JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Local Jacksonville residents attended the Navy's public hearing for sonar use held at the Florida Community College at Jacksonville South Campus, March 18.
On Feb. 15, the Department of the Navy filed the Atlantic Fleet Active Sonar Training (AFAST) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)/Draft Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (DOEIS) with the Environmental Protection Agency. Subsequently, six hearings at various places up and down the East Coast were held to gather oral and written comments from citizens concerned with the Navy's use of sonar.
Attendees wishing to address the issue were allotted three minutes of speaking time during the hearing. Those who are interested in making longer statements can submit their comments in writing and can do so by March 31, when the statement will become part of the official record.
"Having the public involved is part of the National Environmental Policy Act requirements," said Jene Nissen, U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, AFAST project manager. "It's important, so the public understands the analysis that we've conducted and understands the result that we came up with and also has the ability to have input in the final analysis so that they're an integral piece of this project."
The AFAST DEIS/DOEIS will evaluate the possible environmental effects of mid-range and high-range active sonar and proposes four different options for the Navy's execution of sonar training.
Alternative one proposes fixed sonar training areas that would be available for use year-round; alternative two also proposes designated sonar areas, but with the possibility that the areas would be adjusted seasonally to minimize environmental impact. Alternative three assigns designated areas of increased awareness where sonar use would not be conducted and alternative four proposes no change to the current course of action.
This impact analysis of the Navy's use of sonar has been ongoing for about two years and will be completed in just less than a year.
"We're hoping the public gets a better understanding of the Navy's requirements to do anti-submarine warfare training; why we need it," said Capt. Charles Wydler, commanding officer, Afloat Training Group in Norfolk. "We have to protect not only our national assets, but our environment also."
For more news from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, visit www.navy.mil/local/nasjax/.