Mumbai: With piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali reaching alarming proportions, the Indian Navy, which has been in action against the brigands for the last three years, has begun installing a device on its warships that literally scares the hell out of hostile elements.
The Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), as it is called, shouts, threatens and warns in a variety of languages.
The device has been seen on the destroyer INS Mysore and on INS Satpura, the Navy`s second indigenously built stealth frigate that was commissioned recently.
Sources told India Strategic defence magazine (www.indiastrategic.in) that the system is being installed on most of the naval ships as it can automatically translate warnings into several languages, depending upon the choice of the captain and the region his vessel is sailing in.
LRAD is a non-lethal system but, if required, can injure the targeted personnel with literally ear-splitting, very high decibel tones and noise beams of up to 150 dBSPL. In some cases however, people near the system too can suffer permanent hearing disability.
The Indian Navy has acquired the system from a US firm, which holds its patent.
The Indian Navy has a policy not to inflict violent attacks on the pirates unless they fire or attack an Indian ship. Accordingly, said the sources, it was considered prudent to install the LRAD not only because it can cause intense pain without killing but also because it can translate warnings automatically into 10 or more languages.
The system is a regular feature on most US and western naval ships as well as those of China and the Gulf countries operating in the Gulf of Aden area.
US ships do not allow unknown vessels to come near them, and if they do not respond to warnings over radio, the LRAD is used to warn them three km away with directed sound and voice beams. Hostile vessels, of course, are engaged immediately either through patrol boats or helicopters.
LRAD was, in fact, developed after the terror attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 when a hostile vessel rammed into the warship, damaging it and killing many naval personnnel.
According to the manufacturer, the system is portable, comes in many sizes and requirements, and can be installed on any platform, from police vehicles to strategic buildings and ships.
Police forces in the US and many countries use it for crowd control.