Department of the Navy
Notice of Public Comment Period for Programmatic Environmental Assessment/Overseas Environmental Assessment for Undersea Warfare Exercise within the Hawaii Range Complex
SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq.) as implemented by the Council on Environmental Quality regulations (40 CFR §§ 1500-1508), Department of the Navy Procedures for Implementing NEPA (32 C.F.R. § 775), and Executive Order 12114, Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions, the Department of the Navy (Navy) prepared a Programmatic Environmental Assessment/Overseas Environmental Assessment (EA/OEA) for the Undersea Warfare Exercise (USWEX) within the Hawaii Range Complex to be conducted over a two year period from January 2007 through January 2009. On January 24, 2007, the Navy issued the EA/OEA and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the USWEX.
USWEX is an advanced Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Exercise proposed to be conducted by the U.S. Navys Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESGs) while in transit from the west coast of the United States to the western Pacific Ocean. CSGs and ESGs that deploy from the west coast of the United States will experience realistic submarine combat conditions and assess submarine warfare training postures in the Hawaii Range Complex prior to their deployment to a theater of operations. Hawaii Range Complex training areas, test ranges, and ocean operating areas would be used to fully support the Fleet Readiness Training Plan.
ASW training conducted during a USWEX includes ships, submarines, aircraft, non-explosive exercise weapons, and other training systems and devices. When mid-frequency active sonar is used during the exercise, the Navy will comply with 29 individual marine mammal mitigation measures. These measures were developed in coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service and are required as a condition of the National Defense Exemption from the requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act issued by the Secretary of Defense in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce. During a typical USWEX, embarked aircraft will also be conducting training prior to deployment to the western Pacific Ocean. Fixed-wing aircraft will fly sorties to Pohakuloa Training Area on the Island of Hawaii, and rotary aircraft will fly sorties to Kaula located off the coast of Kauai. Amphibious landings could be conducted at the Pacific Missile Range Facility or at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows for some ESG USWEXs.
Subsequent to the issuance of the EA/OEA and FONSI for the USWEX, the Navy determined that it should update the EA/OEA with clarifications to the Coastal Zone Management Act section, request comments from the public on the EA/OEA and, in light of any comments received, make any appropriate clarifications or revisions to the EA/OEA. The Navy will then reconsider whether to issue a FONSI and will issue a new decision before any further exercises are undertaken.
The USWEX Programmatic EA/OEA is available at www.govsupport.us/uswex, or for review at the following locations:
Wailuku Public Library
251 High Street
Wailuku, Hawaii 96793
Hilo Public Library
300 Waianuenue Avenue
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Hawaii State Library
Hawaii and Pacific
Section Document Unit
478 South King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813-2901
Lihue Public Library
4344 Hardy Street
Lihue, Hawaii 96766
The Navy has established a 21 day public comment period, ending on October 5, 2007. All comments must be received in writing at the below address by October 5th to ensure they are adequately considered in the analysis of this EA/OEA. Comments postmarked by October 5, 2007 but received after that date will be deemed late, and may not be able to be considered by the Navy. Public comments should be sent to: Commander, US Pacific Fleet, Attention: Fleet Environmental Officer, Building 251, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii 96860. Additionally, comments may be submitted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(SB05531809 9/14, 9/15, 9/16/07)
Department of the Navy