The Navy’s planned exercises would mostly occur in existing testing ranges in Northwest waters and off southeast Alaska.
The Navy has finalized a Northwest training and testing plan to include new biennial exercises in offshore waters and mine-warfare exercises in Puget Sound.
The training is intended to help the Navy maintain combat-ready forces, and a statement released Friday said the impacts on human, natural and cultural environment “were carefully considered. The exercises are planned primarily within existing testing ranges and operating areas in Northwest waters and off southeast Alaska.
The training includes:
• Small boat-attack gunnery exercises;
• Missile exercises with high explosives that will occur at least 50 nautical miles offshore;
• Maritime-security operations and testing of undersea hardware;
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The plan, which follows years of research, analysis and consultations with tribes, is outlined in a new document based on an environmental-impact statement.
The potential environmental impacts of the training could include harassment and possibly injury to some marine-mammals species, including some listed under the Endangered Species Act, from sonar and other acoustic sources. But the Navy does not anticipate any marine-mammal deaths will result from the sonar and acoustic activities or underwater explosives, according to the new document.
In June, a Coast Guard-operated vessel supporting a Navy operation struck a humpback whale, but such strikes were “exceptionally rare,” according to the document, which added there was no evidence that whale was seriously injured or died.
Leatherback sea turtles may be affected, but no injuries are predicted by Navy models, the document states.
Some tribes have expressed concerns. The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe says the training would affect portions of tribal fishing grounds.
The Navy consultations with tribes will continue.