Environment

Navy Seeks Permits To Expand Testing Off Northwest Coast


Sailors unloading sonobouys from a Sea Hawk helicopter. The Navy wants to expand its permit to deploy vessels and sonobouys off the Washington, Oregon and northern California coastline.

Sailors unloading sonobouys from a Sea Hawk helicopter. The Navy wants to expand its permit to deploy vessels and sonobouys off the Washington, Oregon and northern California coastline.

U.S. Navy

 SEATTLE — For the past several years the Navy has been in the process of renewing the permits it needs under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to continue detonating explosives and performing sonar tests and other military activities along a large swath of the Northwest coast, from Northern California to the Canadian border.

Starting Monday, the Navy is asking for public comment on a supplement to its initial environmental impact statement. The supplement includes consideration of an increase in escort vessels and other traffic and anti-submarine warfare training using sonobuoys. Sonobuoys are 3-foot long buoys that are dropped from aircraft into the ocean. The devices use active sonar to detect submarines beneath the surface. The sonar is harmful to whales and dolphins.

Marine mammals like porpoises, gray and fin whales and endangered orcas travel through the Navy’s training range. That’s raised alarm among marine mammal advocates who have voiced concerns about the Navy’s activities. EarthJustice and others conservation groups are opposed to the Navy’s desire to conduct testing and training within the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. 

The Navy says it will keep a lookout for marine life during the exercises. 

The public has until Feb. 2 to submit comments. 

Upcoming public meetings: 

Tuesday:

Grays Harbor College HUB
1620 Edward P. Smith Drive
Aberdeen, WA 98520

Wednesday: 

Isaac Newton Magnet School Gym
825 NE 7th St
Newport, OR

Friday: 

Eureka Public Marina, Wharfinger Building, Great Room
1 Marina Way
Eureka, CA 95501

Navy EIS marine mammals sonar sonobuoys

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