The U.S. Navy is resuming its program of targeting old war vessels and sinking them into deep ocean waters during military exercises, a practice that it suspended because of environmental complaints.
Three ships will soon be targeted by a variety of weapons and sunk off the coast of Hawaii as part of the Rim of the Pacific naval exercises, or RIMPAC, which began on Monday, a Navy spokesman said in a telephone interview with the Los Angeles Times. RIMPAC, which lasts for five weeks, features training exercises for thousands of military personnel from almost two dozen nations.
The sinkings, which are to take place some time in the next few weeks, would be the first since the Navy suspended the practice of using old ships as targets that are sunk in the ocean. The program, known as Sinkex, was put on hold because of environmental complaints; it was resumed after new guidelines were worked out in 2011, the spokesman said.
Environmental groups, including the Basel Action Network, are suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which granted a waiver to the Navy for the Sinkex program. The groups argue that the Navy should have to clean up the vessels to higher standards than the military wants, said Todd True, an attorney with Earthjustice, the public interest law firm that represents the groups.