2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 4 Sep 2003 14:07:07 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Navy Spin on LFA Case
The following is a summary  of a recent article that appeared in "Inside
the Navy" on September 1, 2003.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Laporte banned the Navy from
testing a low-frequency sonar system, a decision, which Navy officials
claim, leaves a gaping hole in its ability to answer potential threats.
Laporte has ordered the Navy to cease all use of the Surveillance Towed
Array Sensor System (SURTASS) Low Frequency Active (LFA) sonar, and meet
with environmental advocates over the next month to put together a plan
defining the specific conditions under which the Navy may use this sonar
during times of peace.  On Oct. 7 all parties will meet back in court to
review the plan.

According to the decision, the Navy will no longer be allowed to use the
sonar near coastlines or in areas of the ocean known to be places in
which migration, breeding or feeding of marine mammals and other
endangered species takes places.  While Navy officials are upset by the
court injunction, it is being greeted by the environmental community as
another blow against the military's repeated attempts to exempt itself
from the nation's environmental laws.  Although the ban on the use of
the sonar is limited in its scope and can be altogether repealed during
times of war, many environmentalists see the judge's decision as a clear
message to the military that its actions must be tempered by the needs
of the surrounding environment as they are protected in our
environmental laws.

The Navy, however, while pleased that the court recognized the need to
test and train with the sonar system to some extent, is concerned by the
decision.  The service is currently investigating how specifically the
injunction will impact sonar-related activities, but the real fear of
Navy officials is how this decision will impact the training and
operations of its men.  As Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Jay Cohen
has put it, "...Sailors and Marines are marine mammals.  They are
mammals that go to sea.  And we have a responsibility to ensure their
safety as well as the indigenous species in the sea."

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