Letter: Carrier landing practices critical to crew safety

Editor,

The July 2 letter to editor of the Whidbey News-Times, “Navy needs to find ‘appropriate’ practice location,” suggested the Navy neglected “basic humanity” by continuing landing practice during the recent record heat.

The Navy could not stop their landing practice. Mere days later, those aircrews’ very next runway would be an 800-foot landing area on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean.

More to the point, if school begins, there are COVID mandates, wildfire smoke, excessive heat or likely future comparable instances, activists seek a practice delay, cancellation or relocation as though this training is somehow arbitrary, easily transferable, or for convenience, and the Navy is uncaring and unreasonable.

It is not, on all counts.

Naval carrier aviation is the best in the world for managing exceptionally high risk and technical complexity, while experiencing extraordinarily rare failures.

OLF Coupeville is an indispensable aspect of this risk management and is the finest representative practice setting in our nation.

The letter also states, “It was the Navy that encroached on Central Whidbey …” The Navy has been here since WWII. Jets arrived in 1956 and Growlers are not the loudest since then. There have also been more than twice as many carrier-based jets, 216 in fact, than now.

Conversely, the courts recently ruled on an injunction concerning Growlers. Every single activist-associated declarant for this injunction either moved or retired to Whidbey since the area was zoned for noise.

It is not the Navy that is encroaching.

Additionally, from the letter, “the Navy cannot be a good neighbor.”

“Not a good neighbor” is a purposefully pejorative, boilerplate catchphrase. Whidbey jet activists wax and wane every couple of decades or so, but the Navy, their mission, personnel and families are great neighbors and some of the most vibrant members of our community, as they have been for many decades.

The Growlers, and the Prowlers before them, boasted a 100-perfect record of success at protecting our forces in combat is surpassed only by the record of dedication, volunteerism and commitment by those associated with Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

Since 1902, the Navy League of the United States is a nonpartisan, worldwide organization, dedicated to informing the American people about the importance of Sea Services and STEM to our national defense and economic prosperity.

Steve Bristow, spokesperson

Navy League

Oak Harbor

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