Molokai activists warn they’ll protest if Navy goes through with military exercises offshore

Molokai Navy Exercises

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Naval Special Operations Training is proposed for next year at sites statewide and the Navy wants public feedback on the plan.

Molokai residents in particular are worried since the ocean exercises include the south shore waters of the island, which provide much of their food.

"It's put a huge alarm over here on Molokai. Everybody is talking about it," said Molokai activist Walter Ritte.

“We are really worried about the impact on the lifestyle and our subsistence activities on Molokai is going to be major and nobody is talking to us,” he added.

"From the tip of La'au point to Molokai wharf, the area is huge," said Molokai resident Lori Buchanan.

She says the community felt blind-sighted.

"Actually the Molokai people are very supportive of our men and women in the military and I think that's why it was even more shocking that there was no scoping. Nobody came and asked permission if this type of undertaking would be okay," she added.

The Navy says the proposed activities off Molokai would have no bombs, no live fire training, be limited to the water and have minimal impact on natural resources.

"As part of the training, the trainees learn skills needed to avoid detection along with the goal of leaving no trace of their presence during or after training activities."

The exercises would include divers, swimmers, submersible craft to include unmanned underwater vehicles or remotely operated underwater vehicles, and watercraft such as Jet Skis, waverunners, or small boats.

"Many people are afraid and living in fear right now because we don't know how we are going to be impacted," said Buchanan.

The Navy says the the proposed exercises would range from two up to 72 hours at a time and would include no more than 10 exercises per year at any one location.

The Navy is extending the public comment period for the Naval Special Operations Training State of Hawaii Draft Environmental Assessment until Jan. 7 to allow the public more time to submit comments.

Click here for more information on the training or to leave your comments.

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