tries that are on less-than-friendly terms with the United
States warrants an increase in sonar training and protection of the thousands of U.S. Sailors who traverse the seas.
“The unfortunate truth is that we sold our soul in
the 1990s. The Soviets went home and we forgot all
about sonar. We laid up the gear and entered the Dark
Ages of anti-submarine warfare. But the other guys
didn’t and they, in fact, increased production,” said
Cmdr. Dan Uhls, Mitscher commanding officer.
Training a qualified sonar technician takes years,
and court restrictions further hamper already rare
opportunities for training, Navy officials say.
Rice said training restrictions in Hawaii caused one
ship of five in a carrier strike group to deploy to the
Far East untrained.
“The screen commander was faced with deciding
whether all the crews should get half the training or
one of the five not get any. He chose the lesser of two
evils,” Rice said.
Environmentalists say the Navy can find a balance
between training and environmental protection. They
argue active sonar is inefficient, as it gives away the
source location, and maintain the service should invest
in new technologies for submarine detection. They
also recommend increased use of simulators for training and would like the service to avoid training repeatedly in the same areas — especially those teeming with
“We accept that mid-frequency sonar is an important technology for the Navy and for the detection of
submarines. The question is how should the Navy conduct its training, and that’s where I think there’s room
for improvement,” Jasny said.
Certainly, there is a need for more research, both
“There is evidence that in certain circumstances it
can contribute to their stranding and that’s why we’re
spending so much, to figure out what that mechanism
is so we don’t do it,” Rice said.
“We think it’s great that the Navy is funding the science of marine mammals. But research is not a substitute for reducing harm in accordance with the law …
that research has to be coupled with meaningful mitigation,” Jasny said. ■
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