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NEWS | June 30, 2009

Undersea Warfare Training Range Final OEIS/EIS Released

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Bleu Moore, U.S. Fleet Forces Public Affairs U.S. Fleet Forces Command

The Navy released a Final Overseas Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Statement (OEIS/EIS) that examined potential effects of an Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR) June 26.

The study published the results of an extensive environmental analysis associated with the establishment of an instrumented sonar training range off the East Coast of the United States for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training.

The preferred alternative identified in the EIS would locate a USWTR approximately 50 nautical miles offshore of northeastern Florida in the Jacksonville operating area. 

The Navy's use of sonar, and the ability to test and train with it, is critical to U.S. operational readiness and national defense. The Navy needs this range because it increasingly operates in littoral, or near-shore, environments. A major potential threat to Sailors and ships are very quiet diesel-electric submarines that operate in such waters. USWTR's proposed 500-square-nautical mile range would directly improve the readiness of Sailors who detect underwater threats by allowing them to train in shallow, littoral waters. 

ASW is a perishable skill that must be continually honed, both by the technicians who operate the sonar systems and the fleet assets that deploy the technology. Sailors must be ready to defend themselves and the nation on the first day of combat. Having an instrumented training range on the East Coast will ensure that Sailors can conduct realistic training in all the scenarios they may face in future combat operations.

"Having USWTR will provide a significant enhancement to our ASW training effectiveness," said Jene Nissen, environmental acoustics policy manager, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. "With an instrumented range a training event can be analyzed in real time and after the fact to determine what was done right and what was done wrong. From the information we can make corrections to the training, as well as our tactics and procedures to improve a ship, submarine or aircraft's ability to conduct ASW." 

The Final OEIS/EIS is available to the public online at http://projects.earthtech.com/uswtr/. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the secretary of the Navy or his designated representative will announce a Record of Decision in the Federal Register later this summer.