The Navy has announced a change in Gulf of Alaska training activities

An MH-60R Sea Hawk lands on the flight deck of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd while participating in Exercise Northern Edge 2019. Photo courtesy of Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder/US Navy

Navy officials have prepared a supplement to the Gulf of Alaska Navy’s December 2020 training plan known as Exercise Northern Edge.

The Friday, March 18 announcement noted that since the liberation of the Gulf of Alaska in December 2020 and the completion of Exercise Northern Edge 2021, the Navy has determined that the existing training area in the Gulf of Alaska , known as the Temporary Maritime Activities Zone, no longer provides sufficient space for realistic ship and aircraft maneuvers during training exercises.

The supplement proposes to include more space available for the maneuvering of ships and aircraft in the gulf and the addition of a new mitigation zone in the continental shelf and slope area of ​​the TMAA.

The supplement, which is open for public comment until May 2, updates the analysis of the 2020 Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement / Overseas Environmental Impact Statement, and will be used to develop an ES / OEIS final, officials said.

In its 2020 supplemental EIS/OEIS draft, the Navy proposes to continue periodic military training activities in the Gulf. The Navy is preparing additional EIS/OEIS to support the renewal of federal regulatory permits and authorizations required for these activities under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act, which expire in April 2022.

Proposed changes to the study area include adding airspace and seaspace to the west and south of the TMAA. This additional area is referred to as the Western Maneuvering Area and covers approximately 185,806 square nautical miles. The TMAA, which is approximately 42,146 square nautical miles, would remain unchanged and all activity involving active sonar and explosives would still occur in this area only.

Navy officials said they were not proposing a new or increased number of training activities in the WMA, only an expansion of the area the navy could use for ship and aircraft maneuvering purposes during the exercises. The number of ships, aircraft, current navigation hours, events and flight time remain the same. The use of sonar or explosives would not occur in the WMA.

Proposed changes to the study area include adding airspace and seaspace to the west and south of the TMAA. This additional area is called the West Maneuvering Area (WMA) and covers approximately 185,806 square nautical miles. The TMAA, which is approximately 42,146 square nautical miles, would remain unchanged and all activity involving active sonar and explosives would still occur in this area only.

Navy officials said they were not proposing a new or increased number of training activities in the WMA, only an expansion of the area the navy could use for ship and aircraft maneuvering purposes during the exercises. The number of ships, aircraft, current navigation hours, events and flight time remain the same. The use of sonar or explosives would not occur in the WMA.

Visit the project website at GOAEIS.com to download the supplement, view project information, and submit substantive comments online. Comments may also be submitted by mail to: Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Northwest, Attention: GOA Supplemental EIS/OEIS Project Manager, 1101 Tautog Circle, Suite 203, Silverdale, WA 98315-1101.


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Richard V. Johnson