Navy Floats Draft Environmental Impact Report for Gulf Wargames


Jay Barrett/KMXT

A team of about a dozen Navy employees and contractors are visiting a handful of coastal Alaska cities presenting a draft Environmental Impact Statement for proposed Gulf of Alaska naval maneuvers. Depending on the alternative selected by the Navy, those maneuvers could involve use of high-powered sonar used in anti-submarine warfare, and even the sinking of derelict ships using artillery, missiles or torpedoes.

Alex Stone of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet is project manager for the Gulf of Alaska EIS. He said a major part of the study was analyzing the potential effects of the high-powered sonar on marine mammals that live and migrate through the gulf:

(Navy EIS 1 36 sec "We’ve done acoustic … we should have looked at.")

However, Dave Kubiak, the chairman of the board for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, says the Navy could not have picked a worst place – from the perspective of commercial fishermen – to conduct undersea war games. He read the Navy’s reasons for wanting to use the gulf, from the draft EIS:

(Navy EIS 2 33 sec "The unique and complex … them so rich in biodiversity.")

There are three alternatives in the draft EIS. The first is a no-action alternative, which means no change in naval activities in the gulf. Alternative One includes the use of sonar and maneuvers lasting 21 days instead of two weeks. The last is the preferred alternative, which includes the sonar and extended time frame, and adds a second training session per summer, and includes the sinking of derelict ships with various weaponry.

The Navy’s Matt Hahn explained why such realistic war games are preferred:

(Navy EIS 3 22 sec "It’s the preferred alternative … needs to be required.")

Kubiak said he supports the Navy’s need to train, but thinks there is a better alternative:

(Navy EIS 4 29 sec "They could have put it … and you can fly that way.")

The Navy has held open houses so far in Kodiak, Anchorage and Homer. Today (Monday) they’ll be in Juneau and in Cordova tomorrow.


Check Also

A Ravn Alaska airplane at Unalaska’s Tom Madsen Airport in 2022. (Theo Greenly/KUCB)

Midday Report – March 01, 2024

On today’s Midday Report with host Terry Haines: Alaska’s biggest regional airline has laid off …

%d bloggers like this: