Monday, December 9, 2013
By Joseph W. Murphy
The Navy has been training and testing with active sonar in the ocean off the eastern United States for more than 60 years with negligible effects on marine mammal species.
We have done so in order to maintain our readiness to conduct safe, effective and sustained operations at sea -- operations that protect American citizens, the American homeland and American commerce around the globe.
Unfortunately, the potential effects from this training and testing have been misrepresented in some quarters, including a recent column published in this paper ("Maine Voices: Navy training-testing plans pose unacceptable risk to marine mamals," March 7).
Read what several marine scientists have commented on these issues and see what the facts are. The Navy is in the process of renewing permits to continue to train and test off the East Coast for another five years by analyzing the possible effects of those activities in the Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement, available at www.AFTTeis.com.
Here are some things to consider as you read the Environmental Impact Statement:
Training prepares our sailors for deployment in harm's way. The threats our sailors face will not be restricted to convenient times or places. That is why training needs to be as realistic and cover as many potential situations as possible.
Imposing artificial constraints on training without scientifically based environmental benefits at the price of jeopardizing human safety is not a tradeoff we are willing to make.
Such a choice would unnecessarily hinder our ability to fulfill our duty to defend the nation and the nation's interests.
Exposure to sound is not the same as injury or harm.
Scientific analysis supports that while marine mammals may be exposed to sonar during Navy training and testing, the vast majority (if not all) of marine mammals that are exposed will not be injured in any way.
The Navy employs protective measures whenever sonar or explosives training or testing is conducted. These measures are designed to minimize potential risk to marine mammals by reducing or stopping the event if marine mammals are sighted.
These measures were developed with the National Marine Fisheries Service and are evaluated annually for their effectiveness.
The proposed activities are not new. The Navy has trained and tested the same or very similar activities in the Western Atlantic for more than 60 years, and there has been no evidence of impacts to marine mammal species populations from these activities.
We share the passion many Americans feel for our ocean environment. The Navy's training and testing are compatible with the environment and will be administered by a Navy with a greater understanding of the natural environment than ever before.
I sincerely hope those interested in these issues will focus on the science and the facts, some of which I've outlined above.
Joseph W. Murphy is the deputy chief of staff for Fleet installations and Environmental Readiness, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.The Navy shares the passion many Americans feel for our ocean environment.