Vol. 2 No. 3 13JUL2000
Voice of the Dolphin
 
To NMFS on LFAS
POBox 1645 Pahoa, Hawai'I 96778 siriusinstitute@yahoo.com


Voice of the Dolphin
Vol. 2 No. 3 July 13, 2000
 
November 22, 1999
 
Sirius Institute to NMFS Re: Navy LFAS "Take" Permit
 
REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING
DEMAND FOR THE REJECTION OF THE NAVY PERMIT APPLICATION
 
 
Ms. Donna Wieting, Chief
Marine Mammal Conservation Division
Office of Protected Resources
National Marine Fisheries Service
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3226
FAX (301) 713-0376
 
Re: Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Take of Small Numbers of Marine Mammals by Harassment Incidental to Navy Operations of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System (SURTASS) Low-Frequency Active Sonar (LFA)
 
Dear Ms. Wieting:
 
Regarding the request of the US Navy for a "small take" exemption for its LFAS deployment.
 
The deployment by the US Navy of the LFAS is potentially a vast, sweeping threat to our oceans and perhaps the most significant single threat to ocean life that we have yet devised. It has the potential of harming or killing many species of whales, seals, turtles, and fish, as well as potentially changing ecological conditions of coastal, benthic, and reef ecosystems. The potential effects are so pervasive, so widely distributed, so massive, that any "small take" exemption is, on its face, ludicrous.
 
Therefore, we demand that this application be denied and full and open investigation into the LFAS and all its ramifications be begun by investigators free of Navy influence.
 
Because of its widespread effects over 80% of the world's oceans, it is proper that there be full review by the UN and other global regulatory bodies. This proposal goes beyond national boundaries and must be opened to full discussions by all peoples of the Earth, fully including the Cetaceans affected by it.
 
It is quite likely that LFAS can be considered an acoustic weapon, a weapon of mass destruction and a means of genocide of the Cetaceans and other creatures.
 
Our view is that the Cetaceans, who are conscious, sentient, with their own cultures and language, are, therefore, in fact, a "people", the "Cetacean Nations", and are as fully entitled to the rights and protection of the law as are any people on Earth.
 
The LFAS has the potential of decimating Cetaceans and humans in the water. Therefore, according to international laws and treaties, it may be a weapon of mass destruction and is, therefore, against the law. (Like the Trident submarine, recently ruled against the law in Scotland) Acoustic weapons are also outlawed by the Geneva Convention.
 
Given that the Cetaceans are accepted as a "people" it follows that NMFS, which treats them as "stocks" subject to sustainable "harvest" is promulgating the fiction that the Cetaceans are to be treated in the same category as fish, when in fact, they are the oldest and most intelligent sentient creatures on Earth and fully worthy of our protection and respect.
 
Any action by the NMFS or any other body to approve the LFAS or aid the Navy in its quest for "legal" approval must be considered, at best, ill-conceived, and a sign of willful ignorance on the part of regulators like NMFS. Should the Navy's application be approved on the basis of the documents submitted, with all their lies of omission and commission, then the NMFS and any other party to this travesty will be doing the bidding of the Navy.
 
NMFS will then have obviously submitted to pressure from the Navy. At worst, approval of this application will signal that NMFS has allowed a full and willing abrogation of NMFS fiduciary duty to uphold our laws. Perhaps this is a criminally negligent act, and signals the need and duty of our people to reverse and abrogate your decisions, reorganize the enforcement of the MMPA and other laws and remove those individuals responsible. If you approve the Navy's application, you are refusing to do your job, and in our view, are breaking the law.
 
Approval of the Navy application will signal NMFS abrogation of their sworn responsibility and duty to enforce the MMPA and other environmental regulations. Approval of the Navy application is, in my view, tantamount to being a full and willing accomplice to the Navy's criminally negligent acts intended to ramrod a strategic weapons system into deployment while lying and pretending that LFAS is merely a "research" project that is "safe" and with "negligible" impacts on our world's ecosystems.
 
