Jet noise expected in Port Townsend, other areas of Peninsula, as Navy tests resume next week

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

WHIDBEY ISLAND — Jet noise from the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is expected Monday and Thursday when field carrier landing practice is planned at the Outlying Landing Field in Coupeville.

It may be heard in Port Townsend or other areas of the North Olympic Peninsula.

The practice involving EA-6B Prowler and EA-18G Growler jets will take place during the late afternoon and early evening hours Monday and Wednesday, the Navy said.

The schedule for the flights, which are expected to continue through the summer, will be released a week ahead so residents can know when — or if — tests are scheduled for community planning purposes, said Mike Welding, naval base spokesman.

Welding said the announcements will be posted each Thursday on the base's Facebook page, http://tinyurl.com/PDN-Whidbey-Tests, with a notice if no tests are planned for the following week.

“It's hard for us to update our Web page, so Facebook has worked very well for us in order to get the information out,” Welding said.

Residents living in Coupeville and around the Outlying Field will notice an increase in noise, the Navy said.

The noise will possibly be audible for Port Townsend residents since it easily carries across the water from Whidbey Island, according to Port Townsend Mayor David King.

Tests about 8 miles as the plane flies from Port Townsend began in 2008 and have prompted continuous complaints since then, The Seattle Times has reported.

The landing strip was built during World War II when planes were slower and quieter, and the field is now a key training ground for Growlers, Boeing-built jets based at the naval station.

The flights are resuming after a moratorium on using the Outlying Landing Field began in May.

During the moratorium, the Navy solicited comments about the noise.

Meetings to take testimony in preparation of the environmental impact statement, or EIS, took place in Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Anacortes in December, but no meeting was scheduled on the North Olympic Peninsula or at any other location.

The comment period ends today, but this deadline won't be strictly enforced, according to U.S. Fleet Forces Command spokesman Ted Brown.

Due to the holiday, comments will be accepted throughout next week along with reasons why the comment period should be extended, although Brown said the comment period, which began in September and included two public hearings, “was already quite lengthy.”

To comment, visit www.whidbeyeis.com.

In October, NAS Whidbey Island made a “PDF fillable” form available to the public that improves the base's ability to evaluate and analyze incoming information.

The form asks users to provide their name, date of the event, time, phone numbers, call-back request, pertinent address and a comment section.

The new comment form is accessible at http://tinyurl.com/pdn-wicomment-pdf.

After completing the form, email to comments.NASWI@navy.mil.

Comments, including noise complaints, can be directed to NAS Whidbey Island's new comment line at 360-257-6665 or via email to comments.NASWI@navy.mil.

All other questions can be directed to the NAS Whidbey Island Public Affairs Office at 360-257-2286.

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Port Townsend/Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 02. 2014 10:33PM
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