Rosalind Peterson: Call To Action — Navy Warfare Testing Threatens Marine Mammals and Habitats

Agriculture Defense Coalition 5/1/12
Redwood Valley




USA TODAY revealed bad news for our oceans when they published a news story titled:  “Navy Plans Could Affect More Marine Mammals” on August 5, 2010 [1].  According to USA Today news article, backed up by federal documents from the U.S. Navy and NOAA:   “…The Navy plans to increase ocean warfare exercises, conduct more sonar tests and expand coastal training…activities that could injure hundreds of thousands of marine mammals or disturb their habitats…”

What do your Elected Officials Know

In a letter to NOAA, dated June 19, 2009, several U.S. Senators, including U.S. Senator Feinstein and U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman, stated:  “…In many regions, the Navy plans to increase the number of its exercises or expand the areas in which they may occur, and virtually every coastal state will be affected. Some exercises may occur in the nation’s most biologically sensitive marine habitats, including National Marine Sanctuaries and breeding habitat for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. In all, the Navy anticipates more than 2.3 million takes (significant disruptions in marine mammal foraging, breeding, and other essential behaviors) per year, or 11.7 million takes over the course of a five-year permit…” [2]

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The NOAA Definition of “Take”:  “Defined under the MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act), as “harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect.”  Defined under the ESA (Endangered Species Act) as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct…”[3]

On January 19, 2010, NOAA (Dr. Jane Lubchenco), sent a letter to Ms. Nancy Sutley, Chair, Council on Environmental Quality that states:  “…In the Environmental Assessments, NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service-NOAA), also identified the relevant uncertainties regarding the impacts of the proposed training on marine mammals.  Two are worth highlighting:

  • One involves lack of knowledge about the mechanism whereby some species of marine mammals…are adversely affected by mid-frequency sonar.
  • The other concerns the difficulties of limiting the impact of active sonar where the mitigation efforts depend on visual sighting of whales…”

Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA Administrator, shortly after approving the “taking” of marine mammals in the U.S. Navy’s NWTRC (Northern California, Oregon, Washington & Idaho), made this brief statement after audience prompting, in a Meeting in Ukiah, California on December 9, 2010:   “…”also an area where I have serious concerns. We are in active discussions with the Navy. There is a lot we don’t know about the impact of sonar on whales, and we will continue to get the information we need to reach the best possible outcomes…”  The answer raises an obvious question:  “How does NOAA approve the “taking” of marine mammals when there are still unresolved questions about the impact of sonar on whales?”

With respect to military readiness activities, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as:  “…(i) any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild [Level A Harassment]; or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered [Level B Harassment]…training activities may expose some of the marine mammals present in the area to sound from various mid-frequency and high-frequency active tactical sonar sources or to pressure from underwater detonations..”  [3]

One of the most recent, and shocking, NOAA permits allowing for the taking of thousands of marine mammals by the U.S. Navy in the Southern California Range Complex [19]. Take a look at the graphs on this Navy document which lists the thousands of marine mammals that the Navy intends to “take” between 2012-2014.

U.S. Warfare Training Range History & U.S. Cooperating Agencies

Starting under the Bush Administration and continuing under the Obama Administration, twelve U.S. Navy 5-Year Warfare Testing Range Complexes, initiated between 2008 and 2012, are in full operation in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic, and the Pacific. [7]   The tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is still threatening local economies, human health, the fishing and tourism industry.  The oil and Corexit pollution has been threatening this environment for years.

Adding to this ongoing problem in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force, with permits approval by NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), have now started another assault on this area using multifaceted warfare testing experiments that include bomb blasts, sonar use, missile exercises, and the testing of new weapons systems.  NOAA has issued permits allowing the U.S. Navy to “take” marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans areas [4-7].

NOAA (U.S. Department of Commerce – National Marine Fisheries Service), had previously approved the “taking” of marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico.  And then NOAA, in the first few months during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, admitted that they knew little about the marine environment in this underwater area.  Now NOAA has issued permits to the U.S. Navy and Air Force for 5-Years of warfare testing in the Gulf of Mexico (December 19, 2011 [4+6-7]), and in other areas, which may exacerbate the current environmental problems in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. [4]

Using the Earth & Inhabitants as Test Subjects

Our oceans and land areas, in the Pacific, Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico along with all inhabitants, are to be used as warfare test guinea pigs without public consent, debate, U.S. Congressional hearings or any public oversight.

Drone Weapons Testing & Surveillance Over the United States

In addition, the U.S. Navy is now working to expand their drone operations over the United States.  In Oregon, a new draft Navy Environmental Impact Statement is due out this spring for public comment [9].  Drones carrying and testing bombs, new weapons systems, testing new types of drones, and surveillance over land and ocean areas are planned for our future. Compounding this issue, as reported by The on April 2, 2012,  “…American scientists have drawn up plans for a new generation of nuclear-powered drones capable of flying over remote regions of the world for months on end without refueling…” [20].  In addition, there is increasing drone surveillance leading to questions over public privacy in the U.S.  Accidents are increasing as police departments in Texas and other areas are increasing drone usage [21-22].

