, they got a Scooter Libby." -Don Surber)
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To: manwiththehands

I'd be worried if pirates get their hands on earplug technology, though. We must stop earplug proliferation in order to keep these weapons effective.


3 posted on 11/08/2005 6:17:03 PM PST by Gordongekko909 (I know. Let's cut his WHOLE BODY off.)
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To: neverdem

If they got close enough to fire 2 RPGs, sounds like it it was a failure.

I recommend a face full of browning 50 cal. next time to gently discourage these folks from boarding your ship and hacking everyone to pieces.


4 posted on 11/08/2005 6:18:02 PM PST by Wiseghy (Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will. Ralph Waldo Emerson)
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To: neverdem

I hear an optional upgrade includes the Howard Dean yyyyeeehhaawwww!


5 posted on 11/08/2005 6:19:20 PM PST by tang-soo (Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks - Read Daniel Chapter 9)
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To: Wiseghy

Yes, ma deuce is a tad loud.


6 posted on 11/08/2005 6:20:20 PM PST by 359Henrie
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To: neverdem
NASDAQ Symbol ATCO up 18% today. Isn't this the same kind of weapon Ayn Rand had in mind in Atlas Shrugged?
7 posted on 11/08/2005 6:22:50 PM PST by StockAyatollah
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To: manwiththehands

I have always held the belief that civilians have no need for large weapons, cannons, RPGs or 50 cal submachine guns until I read this story.

If I was traveling on the seas, I think a 50cal and perhaps a small cannon would be appropriate and necessary.


8 posted on 11/08/2005 6:27:27 PM PST by Paloma_55 (Which part of "Common Sense" do you not understand???)
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To: Gordongekko909

ROTFLOL.


9 posted on 11/08/2005 6:29:47 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA (")
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To: neverdem; All
in other news terrorist adopt anty loud noise high tech


10 posted on 11/08/2005 6:30:24 PM PST by Flavius (Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum")
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To: neverdem
Can you hear me now?
11 posted on 11/08/2005 6:32:36 PM PST by pbear8 (France is guilty of regicide)
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To: Gordongekko909

Yep, now that they've told the world they have these "weapons" they've pretty much rendered them useless.

A good set of earplugs that cost 25 cents will make it completely ineffective.


12 posted on 11/08/2005 6:34:06 PM PST by DB ()
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To: StockAyatollah

I'm proud of ya.

First thing I thought was check for the stock price, too.


13 posted on 11/08/2005 6:34:37 PM PST by FreedomFarmer (Some settling of consonants may have occurred during shipping.)
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To: Wiseghy

The .50 cal is also a sonic weapon, albeit with a little more punch.


14 posted on 11/08/2005 6:35:12 PM PST by Eagles6 (Dig deeper, more ammo.)
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To: Paloma_55

Yea, a "fiddy" cal would work wonders ... but get that on a cruise ship! I could stick it down MY pants, but could you? :)


15 posted on 11/08/2005 6:39:17 PM PST by manwiththehands
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To: DB

A "good set of earplugs" reduces noise level by about 30dB.

120dB is still quite a painful sound to deal with, and simple earplugs aren't that helpful. In addition, the sound frequency that is being used may not be reduced as much by simple earplugs... From one of MANY web sites I could cite:

"From 90dB to 120dB, the deafness and pain may be temporary. However, ringing in the ears or tinnitus may persist and be a sign that damage has been done. Above 120dB, injury is very likely indeed. As a guide, normal conversation is about 50dB to 60dB, what the brain perceives as loud music is about 100dB, a pneumatic drill at 1m (3.2ft) is about 120dB and a jet engine at 30 metres (98.4ft) is about 130dB."


16 posted on 11/08/2005 6:44:03 PM PST by AFPhys ((.Praying for President Bush, our troops, their families, and all my American neighbors..))
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To: Paloma_55
"I have always held the belief that civilians have no need for large weapons, cannons, RPGs or 50 cal submachine guns until I read this story."

