Gulf of Alaska and the US Navy Warfare Training Area

Yesterday was the deadline for public comments on the US Navy proposal to open up the Gulf of Alaska to Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) exercises.

We knew from the beginning that shenanigans were afoot because they opened up the mandatory 45 day comment period over the US Winter Holidays, and while it officially opened on December 4, we received notice on December 20.

Nonetheless we rolled up out sleeves and began wading through the 950 page Draft Environmental Impact Statement in the first weeks of January.

Not surprisingly we found the entire document very sketchy. The thrust of it is that none of their activities – from the dumping of 10,000 lbs. of toxic chemicals per year into the water, to annually blowing up and sinking large surplus vessels would have any more than a “negligible impact” on the environment. Somehow 400,000 marine mammal “takes” per year fits into their model of “negligible impact.”

The Navy substantiated their findings by “cherry picking” scientific papers and data to support their preferred assumptions, omitting the most current state of knowledge, constructing impact models based on faulty or incomplete data, and concocting “models of statistical convenience” that do not reflect or even approximate the subject environment.

The US Navy has recently opened up a whole passel of ASW training ranges: The Atlantic (USWTR), the Northwest Warfare Training Range Complex, Hawaii Range Complex, and the Southern California Warfare Training Range Complex. Opening up Gulf of Alaska is not justified by any scarcity of other training areas, and at this rate the entire Outer Continental Shelf will soon become an ASW Training Range.

I am not averse to a prepared US Navy, but this territorial grab brings to mind Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi who once he had established sovereignty over his entire nation had nothing left to conquer but his own kingdom.

While it’s not exactly good literature, if you are into these types of things you can read our comments here: GOA-DEIS OCR Comments

Serving suggestion: Just flip through and find a section that catches your eye. The comments contain all sorts of fodder for how the US Navy does business.