Marine Mammal Mitigation Measures – Effective Only 9% of the Time

Mitigation measures, to protect marine mammals from sonar, are effective only 9% of the time according to NOAA & the U.S. Navy.   Fish, birds, ocean habitats, feeding and breeding grounds, biologically sensitive areas, and human health, are not protected by any government agency in most areas of the Gulf of Mexico from military weapons testing. The U.S. Navy is using toxic chemicals, sonar, missile exercises, bomb blasts and other types of new weapons testing which threaten the Gulf of Mexico and many areas in the Atlantic Ocean.[7]  U.S. Navy and Air Force bomb blasts could trigger earthquakes or create underwater fissures causing more oil leaks in the Gulf of Mexico.  Fragile, capped,  oil wells in the Gulf could be damaged and start leaking as bomb blasts rock the Gulf during the next five years of warfare testing.

Ocean Problems = Dead Zones & Military Dumping of Old Toxic Arsenals

We do know that many toxic chemicals are found in all ocean areas along with numerous dead zones (12-13).  According to a New York Times article on July 20, 2010:  “…The Gulf’s floor is littered with bombs, chemical weapons and other ordnance dumped in the middle of last century, even in areas busy with drilling, and miles outside of designated dumping zones, according to experts who work on Deepwater hazard surveys…”[14]   In many ocean areas, including the Gulf of Mexico, military dumping of arsenals, in the past, which now reside on ocean bottom areas and contain toxic chemicals which already may be leaking, could be disturbed by these bomb blasts and other warfare testing exercises (14).

Types of Warfare Testing to be Used in Our Oceans & Over Land Areas

The Navy Warfare Testing Program will, according to their E.I.S. documents:  “…utilize mid- and high frequency active sonar sources and explosive detonations. These sonar and explosive sources will be utilized during Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) Tracking Exercises, Mine Avoidance Training, Extended Echo Ranging and Improved Extended Echo Ranging (EER/IEER) events, Missile Exercises, Gunnery Exercises, Bombing Exercises, Sinking Exercises, and Mine Warfare Training…” (8)

U.S. Navy Warfare Chemical Menu

The “Navy Warfare Chemical Menu” [6], will contaminate air, water, the ocean, and soil. Their list of toxic chemicals is a long one as noted in various Navy E.I.S documents:  Depleted uranium, red and white phosphorus, cadmium, lead, perchlorate, titanium oxide, atmospheric releases of aluminum oxide (from U.S. Navy C.A.R.E. Atmospheric Experiments over East Coast of U.S. [16-17]), Chaff releases (aluminum coated fiberglass particulates), and a whole host of chemicals known to be toxic not only to man, but to marine life and fish, are being served up on this menu.  In addition, highly classified weapons systems are also to be used during these 5-Year Warfare Testing Experiments over both land and ocean areas in the Pacific, Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico.[7]

12 U.S. Navy 5-Year Warfare Ranges Now in Full Operation in Pacific, Atlantic & Gulf of Mexico

Many of these 5-Year Navy Warfare programs are to be implemented in the near future and twelve have already been approved by NOAA and are underway in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific Ocean areas including over land areas as new drones (carrying and testing weapons – U.S. Navy Boardman Range Complex), and surveillance systems are being tested over both land and ocean areas. [7-9]

Proposed Expansions of Existing Ranges & Proposed New Ranges

The U.S. Navy has just introduced two new very large 5-Year warfare ranges complexes in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans which will both need permits from NOAA to “take” marine mammals [8].  Almost all of our elected representatives are silent when it comes to opposing these disastrous experiments and programs. The major news media, with only two known exceptions, has elected not to cover this story leaving coverage to a few small newspapers located in remote areas.  One of the first television stations that has covered this issue is KTVU Channel 2 Investigation U.S. Navy Warfare Testing Program on May 18, 2009 [10]

No U.S. Congressional Hearing Held on this Issue & None Planned in the Future

Our U.S. Senators and members of the U.S. House have refused, so far, to postpone these disastrous “takings” or hold U.S. Congressional Hearings while pretending to be ocean environment friendly in their re-election speeches.  In addition to refusing to be interviewed by the press with regard to this issue (only a few exceptions), all of our elected officials have steadfastly refused to hold U.S. Congressional hearings in order to protect our marine mammals, fish, birds, endangered species, and human health.

National Cancer Institute Report:  “…The military is a major source of toxic occupational and environmental exposures that can increase cancer risk…”

The U.S. Congress, NOAA, and the U.S. Navy are ignoring Chapter 5 of the April 2010, Report of the NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE – PRESIDENT’S CANCER PANEL “Exposure to Contaminants and Other Hazards from Military Sources”[11].  We do know that the U.S. Navy and the Air Force will be using toxic chemicals and other contaminants in the Gulf of Mexico and other ocean areas. We can’t afford to go forward with new forms of ocean and land contamination from these 5-Year Warfare Testing Experiments until these issues are examined.  Hearings should be held by the U.S. Congress in order to protect human and ocean health and the health of our marine mammals and our coastal fishing industry.  It is time for all of us to step up and say “NO” to the U.S. Navy and Air Force War on our oceans.


With the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill and many areas still struggling with the aftermath, all we need now is to subject this area and the people who live there to another ecological disaster that began this year.  Expanding and initiating warfare testing in more areas of the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico, will also spell disaster for millions of marine mammals, and fish, and their habitats.  We do not elect to be the guinea pigs for these experiments or to have our oceans used for massive warfare testing.  Say “no” today…Ask for U.S. Congressional Hearings to protect human health and our marine mammals.  (Call Your Elected Officials in Washington, D.C. Toll Free:  (1866) 220-0044)

Rosalind Peterson

Agriculture Defense Coalition

Post Office Box 499

Redwood Valley, CA 95470

(707) 485-7520



Website for more U.S. Navy & Air Force Warfare Testing information in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic & Pacific.  All documents, letters, and other information are located on the website below. Visit these links for the latest in Maps and Government Documents on U.S. Navy Warfare Testing:

1,         USA TODAY News:  “Navy Plans Could Affect More Marine Mammals” August 5, 2010

2,         Many U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, Environmental Impact Statements, U.S. Congressional Letters, and NOAA Documents regarding these 5-Year Warfare Testing programs are located on the following website:

3,         NOAA Definition of “TAKE” and a listing of U.S. Navy & Air Force requests for permits to “take” marine mammals in the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico.

4,         NOAA Current Incidental “Take” Permit Requests & Authorizations – NOAA Website:

5,         Eglin Air Force Base’s NEODS Training Operations LOA to NOAA – Gulf of Mexico:

6,         Navy’s Gulf of Mexico Range Complex Training Exercises LOA Application & NOAA Approval:

NOAA issued LOA for the U.S. Navy to take Marine Mammals in the Gulf of Mexico on March 17, 2011:

Annual Range Complex Reports-Atlantic Ranges 2011 and 2012:

Partial Listing of Toxic Chemicals of the hundreds used in Navy Ranges:  Depleted Uranium, Red & White Phosphorus, Chaff (Aluminum Coated Fiberglass Particles), Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Manganese, Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, Naphthalene, Barium Chromate, Hydrogen Cyanide, Potassium Perchlorate, Jet & Rocket Fuel Emissions, Titanium Compounds…and more.

7,  U.S. Federal Register – November 15, 2011 – Listing of All Twelve Approved U.S. Navy & Air Force 5- Year Warfare Testing Ranges:

Between January 2009 and May 2011, pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), (NOAA) NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service)  issued 5-year warfare testing final regulations to govern the taking of marine mammals incidental to Navy training and associated activities conducted in:

  • Hawaii Range Complex (HRC)
  • Southern California (SOCAL) Range Complex    Southern California Range Complex EIS/OEIS
  • Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar Training Range
  • Sonar Training (AFAST) Study Area
  • Jacksonville (JAX) Range Complex
  • Virginia Capes (VACAPES) Range Complex
  • Cherry Point (CHPT) Range Complex
  • Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD)
  • Mariana Islands Range Complex (MIRC)
  • Northwest Training Range Complex (NWTRC – Northern California, Oregon, Washington & Idaho
  • Keyport Range Complex (NAVSEA NUWC)

Gulf of Mexico Range Complex Project Documents:

  • Gulf of Alaska Temporary Maritime Activities Area (GOA TMAA).
  • Additionally, in February 2009, pursuant to the MMPA, NMFS issued 5-year regulations to govern the taking of marine mammals incidental to U.S. Air Force (USAF) space vehicle and test flight activities from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB).
  • U.S. Navy East Coast LOA May 2008:

8,         U.S. NAVY is expanding or adding new 5-Year Warfare testing ranges at a staggering rate in the Pacific, Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico:

A)   Proposed New U.S. Navy 5-Year Warfare Testing Range Expansion include the NWTRC and      the Alaska Range Complexes:

The U.S. Navy has introduced two new very large 5-Year warfare ranges complexes in the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans which will both need permits from NOAA to “take” marine mammals:

B)   The one in the Pacific Ocean will connect the area between the ongoing Hawaii warfare range complex and the Southern California warfare range complex. This new U.S. Navy 5-Year Warfare Hawaii-Southern California Range Complex Training & Testing Environmental Impact Statement Notice of Intent in the U.S. Federal Register on July 15, 2010 U.S. Navy Website:

C)   The new one in the Atlantic (U.S. Navy 5-Year Warfare Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing Complex/Range is even larger than the one in the Pacific… Notice of Intent in the U.S. Federal Register on July 15, 2010 – U.S. Navy Website:

9,     U.S. Navy Boardman Range Complex Proposed Drone Test Range Expansion:

10,       KTVU Channel 2 Oakland/San Francisco Report on the Northern California 5-Year Warfare Testing Experiments: