Flash Bang – Inside The USCG’s Secret Weapon Development Center

Posted: 08/23/2011 in all marine news

John Konrad –

The Office of Specialized Capabilities (CG-721) is located in Coast Guard headquarters and reports directly to the Assistant Commandant for Capability, Rear Admiral Vincent Atkins, but works with all CG departments to develop weapons, ammunition, and dive capabilities for use worldwide.

The team has a number of projects under development, but the latest project is the LA-51, officially known as Less Lethal Warning Munitions, used for non-compliant vessel interdiction. In simple terms, the LA-51 is meant to get your attention.

Being the Coast Guard, the military structure of the organization is always balanced with a goal to save and protect seafarers. The CG certainly has powerful weapons capable of protecting of the nation during times of war, but most of their operations are focused on saving lives, not taking them, A\and the LA-51 supports this objective.

Fired from a standard shotgun, the LA-51 is a two-part round, the first being standard to all shotgun munitions… a casing and charge to encase and propel the round to its target up to 200 meters away.  

The second part, the projectile, is non-standard. Comprised of pyrotechnics and a time delay, the projectile of an LA-51 round hesitates for a brief moment before exploding in a brilliant, and deafening thunder of smoke and noise.  It is a non-lethal weapon used for getting the attention of non-responsive vessels.

The LA-51 is not a new type of ammunition;  it is already used by the US Navy and special operations forces worldwide.  Speaking from his office in Washington, Lt. Cmdr Kenneth Nagie CG-7211, briefly discussed how CG-721 works with other enforcement agencies, like Customs And Border Protection, and the military through the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, spearheaded by the US Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.

Lt. Cmdr Nagie says, “Various units in the Coast Guard have been working since the mid-90s exploring ways to fill a gap between lethal and non-lethal weapons, but these functions were merged into CG-721 at its formation in 2009.”

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