2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 12 Jun 2003 14:35:18 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Locke Letter
The following is an article about a letter sent by Gary Locke, the
governor of Washington, to the Secretary of the Navy concerning the
recent sonar incident in Haro Strait.  Immediately following the summary
and link is a copy of the letter.

Governor asks Navy about sonar disruption of whales
By The Associated Press
June 10, 2003

OLYMPIA — Gov. Gary Locke has asked the Navy for an explanation of the
use of sonar that some believe disrupted whales and may have caused the
death of at least seven porpoises north of Seattle.

In a letter to Acting Navy Secretary Hansford T. Johnson, Locke asked
how the Navy planned to mitigate the impact of sonar on marine mammals
in Puget Sound and the associated inland marine waters.

Navy officials would not comment Monday, three days after the later was
dated, saying they had not seen it.

“We’re always working to be good stewards of the environment. We are
interested in the environment, and anytime these things happen, we do
look into them,” said Capt. Kevin Wensing, a spokesman for Johnson.

Locke wrote that he was concerned about whether the deaths of at least
seven porpoises were caused by mid-range tactical sonar from the USS
David M. Shoup, a guided-missile destroyer based in Everett.

He noted that a study found Navy sonar responsible for the beaching of
at least 16 whales and two dolphins and the death of six whales, all in
the Bahamas, in March 2000.

To view this article, copy and paste the following URL into your

June 6, 2003

The Honorable Hansford T. Johnson
Acting Secretary of the Navy
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20350-1000

Dear Secretary Johnson:

I am writing to express my concern over an incident that took place on
May 5, 2003, when a number of orcas and porpoises were spotted fleeing
an area in Puget Sound where the USS Shoup, a Navy guided missile
destroyer, was practicing the use of mid-frequency sonar.  Seven
porpoises later washed up dead and questions have been raised whether
there was a connection between the deaths and the Navy’s sonar testing.

I understand there is evidence supporting the argument that active sonar
can cause serious harm and even death to marine mammals, such as the
joint Navy and NOAA study following a whale beaching incident in the
Bahamas where at least six whales perished.  The subsequent Navy-NOAA
investigation found that tactical sonar being used aboard Navy ships in
the region at that time was the most plausible source of the trauma to
the whales.  The report called for the Navy to put into place
“mitigation measures that will protect [marine] animals to the maximum
extent possible and not jeopardize national security.”

The actual or potential impact of sonar use on Puget sound marine
mammals is a concern.  On May 29, NOAA Fisheries officially listed one
of Puget Sound’s populations of orca whales, the “Eastern North Pacific
southern residents,” as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection
Act.  This recent listing highlights the serious situation facing these
local icons, suggesting that extraordinary care must be taken now to
protect these whales while a longer-term conservation plan is developed.

I would like to have a report from the Navy on the May 5 event and would
also like to know how the Navy plans on mitigating the impact of sonar
on marine mammals in Puget Sound given the recommendations of the report
referenced above.

The Navy has always been a good neighbor to Washington State, and we
have had an excellent working relationship.  I am confident we can have
both a strong Navy and a vibrant marine mammal population in Puget


Gary Locke

cc: Senator Marie Cantwell
 Senator Patty Murray
 Representative Norm Dicks
 Representative Rick Larsen
 Representative Jay Inslee
 Representative Jim McDermott
 Representative Adam Smith
 D. Robert Lohn, NOAA
 Dr. Jeff Koenings, Department of Fish and Wildlife
 Brad Ack, Puget Sound Action Team
 Navy Commander Karen Sellers, Navy Region Northwest

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