SAN DIEGO, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 05/14/09 -- American Technology Corporation (ATC) (NASDAQ: ATCO), a leading provider of directed sound products and technologies, announced today that its LRAD® systems are being used in increasing numbers as domestic and international military and maritime security forces escalate their efforts to combat 21st century piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa. American Technology created the Long Range Acoustic Device(TM) over eight years ago in response to the attack on the USS Cole.
ATC's proprietary LRAD systems enable military and security forces to determine the intent of potential threats at safe distances, providing time and distance to employ a scaled and measured response based on a threat's actions. LRAD is an effective non-lethal capability providing a highly directional, focused acoustic output to clearly transmit critical information, instructions and warnings at distances in excess of 3,000 meters. Through the use of powerful voice commands and deterrent tones, LRAD creates increased stand off and safety zones, supports resolution of uncertain situations, and potentially prevents the use of deadly force.
Successful LRAD Deployments
LRAD has proven highly effective in determining intent and warning pirates away from vessels operating off the Horn of Africa, including its successful use by the crew of the Seabourn Spirit in November 2005. Over the last eighteen months, multiple pirate attacks have been thwarted, including recently when a Japanese destroyer employed LRAD to deter a pirate attack on a Singaporean tanker.
On May 5, 2009, USNS Lewis and Clark utilized LRAD to evade pirates in these same waters. As soon as shipboard lookouts spotted two pirate skiffs approximately two nautical miles away, Lewis and Clark's crew conducted evasive maneuvers, increased speed, and deployed LRAD, issuing verbal warnings to the approaching skiffs -- successfully preventing the attack. "The actions taken by Lewis and Clark were exactly what the U.S. Navy has been recommending to prevent piracy attacks -- for both commercial and military vessels," said Capt. Steve Kelley, Commander, Task Force 53, to which Lewis and Clark is operationally assigned. Kelley continued, "Merchant mariners can and should use Lewis and Clark's actions as an unequivocal example of how to prevent a successful attack from occurring."
Captain Richard Phillips Calls for LRAD Use Against Pirate Attacks
In his testimony given at the May 5, 2009, U.S. Senate Subcommittee Hearing on Piracy on the High Seas: Protecting Our Ships, Crews and Passengers, Captain Richard Phillips responded to questions directed to him regarding preventing piracy, "It's going to take a comprehensive, multi-faceted plan to combat this..." He continued, "We have to get the non-lethal capabilities, an LRAD, a Long Range Acoustic Device..."
U.S. Coast Guard to Require Guards and Anti-Piracy Security Plans
At the same May 5, 2009 Subcommittee hearing, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D - NJ) repeatedly asked a Department of Defense (DOD) spokesperson as to why the DOD was unwilling to provide armed security for merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden. Merchant maritime shipping companies have also been calling for the DOD's assistance. In partial response to Sen. Lautenberg and the requests of the maritime shipping companies, the U.S. Coast Guard announced on May 12, 2009 that it will require U.S.-flagged ships to post guards, and for ship owners to submit anti-piracy security plans for approval. Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson told shipping industry representatives at a maritime security meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on May 12th that the new requirements are in response to the surge in piracy off the Somali coast. The new requirements will allow ship owners to decide whether to use armed or unarmed guards.
According to Watson, the requirement to post guards applies only to ships sailing off the Horn of Africa. However, all owners of U.S.-flagged ships must submit security plans to the Coast Guard within two weeks. "We expect to see additional security on U.S.-flagged vessels that transit these waters," Watson said. "It can involve the use of firearms," adding, "We are looking for things that work but don't make the situation worse."
LRAD Determines Intent at Distance and Resolves Uncertain Situations
Under the U.S. Coast Guard's new plan, it is more vital than ever that ships in pirate-infested waters deploy LRAD on their vessels, regardless of whether armed or unarmed guards are employed. LRAD use may have prevented the unfortunate incidents that occurred in March 2008 when The Global Patriot mistakenly killed an Egyptian civilian on a small boat in the Suez Canal when firing warning shots, or in November 2008 when a Thai trawler was sunk off the coast of Somalia when it was mistaken for a pirate ship.
"To date, over 80 commercial vessels have employed LRAD as a part of their layered defense system," said Scott Stuckey, ATC's vice president of business development. "For most large vessels, ATC recommends two LRAD 1000X(TM) systems mounted port and starboard. Two systems allow for nearly 360 degree coverage, providing crew members the ability to engage swarming boats."
"The remotely operated LRAD RX(TM) allows the crew to engage attackers from the security of a safe room or hardened bridge," Stuckey continued. "When alert crew members utilize LRAD to communicate warnings in the local language and dialect at distances beyond 3,000 meters, it demonstrates to the pirates that they have lost the element of surprise. Powerful LRAD warnings support the presentation of force, communicating that the ship and crew are prepared to defend themselves. In order to avoid deadly misunderstandings, it is critical that armed guards determine intent before employing lethal use of force on an unidentified approaching boat."
"Whether ships are armed or unarmed, LRAD is an essential component of a layered defense strategy," concluded Stuckey. "LRAD can deter threats at safe distances, providing ship and crew time to react and scale their defensive response. LRAD also ensures that armed security forces have clearly communicated warnings and determined intent prior to escalation of force, potentially saving lives on both sides of the Long Range Acoustic Device."
About American Technology Corporation
American Technology Corporation is Shaping the Future of Sound® by providing directed audio solutions that place clear, highly intelligible sound exactly where needed. ATC's Long Range Acoustic Device(TM) (LRAD®) and other directed sound technologies comprise the core of an expanding portfolio of products being used in diverse applications including, global military deployments, maritime security, critical infrastructure/commercial security, border/port security, law enforcement/emergency responder communications, and wildlife protection and control. For more information about ATC and its directed sound products, please visit the company's web site at www.atcsd.com.
Safe Harbor statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Except for historical information contained herein, the matters discussed are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act. You should not place undue reliance on these statements. We base these statements on particular assumptions that we have made in light of our industry experience, the stage of product and market development as well as our perception of historical trends, current market conditions, current economic data, expected future developments and other factors that we believe are appropriate under the circumstances. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those suggested in the forward-looking statements, including but not limited to, the performance of our management team, market acceptance of our directed sound technologies and products, entry of competitors, the possibility our intellectual property protections will not prevent others from marketing products similar to or competitive with our products, potential technical or manufacturing difficulties that could delay product deliveries or increase warranty costs, and other risks identified and discussed in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements are based on information and management's expectations as of the date hereof. Future results may differ materially from our current expectations. For more information regarding other potential risks and uncertainties, see the "Risk Factors" section of the Company's Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. American Technology Corporation disclaims any intent or obligation to update those forward-looking statements, except as otherwise specifically stated.