Is NMFS going to cave in and let the Navy sweep all this under the rug and help them to placate all of us who see the reality of the profound impacts of LFAS? We are attempting to warn the planet as to what is happening.
 
Is NMFS going to help the Navy lie to the American people and the people of the world? Are you going to help the Navy damage the oceans further? To approve this application is a violation of your position in which it is mandatory that you enforce the laws of the United States. Defenses such as "the Navy ordered me to do it" are ruled out by the Nuremberg Accords.
 
In the United States, the military are servants of the people. By your actions, you seem to think it is the other way around.
 
Is this what you wish to tell your children and grandchildren you did with your lives? How will you answer them should the whale, seal, fish and other populations die off? How will you answer to Congress and to the American people?
 
"What happened to the whales, Daddy? Where are they? I thought it was your job to protect them? What happened to the fish? Why are we hungry? What happened to the reefs? What happened to all those people who used to make their living fishing?
 
"Oh, well, daughter, I did what the Navy thought best for the country, so I just let it pass. Well, we have a great defense against submarines, and the oceans are so much "cleaner" now that the fish and whales are gone. It's easier for the Navy to see their targets. They certainly "cleaned up" the oceans. So, I helped in that process." Is this what you want to have on your conscience when you go into eternity?
 
After all, for the Navy "Every day is Earth Day". (Their current motto) I think they should live up to that.
 
Many other commentators to this Navy application (e.g. NRDC, Dr. Lee Tepley, Dr. Marsha Green et al.) have clearly exposed the deploring lack of data and truthfulness of the Navy in its DEIS, its activities and documents regarding their proposed deployment of LFAS over 80% of the planet's oceans.
 
From a conservative point of view, and taking into account our abysmal and abyssal ignorance of our oceans and their inhabitants, and taking into account that fish, reefs, even plants, as well as marine mammals will be affected, the Navy's request to be allowed to "take" marine mammals must be denied.
 
In so doing, NMFS will protect 80% of the world's oceans and their inhabitants.
 
Obviously, the wide spread deployment of the LFAS can have disastrous effects on both the marine mammals and other species, including those we harvest for food. Those who fish, those who make their livings in and from the sea, divers in the water, whale watchers and other forms of ocean tourism... all can be changed and damaged by the death or disruption of our oceans that LFAS can accomplish.
 
I would like to address the strategic import of this project which, while one could speculate in the past, has now become public knowledge with the publication of the November, Scientific American article on "time reversed acoustics". I commend this article to you and all other evaluators of LFAS, because it shows the overall picture the Navy wishes to hide with their spin-information and public relations campaigns.
 
As is well known, the power of the United States is based on sea power, on control of the seas, and global projection of force. During the Cold War era, there has been the "triad" of defense, with strategic bombers, ballistic missiles, and the ballistic missile submarines. The bombers are mostly grounded, the effectiveness of the ballistic missiles now blunted by the technologies of the Strategic Defense Initiative. Now, the submarines are quieter, and the technology for hiding in the ocean continues to improve, threatening the effectiveness of the one remaining leg of the triad, the ballistic missile submarine force. Into this situation, one introduces the LFAS.
 
What has been ignored in the LFAS debate is that the system is a phased array device. What is now demonstrated by the Scientific American article is that the Navy is doing tests leading to a phase-conjugate device -- an amplifying, phase-conjugate, time reversed acoustic system. The difference between a LFAS detection device and a weapon is only a matter of the power employed.
 
The admitted power of the LFAS projector array is some 240 to 247 dB. Now, 235 dB is about 1000 watts of power. Three dB is roughly a power of ten increase. Therefore, as shown below, the power levels of one LFAS, 18 projector array range from a lowest level of 215dB to a high of some 247dB which corresponds to some 10 Megawatts of power, as seen from the calculations below.
 
Lowest Estimate: for One projector (which weighs some 50,000 lbs?) 215 dB maximum output reported.
 
