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Environmental | Field Innovations | Issues - Environmental | Legal | Science - Basic Research | USA | UUVs & USVs

Legal Battles Over US Navy’s Marine Mammal Protection Measures

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K-Dog: disco is worse(click to view full) The global proliferation of advanced, ultra-quiet diesel electric submarines has prompted a number of responses around the globe, from initial-stage efforts to mimic a shark’s senses in the USA, to the most obvious route of using more powerful active sonars. In Western countries, concerns have been expressed that these sonars may disorient or scare marine mammals, leading to decompression sickness or disruption of their biological sonar navigation systems. This has led to (unsuccessful) lawsuits aimed at curtailing submarine exercises by Western navies. In December 2007, USN Rear Adm. Lawrence S. Rice, director of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness, discussed some of the measures that are being taken to investigate the issue, and also mitigate any possible effects. In January 2008, a court battle erupted over undersea training off the coast of San Diego, CA, throwing the issue back into the limelight and potentially crippling Navy training before a dangerous deployment to the Persian Gulf. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ follow-on ruling was predictable, but in November 2008, the US Supreme Court issued its ruling. In light of that favorable ruling, a settlement has now been reached on the Navy’s terms. The Navy has […]

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