U.S. Navy Plans for Special Operations Training in Maui County (and beyond)
The U.S. Navy in its practice for war has a history in Maui County. Among other actions, the Navy used our eighth largest Hawaiian island, Kaho’olawe, a place sacred to Hawaiians, for target practice. Starting in 1941, Kaho’olawe was transformed into a bombing range with ship-to-shore bombardment and later with American submarines testing torpedoes by firing them at shoreline cliffs. They even simulated the blast effects of nuclear weapons on shipboard weapon systems. Although Kaho’olawe is about six miles from Maui, our island windows shook at the bombing impacts. During the Navy testing and practice, a few of the torpedoes missed – and landed on Maui!
Despite decades of protest, the Navy continued the bombings until 1990! The results: a dead island where although over 9 million tons of debris and un-exploded ordinances have been removed, no one can live, no one can even visit without getting special permission because it is still too dangerous to be there. I can see Kaho’olawe from the deck of my house. The Navy spent millions to clean it up, but there are still un-exploded Navy bombs there; I’m not likely ever to go there.
The U.S. Navy has a new plan. According to the January 4, 2019 edition of “The Maui News,” the Navy says, “[T]here will be no live-fire or amphibious assault craft and aircraft landings as part of their proposed exercises around Maui County . . .The Navy is proposing nearshore water training in the county, which will include naval special operation personnel diving and swimming and launching and recovering small vehicles designed to operate underwater” (A 1).
Also, the Navy had said they would accept public comment until today (January 7) – but before the deadline, they announced they had decided to go ahead with their proposals!
What the Navy says in its plan to go ahead with training exercises is much more limited than what it puts forth as possibilities in the four huge volumes of its Hawaii-Southern California plan.
A Navy training area site on Maui looks close to the Kihei Canoe Club, Maui Canoe Club, the Pinks, the Kihei Youth Center, many homes, townhouses, vacation condos, and the longest uninterrupted white sand beach in our state. Also nearby are Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (the only U.S. sanctuary dedicated to the protection of humpback whales and their marine environment); the critically endangered hawksbill turtles nest along these beaches.
Images below are from the Navy’s proposal on display at our Kahului Public Library:
Report and images from <http://go.usa.gov/xUnDC>
Please join me and many others in Hawaii (and beyond); say NO to U.S. Navy practice for war — above, on, and below our beautiful ocean waters, off shore, near shore, and on land!
Instead, the U.S. Navy could practice peace. Because of the changing climate and the resulting weather related impacts, the Navy could be sending out forces for training and rescue and rebuilding. They could do more missions of real search and rescue: people need help in Indonesia, Saipan . . . California. Flint, Michigan could have all its corroded water pipes replaced. The infrastructure needs in the U.S. are endless. Our military personnel could be learning useful and welcomed skills.
If you live on Maui, have visited here, or want to come some day, let your voice be heard. If you care about humpback whales, Hawaiian monk seals, endangered marine life, coral, let your voice be heard. Our U.S. military could be instruments of peace.
If it is still January 7, 2019, where you are, please let the U.S. Navy know how you feel by sending an email to <NFPAC-RECEIVE@navy.mil>.
Then, any time, please email Hawaii Governor David Y. Ige at <https://governor.hawaii.gov/>. Whether you live here or not, he needs to know what you think.
We live in a very special place of Hawaiian aloha and beauty. We hope you find it that way when you come to visit.
In Peace & Aloha, Renée