I will protect human life and risk marine life...
Ben Cates - Recreational Diver
September 7, 2001 at 02:11:21
Let me first off say I am not some conservative freak with no concern for our marine wildlife and habitats, and I strongly support testing any new technology with the potential to harm wildlife. HOWEVER, there is a point at which we must make a conscious decision regarding acceptable risk. While I do not wish to see marine life harmed, If presented the choice between marine life and human life, I will protect human life and risk marine life.
Let me explain why I believe (and I am not in any way involved with these projects so this is conjecture based on past experience) these new systems are being deployed.
Sonar, for the Navy, is not really an issue of finding rocks and things underwater to prevent accidents. That is what charts are for, and although sonar assists in this mission, it's real purpose is to detect submerged enemy threats.
In today's modern world, technology allows more and more small nations to afford relatively inexpensive diesel submarines. These vessels can operate almost noiselessly in near coastal waters. THE PRIMARY AREA OF OPERATIONS FOR THE US NAVY AND MARINE CORPS IS NEAR COASTAL WATERS. The threats presented by these vessels make the missions our young men and women in uniform face very great indeed. These special frequency sonars are needed to assist in the detection of very hard to detect submarines and mines. We are talking about vessels that have the capability to lye in wait and then pump four torpedoes into the hull of an amphibious transport carrying 2,000 marines and sailors, not to mention all the ecological harm that the sinking of a nuclear vessel will cause.
Do we need to test equipment and try - when possible - to make it harmless to the environment? YES. Is there a point at which we should say some risk or harm is acceptable to offset the danger to human lives? I believe the answer is also YES. And for those who will respond that we don't need a navy and Marine corps floating along other people's coasts, consider who it is who pays in blood so that you have the freedom to dive when and where you wish, as well as do other things like vote.