On Nov. 19, I had the opportunity to hear the U.S. Navy’s presentation on why they should be allowed to use 29 Washington State Parks, including those on Whidbey Island, for military training of Navy SEALs.
They would approach the parks on Whidbey by water, using mini electric submersibles, in teams of eight to 12 personnel. This could happen anytime during the year, day or night. They would be carrying lifelike fake weapons. The goal is to land, fade into the surroundings undetected and observe the area, including the people using the parks, for one to two days.
They call it “clandestine approach and surveillance” training.
I’m a six-year military veteran and know the need for training. In fact, the last two years of my service were here in Puget Sound. I trained other military personnel in the use of watercraft, how to make landings and how to read the tides, underwater terrain and currents of this area. We were based on Indian Island, across from Port Townsend.
Our current military owns 46 miles of waterfront property; we used it in our training along with a couple remote islands that are only accessible by water. There are nine of these islands within easy travel time of North Whidbey. You have to ask yourself, Why do they need to use the parks that people are using? Why not train to observe other trained military personnel instead of public citizens? The challenge would be more rigorous.
When Washington state residents and visitors are choosing where to hike, boat and camp, will they be concerned about their safety and privacy and choose to spend their time and dollars elsewhere?
The elephant in the room is, if this training, planned for state parks that allow day and overnight use, is safe for the public, why does the Navy disavow all liability for injury to the public or any damage to the parks?
If the public suffered any injury or damage to their property, their only recourse would be to sue the federal government.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will be making a decision on this permit just after the end of 2020. The commission needs to hear from you. You can email to email@example.com
Please join me in asking them to say “no” to this request.
Gerald (Jerry) Hill