Bubble Weapons: one way to sink a ship

bubble_weaponThe next time you hear the phrase : “You can’t sink a battleship by blowing bubbles at it.” you’ll be able, with some degree of confidence, to inform the speaker that they’re probably wrong.
A new US patent issued on Feb 12th 2013, describes what the inventors call a Bubble Weapons System. Fanciful though it may seem, the owner of the patent, the Raytheon Company, has a long history and solid track-record in designing, implementing and selling devices to reliably detect and incapacitate people and property.

The new system unleashes “bubble plumes” which can, claim Raytheon, create large regions of “bubbleized” water. These plumes can not only damage a ship’s power-train, but also, in the case of a large vessel, sink it by causing it to break in two due to uneven buoyancy. [see drawing]

Oddly perhaps, the patent avoids mentioning how the bubbles are to be generated. But clues to the operation may be found in previous bubble-related documents which the patent refers to, e.g. ‘Buoyancy dissipater and method to deter an errant vessel’. Which specifies various school-chemistry lab materials which are ignited within the cannister – creating a type of highly counterintuitive device.  Essentially a large and sophisticated underwater firework. The other patent (app.) ‘Vortice Amplified Diffuser‘ sets out an even more counterintuitve scenario : “Some embodiments pertain to controlling the lethality levels of a non-lethal interdiction weapon.”

REQUEST FOR CLARIFICATION: Improbable requires assistance towards understanding the previous sentence. How can non-lethal weapons have differing lethality levels?