BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Spanish Portuguese Caribbean
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Americas  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
US Navy sued over new sonars
USS John F Kennedy with supply ship and destroyer (pic: US Navy)
The US Navy says sonar use will be strictly controlled

A coalition of environmental groups led by the Natural Resources Defence Council is suing the US Navy and the National Marine Fisheries Service to prevent the deployment of a new, powerful sonar system.

The group filed a lawsuit in San Francisco, saying the system known as the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active Sonar (Surtass-LFA) threatens entire populations of marine mammals, such as whales, dolphins and seals.

Dead whale beached on Abaco Island in Bahamas, 15 March, 2000
Environmentalists said a Navy sonar led to the Bahamas beachings in 2000
The US Navy says the new sonar, developed at a cost of $300m, is essential to its anti-submarine warfare effort and that its extensive studies show that it has a negligible effect on wildlife.

The Navy's new sonar emits powerful low-frequency sound to detect submarines at great distances, as far away as 450 kilometres (280 miles).

The effect, say environmentalists, is to saturate huge areas of ocean with extremely loud and disruptive sound. This noise, they say, harms and even kills marine mammals such as whales, which use their own sonar systems for feeding, communication and navigation.

Navy gets go-ahead

The environmentalists say that powerful mid-range sonar, used by the Navy off the Bahamas two years ago, caused 16 whales to run aground. Eight of them died.

The Navy disputes those findings. It says that its own extensive research into low-frequency sonar shows that few, if any, marine mammals would be subject to harmful noise.

The new system, it adds, is the only technology capable of detecting today's quieter diesel-powered submarines and is therefore vital for national security.

Last month the US National Marine Fisheries Service, the government agency responsible for protecting ocean wildlife, decided to allow the Navy to deploy the radar for five years. It was, said one environmental campaigner, a licence to kill.

See also:

04 Aug 02 | Breakfast
31 Jul 02 | Americas
16 Jul 02 | Americas
08 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
11 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
10 Feb 01 | In Depth
29 Nov 00 | Science/Nature
05 Jan 01 | Science/Nature
Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes