Don’t Ping in the Pond

Seattle Times Online Letters 4.19.09

Navy training can harm marine life

Extensive coverage has been devoted to the U.S. Navy’s rescue of the containership captain off the Somali coast. This operation utilized three naval vessels, drones, night-vision goggles and paratrooping Navy SEAL snipers. We can feel proud when our armed forces work with such precision.

Unfortunately, no coverage was afforded the USS San Francisco’s April 7 use of mid-frequency in the Strait of Juan de Fuca as part of a sea trial for the nuclear submarine, having spent three years in a shipyard after colliding with a seamount. Such sonar has been shown to kill marine mammals and fish with swim bladders such as salmon, rockfish and herring.

While the need for military training is undeniable, the potential for collateral damage in the biologically rich and acoustically reflective inshore waters causes concern, especially when conducted in darkness. Reports of collisions with nuclear subs, such as the USS Hartford [“Two U.S. Navy vessels collide,” News, March 21], are far more common than the Navy may have us believe.

It is time that our elected officials who have made Washington home to one of the most militarized waters in the world ensure that such training does not render the vast amount of public resources being spent on natural-resource recovery moot.

— Fred Felleman, Seattle

~ by fredfelleman on April 20, 2009.

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