A team of Navy explosives experts are planning to detonate a two-pound mine beneath the waves in Crescent Harbor on May 24, according to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
The underwater explosion will be part of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1 training planned for May 17-25 on North Whidbey, the base reported. It will occur in the Seaplane Base Survival Training Area and the Crescent Harbor Operations Area.
The explosives training is “pretty routine” and has historically occurred in Crescent Harbor, although it didn’t happen last year, according to Mike Welding, base public affairs officer. The Navy is authorized to conduct up to six such events a year.
The training is needed as part of the unit’s certification for deployment and is in accordance with established military training and readiness requirements.
All actual demolition operations will occur during daylight hours.
During the mine countermeasure training, the Navy will implement numerous measures to protect people, marine mammals and seabirds in the area. The Coast Guard will issue a “notice to mariners,” the base reported. A safety perimeter will be established to ensure people and protected wildlife are not in the area.
“The participating unit will have observers in at least one boat in the water to conduct this monitoring while we will provide two environmental monitoring boats,” Welding wrote.
The training activity will be curtailed if marine mammals or seabirds are in the area.
Fish kills are possible from the underwater explosion, but in the past the only species to die in the exercise were foraging fish, not salmon or other protected species, according to the base.
Whidbey Environment-al Action Network isn’t thrilled with the plans.
“Declarations that there will be no adverse environmental impacts are always suspect,” WEAN member Marianne Edain wrote in a comment to the newspaper. “I’m wondering what our orcas think of underwater explosions.”
According to the Navy, EOD technicians are experts in most conventional and unconventional explosives and are called upon to securely dispose of any type of ordnance. They also investigate and demolish natural and man-made underwater obstructions and prepare coastal regions for amphibious landings.