The millions of civilians slaughtered by their own governments during the last century might have survived had they had weapons like those.
17 posted on 11/08/2005 6:57:12 PM PST by monday
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To: DB

Actually at that level I really doubt that just ear plugs will do the job, but not willing to find out if I am wrong....


18 posted on 11/08/2005 6:59:51 PM PST by thebaron512
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To: AFPhys

Filling their bodies full of 50 BMG holes still trumps ANY noise weapon.


19 posted on 11/08/2005 7:00:51 PM PST by Blood of Tyrants (G-d is not a Republican. But Satan is definitely a Democrat.)
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To: neverdem

how about some M-60 and M-16's in the ship armory ,which is located near the bridge for security and good fields of fire?

As a tourist I would not want to go on an unarmed cruise ship these days .

*Boycott Aruba!*


20 posted on 11/08/2005 7:14:41 PM PST by injin
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To: neverdem

"Device maker American Technology Corp. said earsplitting "bangs" were directed by trained security personnel toward the pirates."

These weapons should not be aloud. Harmful to dolphins and whales. :)


21 posted on 11/08/2005 7:17:47 PM PST by Sertorius (A hayseed with no Greek and dam^ proud of it)
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To: neverdem

Disney should send one of their cruise ships into the Indian Ocean with machine guns hidden on it and advertise the adventure as "Pirates of Somalia Cruise" passengers could dress up as Mickie Mouse and take pot shots at the pirates that attack.


22 posted on 11/08/2005 7:19:54 PM PST by Sertorius (A hayseed with no Greek and dam^ proud of it)
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To: Wiseghy

23 posted on 11/08/2005 7:33:23 PM PST by Boazo (From the mind of BOAZO)
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To: AFPhys

Wouldn't getting "hit" with the sound waves cause physical discomfort or even tissue damage?


24 posted on 11/08/2005 7:36:45 PM PST by Grizzled Bear ("Does not play well with others.")
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To: Boazo

I'd guess that would create loud noises that the bad guys might find "uncomfortable."


25 posted on 11/08/2005 7:38:05 PM PST by Grizzled Bear ("Does not play well with others.")
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To: neverdem
The LRAD would probably have been useful when the Ismamists were using mosques as bases in Iraq. Just surround the mosque with LRADs and aim them in every window. It would have at least made it uncomfortable inside -- and there could be no complaints about defiling religious sites.
26 posted on 11/08/2005 7:43:42 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA (")
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Comment #27 Removed by Moderator

To: neverdem

I think a cruise ship will wind up being the next 9-11. Think about it, its so easy and a good test case was already done when they bombed the USS Cole.

Imagine two fishing trawlers, one with 5K kilo's of explosives and the other with gunmen. They can leave from any port in the world and travel unchalleneged to their target. Bomb boat explodes, mega cruise ship sinks in less that 15 minutes, gunmen with AK's to clean up everyone else. Total atackers less then 19 men and a death toll of many thousand, well eclipsing 9-11.

The sound generator and even heavy weapons wouldn't do you much good since you would probably not understand whats going on until its too late, and we cant have a destoyer follow every cruiseship wherever it goes.


28 posted on 11/08/2005 7:57:11 PM PST by spookadelic
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To: Sertorius

Like the Q-Boats, eh?


29 posted on 11/08/2005 8:03:40 PM PST by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: AFPhys
From the box of inexpensive foam earplugs I have:

Attenuation vs. Frequency
36.3 dB @ 125 Hz
38.5 dB @ 250 Hz
41.5 dB @ 500 Hz
39.4 dB @ 1.0 kHz
39.7 dB @ 2.0 kHz
46.3 dB @ 4.0 kHz
46.4 dB @ 8.0 kHz

These are nothing special earplugs. Professional earplugs are better. Damage to one's hearing is function of both sound pressure and time. Rock concerts are commonly in the 110 to 120+ dB sound pressure range near the stage. At those sound pressure levels it takes accumulated time to do permanent damage (10 minutes is unlikely to cause permanent damage). Long periods can easily cause damage at these levels.

