Residents concerned over military vessels near Kaneohe Sandbar - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Residents concerned over military vessels near Kaneohe Sandbar

KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Its war games in windward Oahu with military exercises for Rimpac, a series of training missions with countries from around the world.

Military helicopters and planes flew overhead while three huge hovercraft type vessels parked near the Kaneohe Sandbar all morning.  When they moved the gas turbine engines stirred up water and sand.

"Those engines are super powerful, super loud," said Andrew Fine, who works for Kaneohe Bay Ocean Sports (KBOS), which takes visitors out to the Sandbar.

Today the employees and visitors got an up close look at the military vessels. KBOS employees say they have no doubt the military vessels were affecting the ocean floor.

"This is all home to us, this is our front yard and I do take it quite personally when people come and destroy it," said Fine.  "Octopus, tako and all different kinds of creatures living down there and it's just ruining all their homes for sure."

"You're supposed to stay in navigable waters but these guys just going right out there over the coral," said Peter Field, windward Oahu resident.

Former state lawmaker Melody Aduja saw the hovercrafts early this morning from her shoreline home.

"Here when you're dealing with a craft of that magnitude it's hard to say they are not damaging the Bay because they are definitely churning up the habitat and the environment," said Aduja.  "Any type of unusual conduct such as that is going to have some kind of adverse affect on the environment."

The hovercrafts are called Landing Craft Air Cushion or LCAC.  They are 88 feet long and 47 feet wide.  They carry a 75 ton load and have a displacement of up to 182 tons fully loaded.  The LCACs are so large they can transport several vehicles or tanks.

Today the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Director William Aila said the Marines used the LCACs to drop off other amphibious vehicles at Pyramid Rock near the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe. Then the LCACs needed a place to anchor and wait until the exercises were finished for the day so they parked at the Sandbar.

Aila says the LCACs were anchored in 8 feet of water in a spot where other boats often anchor.  He said the LCACs would not create any problems and does not consider it to have a negative impact to the Bay.  No permit with the state was needed.   Aila also says the military has a right to be there just like everyone else.

"Two Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCACs) were anchored this afternoon adjacent to Kapapa Island by the Sampan Channel awaiting recovery of two amphibious vehicles from Marine Corps Base Hawaii to the USS Essex.  The LCACs were confirmed by MCB Hawaii personnel to be anchored, in accordance with law, in navigable water, with engines off, in a location as to mitigate interference with commercial and recreational activities," said 1st Lt. Diann Olson, Public Affairs Officer with the Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

However our video shows three LCACs parked next to back edge of the Sandbar while civilians walked on the front edge of the Sandbar.

Rimpac began June 29. The exercises will conclude August 3.

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