Coast Guard will fire flashbangs

Boaters should steer clear if they see a ferry or other vessel under Coast Guard escort in Puget Sound. The Coast Guard has announced it will start firing warning shots of flashbang munitions to warn non-compliant boaters that they are entering a security zone.

Coast Guard vessels routinely escort ships in Puget Sound, officials said, and enforce moving security zones around Navy ships, state ferries, cruise ships and tanker vessels. Officials said escort crews are being outfitted with flashbang munitions that they can fire from a 12-gauge shotgun.

Operators of vessels that don’t respond to radio calls or other signals to halt may see the Coast Guard firing flashbang munitions into the boater’s path.

The shots consist of plastic-and-aluminum projectiles that ignite after about 100 meters to create a bright flash of light and loud sound. Officials say they are a safe and effective warning used before “more aggressive tactics” are needed.

If boaters see or hear a flashbang round, they should slow down, establish communication with the Coast Guard Patrol on VHF channel 16.

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