Navy: SEALs could train on Peninsula sites, but idea in 'beginning planning stages'

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES — Marinas and parks in Clallam and Jefferson counties could be included in a staging area for the Navy's special forces SEAL teams.

But action won't begin Thursday, as suggested Monday by the website www.truthout.org, a Navy spokeswoman said.

“As far as I know, everything is in the very, very beginning planning stages, period,” Navy Region Northwest spokeswoman Sheila Murray said Tuesday.

“There has been no decision made on anything.

“Everything is speculation at this point.”

She referred further inquiries to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mark Walton, media officer for Navy Special Warfare Command in San Diego.

Walton did not return repeated calls for comment Tuesday.

The website www.truthout.org published two Navy documents with a story Monday titled “Proposed [Naval Special Warfare] Training Within the Pacific North West.”

An overall training request said 68 training sites “more or less are requested” in the Puget Sound, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and on the Washington coast, including Kitsap and Island counties — with most to be used two to eight times annually.

A training request specific to fiscal year 2016 listed 28 sites.

According to the fiscal year 2016 document, one training cycle would be from mid-January to mid-February 2016 and the second from mid-February through mid-April 2016.

According to the 2016 fiscal year document, the Navy was seeking “environmental and real estate support” for six new training areas in addition to 21 already granted and one in an environmental impact statement.

The 2016 Navy document listed Port Townsend Marina, Fort Flagler State Park, Indian Island, Port Ludlow, Mats Mats Bay, the Toandos Peninsula and Zelatched Point as training areas in Jefferson County.

The overall request also included Sequim Bay State Park in Clallam County and Port Hadlock Marina, Discovery Bay and Fort Worden, Fort Townsend and Dosewallips state parks in Jefferson County.

Environmental activist Connie Gallant of Quilcene, president of the board of the Olympic Forest Coalition, likened the proposal to the Navy's planned expansion of electronic warfare range activities over the Olympic Peninsula and noise-generating Navy jet flights emanating from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

“It really is all kind of connected,” she said.

“The Navy has tried to segment and say, 'Oh, this is Phase 1 and this is another phase,' but when you put it all together, everything is a whole and everything is affected,” Gallant said.

“We have no objection to training activities, but in areas that are targeted and have been set aside for recreation activities for the public, we just don't believe they should be happening in such areas.”

Even if training activities are not starting Thursday, Gallant still appreciated www.truthout.org publishing the Navy reports.

“At least we are aware and we can be more ready if they put out documents and so forth,” she said.

According to the Navy documents, training events would range between two and 72 hours, be water- and land-based, and would not include live-fire weapons.

Maximum 20-man teams would conduct “simulated actions against a threat or enemy with the confines of a specified area or building.”

No property damage would occur, and instructors and support staff would conduct cleanup, the document said.

Up to 10 personnel would be responsible for the safety and oversight of personnel conducting training.

They will maintain a buffer preventing bystanders from entering into specific areas.

SEAL is an acronym for Sea, Air and Land.

View the Navy documents at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-navyseals.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 12. 2016 6:44PM
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