Puget Playground: Navy Announces Explosives, Sonar Training in Salish Sea

The Navy plans expanded use for our waters as a training ground.

Illustration by Tim Durning

Illustration by Tim Durning

SILVERDALE — The U.S. Navy has announced its decision for use of sonar and explosives for training and testing in the Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Behm Canal in southeast Alaska.

The Navy announced this month that officials had signed a record of decision to go with its preferred alternative — Alternative 1 — which includes new training exercises every other year off the North Olympic Peninsula coast and mine warfare exercises every year in the Puget Sound in support of homeland defense.

It also would include the testing of undersea systems in Puget Sound, testing activities in the Carr Inlet between Key Peninsula and Gig Harbor Peninsula, pier-side sonar maintenance and testing, sea trials as part of ship overhauls and the elimination of sinking exercises in all Pacific Northwest areas.

In December, the Navy had issued a supplement to the draft document that included an updated requirement for increased use of sonobuoys during training in the Northwest Training Range Complex.

The training zone includes areas off the North Olympic Peninsula’s Pacific Coast — including the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary — off Indian Island and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

In commenting on the draft statement, the public expressed the greatest number of concerns — 173 — about the use of sound and sonar devices, the Navy said.

Among the areas the environmental impact statement for the proposal looked at was the effects on marine animals from the training and testing.

The Navy anticipates that neither the use of sonar, other acoustic sources or explosives will cause marine mammal stranding or deaths and that other sounds from training and testing activities would only cause minor temporary changes in the behavior of marine mammals.

The Navy will conduct pre-event planning and training and consult with biologists during maritime homeland defense and security mine countermeasure integrated exercises in the Puget Sound, officials said.

For small boat attack gunnery exercises in and around Naval Station Everett, Naval Base Kitsap Bangor or Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton in Puget Sound, the Navy also will work with biologists to determine the extent of marine mammals that might be present in the area.

Training and testing in inland waters could temporarily impede tribal access to portions of their usual fishing grounds, though the Navy expects disruptions to be infrequent.

The Navy says training and testing will not alter fish or other marine species population levels or the availability of resources for tribal use in the offshore, inland waters and Western Behm Canal.

See also: As Navy Expands Training, Some Residents Feel Left in the Wake


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

King County approves emergency grant after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Washington is expecting an influx of people seeking abortions from out of state.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Des Moines Police arrest murder suspect in Kent | Update

Medical examiner identifies body found June 20 in Duwamish River

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

File photo
Fireworks ban takes effect this year in unincorporated King County

The new law does not extend to cities, which each have their own regulations around fireworks.

A semiautomatic handgun with a safety cable lock that prevents loading ammunition. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Large-capacity ammo magazine sales ban starts soon in Washington

Starting July 1, a 10-round capacity becomes the limit for sales. Meanwhile, “there is a rush on magazine purchasing.”

At Dash Point on June 16, 2022. Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
All that the tides reveal: Puget Sound’s hidden intertidal world

Exploring King County beaches during the lowest tide in the last 13 years.

Most Read