US Navy to Use Marine Mammals to Protect Base
News in Balance:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2009 -- The following news release made available Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Defense is the text of a statement regarding a decision on marine mammal use to protect Naval Base Kitsap:
The Navy announced today its decision to install a swimmer interdiction security system at Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) Bangor, Wash., that will employ teams of security personnel and specially-trained marine mammals to protect waterside assets and sailors. This action will enhance security capabilities to counter intruder threats from swimmers or divers and will be implemented in 2010.(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)
The use of marine mammals to protect sensitive waterside areas has been proven to be reliable and effective. The Navy’s bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions are uniquely qualified for underwater sentry duty, mine clearance, and object recovery because of their exceptional sensory and diving capabilities.
An environmental impact statement (EIS) evaluated potential effects of several factors on the Navy's dolphins and sea lions, including temperature, noise, water quality, toxins and the presence of other marine mammals in the NBK-Bangor environment. The EIS concluded that the Navy’s dolphins and sea lions are not expected to experience adverse environmentally-related effects from transfer to, and residence at, NBK-Bangor.
The Navy’s decision concludes a multi-year process involving operational assessments, technical analysis, and environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. In addition to addressing public concerns, the Navy also consulted with state and federal regulatory agencies, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Washington Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation.