Proposed Action

Proposed training and testing activities are similar to those that have occurred in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing EIS/OEIS Study Area for decades.

The EIS/OEIS supports the issuance of federal regulatory permits and authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

The Navy’s Proposed Action is to conduct training and testing activities within the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing EIS/OEIS Study Area. These activities include the use of active sonar and explosives while employing marine species protective mitigation measures. Proposed training and testing activities are similar to the types of activities that have occurred in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing EIS/OEIS Study Area for decades and are generally consistent with those analyzed in the 2013 Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing Final EIS/OEIS and earlier environmental planning documents.

The purpose of the Proposed Action is to maintain a ready force, which is necessary for the Navy to be able to accomplish its congressionally mandated mission under Title 10 U.S. Code Section 5062. That Navy mission is to:

Maintain, train, and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas.

To achieve and maintain military readiness, the Navy proposes to:

  • Conduct training and testing activities at levels required to support Navy military readiness requirements beginning in 2018; and
  • Accommodate evolving mission requirements, including those resulting from the development, testing, and introduction of new vessels, aircraft, and weapons systems into the fleet.

The type and level of activities included in the Proposed Action account for fluctuations in training and testing to be able to meet evolving or emergent requirements.

Realistic training and testing are crucial for military readiness, personnel safety, and national defense.

Navy Sailors and other military service members must be ready to respond to many different situations when called upon. The skills needed to achieve readiness are challenging to master and require constant practice. Training must be diverse and as realistic as possible to fully prepare Sailors for what they will experience in real-world situations and to ensure their success and survival.

Equipment and systems must be tested before use by Sailors during deployment. Systems are tested in varying marine environments, such as differing water depths, seafloor types, salinity levels, and other ocean conditions, as well as replicated warfighting environments, to ensure accuracy and safety.

While simulators provide early skill repetition at the basic operator level and enhance teamwork, there is no substitute for live training and testing in a real-world environment.

Sonar TechnicianDefense against enemy submarines is a top priority for the Navy. To detect and counter potential hostile submarines, the Navy uses both passive and active sonar. Torpedoes, in-water mines, and quieter submarines are true threats to global commerce, national security, and the safety of Sailors. Active sonar is the most effective method of detecting these threats.

Sonar proficiency is a complex and perishable skill that requires regular, hands-on training in realistic and diverse conditions, such as those provided in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing EIS/OEIS Study Area. Lack of realistic training will jeopardize the lives of Sailors in real-life combat situations.

Sonar

Submarines of the previous generation were noisy and could be detected with passive sonar before they came close enough to deploy short-range weapons against a vessel. Extremely quiet, difficult-to-detect, diesel-electric submarines can approach close enough to deploy long-range weapons before entering the passive sonar detection range of U.S. vessels. Active sonar has a longer detection range that is needed to allow Sailors to detect, identify, and track quieter, modern submarines before they are close enough to attack.

Training in a high-stress environment, including the use of and exposure to explosive ordnance, is necessary for Sailors to be fully prepared to respond to emergencies and national security threats, and to ensure their safety.

Testing with explosive ordnance is essential for ensuring systems function properly in the type of environment they will be used. To the extent possible, Sailors train and conduct tests using inert (non-explosive) practice munitions. Non-explosives, however, cannot completely replace training and testing in a live environment. Limited training and testing with in-water explosives occurs only in established operating areas, and the Navy issues notices to mariners and pilots to ensure public safety.

Using the most current and best available science and analytical methods, the Navy evaluated the potential environmental impacts associated with three alternatives:

No Action Alternative: No authorizations or permits would be issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Navy would not conduct the proposed training and testing activities in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing EIS/OEIS Study Area.

Alternative 1 (Preferred Alternative): The Navy would conduct military readiness training and testing activities, as necessary to meet current and future readiness requirements. The type and level of activities in Alternative 1 reflects a representative year to account for the natural fluctuation of training cycles and deployment schedules that generally limit the maximum level of training from occurring year after year in any five-year period.

Alternative 2:  This alternative includes new and ongoing training and testing activities to enable the Navy to meet the highest levels of required military readiness. Alternative 2 reflects the maximum number of training and testing activities that could occur within a given year, and assumes that the maximum level of activity would occur every year over any five-year period. Alternative 2 would allow for the greatest flexibility for the Navy to maintain readiness when considering potential changes in the national security environment, fluctuations in schedules, and anticipated demands.

For more information on the Proposed Action, alternatives, and types of training and testing activities, please see the project fact sheet booklet or the Draft EIS/OEIS.

The environmental review process includes:

  • Phase I: The Navy completed three environmental documents between 2008 and 2012, which included:
    • Hawaii Range Complex EIS/OEIS (2008)
    • Southern California Range Complex EIS/OEIS (2008)
    • Silver Strand Training Complex EIS (2012)
  • Phase II: The Navy consolidated these three Phase I environmental planning documents into the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing EIS/OEIS, completed with public input in 2013. In the Phase II Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing EIS/OEIS, the Navy re-evaluated impacts from ongoing training and testing activities and updated training and testing activities, occurring in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing EIS/OEIS Study Area from 2013 to 2018, based on changing requirements.
  • Phase III (Current Phase): The Navy is now analyzing both ongoing and newly proposed training and testing activities that would begin in 2018 in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing EIS/OEIS Study Area.

 

 

 

 

Training and testing activities proposed in the 2017 Draft EIS/OEIS are generally consistent with those activities analyzed in the 2013 Final EIS/OEIS and earlier environmental planning documents. Below are some of the differences between the two documents.

In the 2017 Draft EIS/OEIS, the Navy:

  • Includes a No Action Alternative in which Marine Mammal Protection Act authorization would not be issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service; therefore, proposed training and testing activities would not be conducted
  • Refines the analysis of anti-submarine warfare activities, resulting in reduced levels of active sonar and fewer hours of sources of underwater sound
  • Reduces the number of sinking exercises
  • Includes analyses of increases in training for maritime security operations, such as drug interdiction and anti-piracy operations
  • Includes analyses of increases in testing of some new vessels, aircraft, weapons systems, and unmanned vehicles, and decreases in other testing activities
  • Includes improved acoustic models, updated marine mammal and sea turtle densities, and updated marine species criteria and thresholds
  • Continues to use the most current and best available science and analytical methods
  • Reviews procedural mitigations, where appropriate, and considers additional geographic and/or temporal mitigations, where applicable