Computing the intensity of 215dB:
 
235-215 = 20dB difference;
20/3 = 6 orders of magnitude difference =
a factor of 1 x 10^6 or 1,000,000 softer than 1000 Watts
or 1 x 10^3 Watts x 1 x 10^-6 = 1 x 10^-3 Watts =
1/1000th of a horsepower, roughly.
 
Medium Estimate: 240 dB maximum reported (for 18 projectors, in a linear array, vertical under the support ship) (From the Navy Draft EIS according to Dr. Lee Tepley)
 
Computing estimated intensity levels compared to 235dB:
 
240dB - 235dB = 5 dB
5/3 = 1.66 orders of magnitude
so this is an increase by a factor of say, 20 greater than the 1000 Watt level or about: 20 Kilowatts of energy
 
Highest Estimate: The highest reported thus far for estimated maximum power is: 247 dB: (from the Navy's application to NMFS according to Dr. Lee Tepley)
 
Computing the difference in intensity as compared to 235 dB:
247-235 = 12 dB difference
12dB/3dB per order of magnitude = 4 orders of magnitude greater than 235dB
 
or some 10,000 Kilowatts;
or about 7700 horsepower;
or 10,000,000 Watts;
or 10 Megawatts of acoustic power. This is a lot of power.
 
Added to this, the LFAS is deployed in a deep-water wave-guide channel that allows constructive addition of powers with reflection and refraction. Therefore, the power of the final device can be much greater than the power of any single source or array of sources.
 
Added to this, there is proposed to be some 3 to 30 such systems in the planned deployment, plus the systems of other NATO forces, plus whatever systems other nations develop to oppose US and NATO efforts. This amount of power is more sound energy than has ever been created in the ocean.
 
NMFS must reject the Navy argument that this amount of energy is "negligible", or safe.
 
It is also clear from the above that this system could be used as a powerful weapon against all targets in the water.
 
LFAS is, in short, a Strategic Defense system for the oceans. It may be capable of detecting and almost automatically destroying any target detected.
 
This is because, in addition to being a time-reversed, phase-conjugate system, it is capable of being an "amplifying" system, whose gain, or ultimate power is a matter of engineering and will.
 
Obviously, the Navy considers LFAS crucial to the defense of the Nation and the planet. It may be. As may be, it must still be subjected to open, public debate, just as nuclear weapons and the SDI were subjected to open public debate. The "fallout" of the LFAS system can be vast and devastating to our oceans.
 
Please check these figures with your advisors, as these estimates are "back of the envelope" figures that can be worse or better depending on many factors. What is relevant here is that our oceans are at great risk; our foods, our whales, our coastlines, are now hostage to LFAS. Ecosystems will be affected, fish killed, whales decimated, should this be allowed to continue.
 
Perhaps there are some accommodation and mitigation methods that can improve this situation. Because LFAS is strategic, the Navy will push hard for it. You, as an involved regulatory body, must decide, with knowledge and wisdom. We would suggest that the project is already more vast than your mandate, and as such, you should notify Congress and the UN that this is a matter for strategic, open and global concern.
 
Your wisdom and full consideration of the short and long term effects of LFAS is required. Pull the plug on the Navy LFAS now.
 
Again, we offer our cooperation, in whatever way, to protect and preserve our oceans and their inhabitants, especially, our old, wise, gentle helpers, our brothers and sisters of the sea, the conscious, sentient, large-brained Cetacea, the dolphins and the whales, who have ever been, and are, our friends.
 
 
Sincerely, in the Spirit of Aloha,
 
 
Michael T. Hyson, Ph.D.
Research Director, Co-Founder, Sirius Institute
Paradise Newland, Co-Founder, Sirius Institute
Puna, Hawai'I
 
(Note: this letter is amended in the calculation section above for increased clarity. The rest of the letter, our conclusions, and recommendations remain exactly the same as the original letter sent to NMFS)


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