Navy Seeks More Washington State Parks for SEAL Training – Whining Continues

By Faye Higbee

The Navy currently utilizes five Washington State Parks along the coastline for SEAL training with permits from the State Parks and Recreation Department. They want to expand their use to 29 parks. But Washington State  has yet to review the request and may or may not grant permission. Why, you ask? Because of the state tradition of  citizen activism and environmentalists.

The Navy was granted access in 2014 to Illahee in Bremerton, Scenic Beach in Seabeck, Blake Island in South Kitsap and Fort Flagler and Mystery Bay on Marrowstone Island. They want to increase their training areas.

“That doesn’t mean that those activities are going to happen … We would would be concerned about anything that would affect the visitor’s experience, environment and safety.” Virginia Painter, WA State Parks and Rec spokesperson

The Navy has not yet submitted a proposal for consideration to the state. An Environmental Assessment has already been conducted and may be found at this link. The Navy has talked about expanding their training areas for several years.

“The Navy has conducted training in the Pacific Northwest for more than 70 years, including naval special operations training for the past 30 years.  Puget Sound, including Hood Canal, and the southwestern Washington coast, offer unique conditions and varied coastal conditions which create opportunities for realistic and challenging special operations training in a safe, sheltered, cold-water environment.” US Navy

US Navy proposal

The Seattle Times reported on March 12, 2018

“In addition to the parks, the Navy is considering private lands as well as other public sites such as the Port of Anacortes, a Tacoma wastewater plant and a closed prison on McNeil Island.

This is part of a broader push in recent years by the Navy and Army to increase the scope of training activities in Washington, an effort that has stirred criticism in a state with a tradition of environmental and citizen activism.

The Navy wants use of the areas for stealth training…the whole idea of which is not to be seen.

The Kitsap Sun reported in April of 2017,

The training would consist of diving and swimming; inserting and extracting trainees and equipment using small watercraft; launching and recovering small watercraft; using unmanned underwater vehicles; moving on foot over the beach; hiking to an observation point and using observation techniques while remaining hidden; clearing areas and structures using paint pellets as simulated munitions; conducting high-angle climbing; and using small, unmanned aircraft systems.

It would not include the use of live-fire ammunition, explosive demolitions, manned air operations, off-road driving, vegetation cutting, digging, tree climbing or the building of campfires or infrastructure.

Washington state is a bastion of liberal activism, but they also have a plethora of military bases across the length and breadth of the state.

Environmental groups believe they have plenty of space to train and don’t need any more.

In May of 2017, the “Citizens of Ebey Reserve” wrote,

“We are concerned that Navy SEALs using submersibles, small craft, underwater drones, unmanned aircraft and moving on foot over beaches with nesting birds, hiding in fragile undergrowth and participating in simulated actions against enemies using paint pellets risks harming plant, bird and animal habitats and diminishing the sense of spiritual sanctuary people have always found in our parks.” 

That environmental group is also worried about ordinary citizens encountering the SEAL teams while training, or PTSD veterans that might assume the worst if they see a contingent of SEALs “with guns.”

Featured image: US Navy Photo