The 150 dB sound pressure reported in this article is likely at or near the source. With 40 dB of attenuation from the earplugs the sound pressures would be around 110 dB even close to the source. No hearing damage will occur unless it is present for a long period of time. In addition it would only be real annoying, but not loud enough to drive you back.

The sound level drops 6 dB every time you double the distance from the source in open space. If the sound pressure is 150 dB 1 meter from the source, it would drop to 120 dB at 32 meters (about 106 feet) away. With earplugs it would be quieter than the typical smoke detector.

Typical home speakers produce about 96 dB sound pressure levels at 1 watt input power at 1 meter. A 100 watt amplifier could drive those speakers to 116 dB sound pressure levels before clipping (per channel).
30 posted on 11/08/2005 8:03:51 PM PST by DB ()
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To: Wiseghy

Wasn't the Mk19 automatic 40-mm grendade launcher originally developed by the US Navy?


31 posted on 11/08/2005 8:05:08 PM PST by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: thebaron512

I don't.


32 posted on 11/08/2005 8:11:05 PM PST by DB ()
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To: DB

And earplugs covered by earmuffs... even more protection.


33 posted on 11/08/2005 8:11:36 PM PST by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: spookadelic
I think a cruise ship will wind up being the next 9-11.

Interesting. I hope the FBI, etc. are considering that possibility.

34 posted on 11/08/2005 8:16:20 PM PST by ladyjane
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To: Gondring

And if they send the same guys back, who are now deaf, they won't need any ear plugs at all.


35 posted on 11/08/2005 8:21:34 PM PST by Cold Heart
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To: neverdem
I thought I read on another thread this was a 21st century fog horn to get attention, not a "weapon". But, whatever works to ward of pirates...
36 posted on 11/08/2005 8:21:40 PM PST by operation clinton cleanup
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To: manwiththehands
150 decibels?

That kind of sound could peel paint!

The only thing I can say about that is that is should have been 250 decibals.

Make their ears bleed.

37 posted on 11/08/2005 8:24:45 PM PST by Malsua
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To: 359Henrie
Yes, ma deuce is a tad loud.

But as ship as big as that one should probably have something even larger. A couple of single barrel 20mm cannon would surely discourage the snot right out of 'em. They were common secondary and anti-aircraft armament on torpedo boats, submarines, and other light vessels. Heck something that big could mount a 4 or 5 inch deck gun. Liberty mounted at least one, and more often two, a 3 inch forward and 5 inch aft, along with 10 or so 20 mm cannon, and they were much smaller than a modern cruise ship.

My uncle was Naval Armed Guard on the SS William Clark, Torpedoed and sunk by U.354 in Greenland Sea at approx.71.05N 13.10E on 4 Nov 42.)

Uncle Lennie survived the War, but some of his toes did not. (Frostbite, it's dang cold in the Greenland sea in November.)

38 posted on 11/08/2005 8:42:53 PM PST by El Gato
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To: neverdem; Fred Nerks; All
The crew of a luxury cruise ship used a sonic weapon that blasts earsplitting noise in a directed beam while being attacked by a gang of piratesTERRORISTS off the eastern coast of Africa, the cruise line says.
39 posted on 11/08/2005 8:44:29 PM PST by jan in Colorado (As Rush predicted...the Dems are imploding!)
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To: El Gato

Concur, but I think they have problems with lifeboat drills, much less GUNNERS, man your battle stations.


40 posted on 11/08/2005 8:48:12 PM PST by 359Henrie
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To: DB
A good set of earplugs that cost 25 cents will make it completely ineffective.

Well, probably not. For one thing earplugs only give you 10-15 dB of suppression, so that 150 dB "warning" mode is reduced to 135 to 140 dB. For another sound levels like 150 dB are felt as much as heard, depending on the frequency. Scramble your insides they might.

