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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 19, 2009 at 4:18 PM

U.S. Navy rescue from Somali pirates

Captain shows real character

What makes Cap. Richard Phillips so remarkable for me is that when he originally stood up on the pirates’ boat and then jumped in the water, he no doubt was assuming that there was a 24-hour surveillance from the U.S. ship only 100 feet away, sharpshooters ready [“How Navy snipers saved captain,” page one, April 13]. He brilliantly strategized them shooting the pirates when the latter would try to retrieve him from the water.

What Capt. Phillips was not aware of was a lack of a 24-hour surveillance by American sharpshooters. They obviously got the message from the captain after their failure, but Capt. Phillips never mentioned this military failing after his release, having nothing but praise for the military. That is real character.

— Gil Costello

Navy training can harm marine life

Extensive coverage has been devoted to the U.S. Navy’s rescue of the containership captain off the Somali coast. This operation utilized three naval vessels, drones, night-vision goggles and paratrooping Navy SEAL snipers. We can feel proud when our armed forces work with such precision.

Unfortunately, no coverage was afforded the USS San Francisco’s April 7 use of mid-frequency in the Strait of Juan de Fuca as part of a sea trial for the nuclear submarine, having spent three years in a shipyard after colliding with a seamount. Such sonar has been shown to kill marine mammals and fish with swim bladders such as salmon, rockfish and herring.

While the need for military training is undeniable, the potential for collateral damage in the biologically rich and acoustically reflective inshore waters causes concern, especially when conducted in darkness. Reports of collisions with nuclear subs, such as the USS Hartford [“Two U.S. Navy vessels collide,” News, March 21], are far more common than the Navy may have us believe.

It is time that our elected officials who have made Washington home to one of the most militarized waters in the world ensure that such training does not render the vast amount of public resources being spent on natural-resource recovery moot.

— Fred Felleman, Seattle

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