Live-Fire Training Up In Smoke

December 2006 News

The Coast Guard scuttled plans to conduct live-fire training on the Great Lakes.


The Coast Guard was seeking to establish 34 safety zones in the Great Lakes where it would conduct weapons training, using boat-mounted machine guns. But environmentalists and other groups, citing safety and environmental concerns, protested the plans.


Rear Adm. John Crowley Jr., commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, says the plan was dropped Monday following internal reviews and a series of public meetings. More than 880 comments were submitted to the federal docket concerning the proposal. Crowley says he will pursue environmentally friendly alternatives.


"We will not conduct live-fire training on the Great Lakes to satisfy non-emergency training requirements unless we publish a rule, and I intend to reconsider the number, frequency of use and location of water training areas as well as other concerns raised by the public," Crowley said in a statement.


The Coast Guard says weapons training is vital to its homeland security mission. The agency had said it would keep marinas and boaters notified of the weapons exercises on marine radio frequencies, but some feared boaters would miss the announcements.


"We are very gratified they pulled the plug on this," said F. Ned Dikmen, chairman of the Great Lakes Boating Federation. "We've been against it from Day One. The boaters would have no clue what to do."


Dikmen says he is not opposed to military operations to protect the Great Lakes, but says the Coast Guard's proposal was not a "workable" solution.


"The Great Lakes just wasn't ready for this," he said.

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