Mission of the U.S. Navy

To maintain, train, and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas.

Importance of the Study Area

Navy training and testing areas within the Study Area provide a safe and realistic environment for training Sailors and testing systems. The proximity of these areas to naval homeports allows for:

  • Greater efficiencies during training and testing
  • Shorter transit times
  • Reduced fuel use, cost, and emissions
  • Reduced wear and tear on vessels, submarines, and aircraft
  • Increased safety with closer proximity to airfields and medical facilities on land
  • Access to established at-sea and shore training and testing infrastructure, such as instrumented ranges
  • Maximizing Sailors' training time and reducing time away from their families

Navy Training and Testing in the HSTT Study Area

For more than 240 years, the U.S. Navy has been operating on, over, and within the world’s oceans. These waters are the home and workplace of America’s Sailors.

The Navy’s mission is to maintain, train, and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas. Sailors must be ready to respond to many different situations, in varied settings, often under crisis conditions. From large-scale conflict to maritime security to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, Sailors must be fully trained and prepared to perform these various and demanding duties at a moment’s notice.

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Navy is using best available science and methods of analysis to assess the potential environmental impacts associated with conducting naval training and testing activities within the HSTT EIS/OEIS Study Area including activities that involve the use of active sonar and explosives. Most of these training and testing activities have been previously analyzed and authorized under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and are similar to the types of activities that have been occurring in the Study Area for decades. Throughout the NEPA process, the Navy invited the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to participate as a cooperating agency in preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS).


Importance of Realistic Training and Testing

Navy Sailors and other military service members must be ready to respond to many different situations when called upon. The skills needed to achieve military readiness are challenging to master and require constant practice. Training must be diverse and as realistic as possible to prepare Sailors for what they will experience in real-world situations to ensure their success and survival. While simulators provide early skill repetition at the basic operator level and enhance teamwork, there is no substitute for live training in a real-world environment. The Study Area provides a range of realistic training environments and sufficient air and sea space necessary for safety and mission success.

Continued military readiness also requires providing Navy personnel with the military assets necessary to support their missions, thus giving them a technological edge over potential adversaries. Equipment and systems must be tested before use by Sailors during deployment. Systems are tested in varying marine environments, such as differing water depths, seafloor types, salinity levels, and other ocean conditions, as well as replicated warfighting environments, to ensure accuracy and safety. The Study Area provides the air and sea space and infrastructure necessary to conduct Navy research, development, testing, and evaluation activities (“testing activities”) to ensure vessels, aircraft, and weapons systems operate as intended.

Navy Training in the HSTT Study Area

The Navy must maintain a rigorous, comprehensive training regimen to ensure ships are ready to deploy on schedule and Sailors are prepared to carry out their duties as required. Sailors participate in four levels of at-sea training, from learning basic skills to working alongside other military services. The Draft EIS/OEIS analysis includes various levels of training:

  • Basic-level training consists of individuals, small groups of personnel, or a single crew (ship, submarine, or aircraft) training on its own.
  • Advanced-level training hones tactics, techniques, and procedures with other units for mission-specific training.
  • Integrated training combines individual units and staffs into strike groups or other combined-arms forces, resulting in deployment certification.
  • Sustainment training allows these forces to maintain their highest level of readiness and proficiency.

Navy Testing in the HSTT Study Area

Testing activities conducted in the Study Area are critical for maintaining readiness. To maintain an edge over potential adversaries, Sailors must have access to technologically advanced vessels, aircraft, and weapons systems. The Department of Defense continually researches and develops new technologies to ensure Sailors can counter new and emerging threats. These technologies must be tested and evaluated before use by Sailors during deployment. Testing may include:

  • Basic and applied scientific research and technology development
  • Testing, evaluation, and maintenance of sensors and systems, such as missiles, torpedoes, radar, active and passive sonar systems, vessels, submarines, and aircraft
  • Acquisition of technologically advanced vessels, aircraft, and systems to support Navy missions

Tactical Skills Training

Training activities in the Study Area provide Sailors with the opportunity to learn and practice skills they need to operate machinery or weapons systems. These activities provide realistic experience and include:

  • Operating aircraft, ships, and submarines
  • Firing weapons on targets
  • Detecting and locating submarines
  • Finding and removing in-water practice mines and other explosive ordnance disposal
  • Practicing vessel visit, board, search, and seizure