Still I'd prefer a nice 20 mm Gatling, or for a ship as big as a those cruise ships, maybe a 30 mm similar to the GAU-8 carried by the A-10. Private yachts and the like should carry a pair of Ma Dueces, if not maybe more. Clearly though, even the 20 mm, even in a single barrel automatic would be plenty for boats such as the one shown, and some quite a bit larger as well.

41 posted on 11/08/2005 8:48:12 PM PST by El Gato
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To: spookadelic
The sound generator and even heavy weapons wouldn't do you much good since you would probably not understand whats going on until its too late, and we cant have a destoyer follow every cruiseship wherever it goes.

Disagree. Those ships have pretty decent surface radar, they will see any "visitors" coming. Then it's on the radio to call out the calvary, if any Navy has ships or aircraft nearby. Failing that, and most of the time it would, you get on the hailing frequency and warn them off. Then you start shooting, shots across the bow if you feel you can safely do that. Then sink the SoBs, before they can get into RPG or bomb range. If you're lucky you set off their main charge when they're a thousand yards or so off.

42 posted on 11/08/2005 8:55:02 PM PST by El Gato
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To: El Gato

Of course the "authorities" in every third world cesspool, and most "first world" ones as well, will defecate a brick if you pull into their port armed with such interesting heavy hardware.


43 posted on 11/08/2005 8:57:10 PM PST by El Gato
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To: Cold Heart

"And if they send the same guys back, who are now deaf, they won't need any ear plugs at all."

And that's the point to be made. Our response (NOT .50) means they can come back. Are pirates bad guys or not? Why are we worried about their feelings? I'm sure loud noises would have discouraged the old, real pirates. Loud cannons without balls?


44 posted on 11/08/2005 8:57:35 PM PST by satan (They)
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To: 359Henrie
Concur, but I think they have problems with lifeboat drills, much less GUNNERS, man your battle stations.

Could be a problem. But if you restrict yourself to 20mm and .50 cals, automation could help alot. You could easily control the entire armament from single station on the bridge.

45 posted on 11/08/2005 9:04:00 PM PST by El Gato
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To: satan

Think outside the box...it's not to keep from hurting the pirates. One reason it's non-lethal is to prevent having a lethal weapon that can be used in sitations other than an attack on the ship.


46 posted on 11/08/2005 9:13:03 PM PST by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: El Gato
Well actually not.

Those are the mean attenuations and the standard deviation is around 4 dB. If used improperly then all bets are off.

In addition, I use these earplugs every night. I have a sound level meter. I have experience in sound reenforcement so I have some understanding of sound pressure levels and what they are like along with relative levels.

And, 150 dB is at the source. From a ship deck the distance would be likely at least 50 feet attenuating the sound substantially. The article already says that it sounds similar to a smoke detector so the frequencies involved are not low. So no "scrambling of your insides" is likely. Only slight surface heating perhaps.

I've been in enclosed areas with average sound pressures exceeding 125 dB - with ear protection. Very loud... You can feel every hair on your body... If feels like they are all being touched/brushed at the same time... I blurs your vision... It's pretty amazing ;-)
47 posted on 11/08/2005 9:31:46 PM PST by DB ()
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To: El Gato

I should add the audio frequencies used have to be somewhat high in order to direct it selectively to a target.


48 posted on 11/08/2005 9:34:52 PM PST by DB ()
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To: El Gato

As far as actual weapons go, I agree. Use real guns.


49 posted on 11/08/2005 9:35:54 PM PST by DB ()
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To: El Gato
"maybe a 30 mm similar to the GAU-8 carried by the A-10"

YEAH, that'll leave a mark! Might be a bit of overkill, though, since they'd never find the shreds of terrorist tissue.....
50 posted on 11/08/2005 9:49:37 PM PST by Enchante (Joe Wilson: "I don't know anything about uranium, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn last night!")
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