Monday, November 07, 2005

Take that, you scurvy dogs!

In a previous post we suggested that cruise ships near Somalia might need a little military backing. Perhaps not.

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 Africa this weekend, the cruise line said Monday.

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 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.
Apparently the military developed this weapon after the USS Cole and has begun offering a civilian version.

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.

It "sounds" like a good idea, but we'd prefer a radar-guided explosive harpoon.


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