US Navy weapons testing program could seriously harm marine mammals

The US Navy’s weapons testing could cause significant harm to many marine life, including seals, humpback whales, and gray whales, officials said.

The US Navy’s weapons testing program has faced harsh criticism from the Governor of Washington and other officials. In their opinion, the program is associated with potential harm to animals living in the waters of the state. Some of them, in particular killer whales, are endangered.

The planned military exercises include a wide variety of operations. These include testing torpedoes, firing shells from naval guns, using underwater drones, exploding bombs at sea, and so on. Among the complexes that will be tested is the new Hyper Velocity Projectile projectile. This is a unified artillery projectile, which is distinguished by its high flight speed and long-range.

The seven-year program starts in November and will take place across a wide area from northern California to Alaska, including Puget Sound and the Washington coastline.



The program focuses on killer whales, but many other marine mammals will be exposed to so-called A-level risks, which cover a wide range of ecosystem disruptions and can cause harm, including death. Southern ocean dwellers will be affected by level B risks, which can interfere with hunting, feeding, communication, and reproduction.

Last December, the US Navy raised its estimate of the number of cases in which southern ocean dwellers would be exposed to B-level risks from twice a year to 51 times. It is estimated that all mammalian species in Washington’s coastal waters, from seals to humpbacks and gray whales, may face level B risks in nearly two million cases during the program.

Officials want the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to revise its assessment of the effects of weapons testing on animals. There is no talk of complete safety, but experts are confident that the risk can be minimized.

Earlier, we recall, scientists came to the conclusion that the explosions of nuclear bombs carried out by the United States and the USSR in the middle of the last century significantly changed the weather in places that are many thousands of kilometers away from nuclear test sites. Before that, researchers found that the disguise of the largest Nazi warship “poisoned” Norway.