Electronic Weapons: November 30, 2002


Not all electronic warfare is for deception, sometimes devices are meant for more mundane tasks, like finding sailors who fall overboard. The U.S. Navy averages about 40 sailors a year falling overboard, and two of them not being rescued. The electronic solution is a modified, off the shelf electronic locating device that can be attached to a sailors lifejacket. Most men overboard are during rough weather, when sailors who must be topside are wearing their lifejackets. Not every sailor would need one of these $250 devices, just those going on deck in stormy weather. This is one of the scariest things a sailor can do, especially at night. The cell phone size MOBI (Man Overboard Indicator), starts transmitting when it detects salt water. Electronic location gear on the ship can then locate the transmitter, and the sailor attached to it, and effect a rapid rescue. In cold water, speed is essential, for after as little as ten minutes, you die from the chill. The navy will spend $7.4 million to buy enough MOBIs for a large scale test. If that succeeds, then $40 million will be spent to equip every ship with MOBIs. 


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