2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 15 Oct 2003 19:26:51 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Ex-Navy contractor bashes OLF site
North Carolina
Ex-Navy contractor bashes OLF site
By Bill Sandifer
October 15, 2003

RALEIGH -- A united bloc of conservationists -- public and private --
was on hand Tuesday to hear a former Navy contractor declare the site in
Washington County proposed for a Navy outlying landing field to be
unsafe for military flight operations.

In February, Ronald Merritt was still an employee of Geo-Marine, a Navy
contract firm, when it conducted a survey of the OLF site. He left
Geo-Marine in June to form his own company.

That study gathered bird flight information via radar, information that
the Navy used to determine bird-aircraft strike hazard or BASH data, at
the site.

At the news conference and in an Oct. 13 letter to then Secretary of the
Navy Gordon England, Merritt, now president of DeTect Inc., said, "The
bird strike issue was minimized in the Final Environmental Impact

The FEIS, released on July 18, stated the Navy's preference for an OLF
in Washington County to support training operations for pilots of F/A-18
E/F Super Hornets due to be delivered to East Coast bases beginning in
2007. Retired Adm. Robert J. Natter, then commander of the U.S. Atlantic
Fleet, said the Washington County site best met criteria the Navy had
established for a new OLF, including minimal impact on the environment.

The conservation groups represented at the Tuesday news conference were
the North Carolina Audubon Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
the N.C Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina Natural Resources
Group and the Southern Environmental Law Center, which has an office in
Chapel Hill.

Merritt was also the Air Force's BASH team chief from 1988 until his
retirement in 1994, he said. He conducted a two-year study at the Dare
County bombing range which resulted in development of the so-called
bird-avoidance model, or BAM, in an effort to minimize bird strikes.
Such strikes, indicated Merritt, can be potentially fatal to pilots.

Merritt also stressed that managing bird strikes does not mean that none

"We have lots of damage and strikes (in Dare County) that cost millions
of dollars."

Part of his reason for driving up from Florida at his own expense, said
Merritt on Tuesday, was to "set the record straight, restore the
credibility of scientists who did the initial study and to provide for
the integrity for this (BASH) program ... and perhaps again to challenge
the Navy to reconsider the issue."

This article can be viewed at:

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