VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. –
The U.S. Navy's "Stewards of the Sea: Defending Freedom, Protecting the Environment" exhibit was showcased at Mount Trashmore Park April 22 as part of Earth Day celebrations.
The event, hosted by the Virginia Beach Clean Community Commission, focused on proper recycling, waste disposal, renewable energy solutions, and support for local green vendors, while also educating the public on environmental programs active in the area.
"Every year for Earth Day, the Stewards of the Sea program exhibits at Mount Trashmore and talks with the public about the proactive environmental stewardship performed by the Navy as we conduct our essential training and testing at sea," said Ted Brown, an environmental public affairs officer attached to U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF). "The Navy takes great care to avoid harming the maritime environment or marine species during daily operations."
Developed in 2013, the Stewards of the Sea program raises public awareness of the Navy's environmental stewardship efforts. In 2016, the program reached more than 500 thousand people during 80 events throughout the country.
"We showcase our exhibit at a variety of different events, including professional seminars, Fleet Weeks, and Navy Weeks, along with many activities here in Hampton Roads to include HarborFest, Neptune Festival, and the Oceana Air Show," added Brown. "Anytime we can get a large group of members of the public at an event provides a great opportunity for us to talk about Navy environment stewardship, and the great work that our Sailors are doing as they conduct the training that is necessary for them to perform their missions."
USFF developed an environmental outreach strategy about the Navy's environmental policy and efforts, which are designed to increase support for Navy training and basing activities among public, scientific and regulatory communities. The strategy includes a mobile museum exhibit that is currently at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, and an interactive permanent exhibit at Nauticus in Norfolk, Virginia, that highlights marine mammal research and shipboard environmental protection.
These exhibits feature steps the Navy takes to protect marine life through shipboard plastic waste management and the mitigation measures that are used to avoid harming marine species during training and testing activities at sea. The exhibits also explore the science of sound and the research the Navy conducts and funds to better understand the effects of manmade sound, like sonar, on marine animals.
Along with the Navy's environmental impact at sea, the Stewards of the Sea program has partnered with Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Ashore Environmental Program which focuses on the actions taking place aboard shore commands to lessen the impact the Navy has on the shore based environment.
"Like the sea based programs, the Navy also has some great shore programs," said Krista Parra the regional environmental coordination outreach program manager assigned to Navy Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic. "On the shore side we focus on compliance, from stormwater, air quality, and hazardous waste management to cultural and natural resources. We have some really incredible cultural resources on our installations such as archeological sites and historical buildings that we protect while meeting mission requirements."
The Navy's environmental outreach mission is to raise awareness of the Navy's need to train and provide a better understanding of the protective measures the Navy takes while training. The Navy's goal is for increased public awareness and confidence in the Navy's environmental stewardship efforts while it accomplishes national defense missions.