Our bad neighbor, the navy, angers the peninsula yet again,




Navy raises number of jets proposed at Whidbey Island base, raising more East Jefferson noise issues
Click here to zoom…
A Zapper EA-18G Growler in flight. ­—U.S. Navy photo
By Mark St.J. Couhig
Peninsula Daily News


The controversy over the noisy jets at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island likely will soon grow in volume.

U.S. Fleet Forces Command spokesman Ted Brown said this week that the Navy is looking at “the potential addition of up to 36 EA-18G Growler aircraft” at the station.

An earlier proposal called for an additional 14 jets.

The Navy announced this week that the plan would be published in the Federal Register today.

It’s included in a proposal to revise the scope of the ongoing, and often contentious, process to create an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Growler airfield operations at the station.

The new proposal includes notice of a new series of public scoping meetings to gather community input on the revised plan.

Public comment will be taken through Nov. 24.

Port Townsend Mayor David King said the proposal likely will leave some Port Townsend residents “very upset,” not least because the Navy has again failed to schedule any of its public meetings on the North Olympic Peninsula.

King gave the Navy credit for improving their communications, noting that prior to the announcement of public meetings on the EIS that were held in December 2013, the Navy gave the city no notice.

This time, he said, he was given a heads-up.

King said he’s forwarded the Navy’s announcement to members of the Port Townsend City Council.

“We’ll talk about it at some point,” he said.

King said the proposal likely will strike a raw nerve because it specifically calls for an increase in the noisiest flights as the pilots practice on land the short runway techniques used for aircraft carrier takeoffs and landings.

Those require much more power, he said.

The sound carries across Admiralty Inlet to Port Townsend and other areas on the Peninsula.

King said he’s been contacted by a number of residents who are concerned about the flights.

He said he has been suggesting that those who want to protest the change should contact Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve, an activist group on the island that seeks to “close OLF Coupeville and remove the EA18G Growler from North Puget Sound,” according to its website at

Started in 2103

The Navy originally started work on the EIS in September 2013 to evaluate the potential environmental impacts that would result from the addition of two new expeditionary squadrons on the island, along with 14 additional Growler aircraft.

Brown said in the spring that Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert submitted an unfunded requirements list as part of the president’s budget for 2015.

The list includes a request to purchase 22 additional Growler aircraft.

“While it’s unclear whether more Growlers will ultimately be procured, the Navy is electing to analyze the potential for these aircraft in order to be proactive and transparent,” Brown said.

Brown said the Navy hopes to increase the existing training squadron operations at NAS Whidbey Island’s Ault Field and OLF Coupeville, along with “up to 36 aircraft.”

The plan calls for renovating facilities at Ault Field to accommodate the additional aircraft.

Additional personnel also would be required to live at the station and in the local community.

Brown said the three meetings on the revised EIS will be informal, consisting of information stations staffed by Navy representatives.

The meetings will be conducted from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A Coupeville meeting is set Tuesday, Oct. 28, at Coupeville High School, 501 S. Main St.

Meetings also are set in Oak Harbor and Anacortes.

Additional information about the EIS can be found on the project website at

Written comments can be submitted to the EA-18G EIS Project Manager, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic, Attn: Code EV21/SS, 6506 Hampton Blvd., Norfolk, VA 23508.

Comments also can be submitted online at the project website and at scoping meetings.


Reporter Mark Couhig can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at

Last modified: October 09. 2014 7:02PM

No Comments

  1. Nancy Botta
  2. Uncle Sam

    Question….Were you there PRIOR to the base being built? If so why did you move so close to the existing base?

    1. citizensofthereserve

      Many Whidbey Island residents, and several of my friends were peacefully farming their land way before either the base or the OLF were built. Remember, many of the farms on Whidbey were started in the 1880s. That’s 60 years before the base or the OLF. And, native Americans before that. The base and the OLF are the newcomers here, and bad neighbors at that. We were here first, not the navy. The base was built on our farm land. I’ve heard plenty of story’s about the farms where the OLF is from people who were here then, before the military.

  3. citizensofthereserve

    Slavery used to be legal, did that make it right?

  4. Liz Gerritsen

    This is a BIG point. The navy is only doing small percentage of its flights over Coupeville? That just attests to the fact that there are way too many military aircraft in our skies flying over populated areas. This flight practice should only be done over un-populated areas. The introduction and increase of the Growler aircraft has turned paradise into hell.

  5. citizensofthereserve

    If you will be leading them, I would feel secure. I have full confidence that in the 11 months the OLF wasn’t used, not one pilot went without the proper training, my trust in the people working at the base is very high. And all the crews good. The navy would never sacrifice training a pilot and crew to the level required for flying. They got along then, they can get along without the OLF now. Stop the injuring of the folks on the ground. The navy can get along, and be a good neighbor, without the OLF.
    Now , we’re back on subject!

  6. liz gerritsen

    My father who served in the army grew up hunting and fishing on Whidbey Island. He would roll over in his grave if he could see what the navy has done to his beloved island…he was there way before NASWI.

    Also, what capacity does Mr. Stevens have to speak for the navy? Who is he paid to protect and defend? Who is paying his salary? If the answer to the last two questions are any other than the tax-paying citizens of these United States…we are in REAL trouble! That is the problem with military and government…they are like spoiled children…they forget who is working to pay the tab!

    We certainly deserve more respect than this!

  7. liz gerritsen


    I did not make the comment about “slavery”…you are confusing me with someone else on a few of the issues. I grew up next to an Air Force base…I didn’t have any bad feelings about them…at all. My concern and dismay is not with “the troops”. My distaste is for the individuals who are making the decisions to put military training in the middle of populated areas. While you are at it maybe you can answer a question for me? Okay, if the EA 18 Growler is just the razzmatazz…how come they don’t practice at the OLF when it is foggy? The elevation of Ridgecrest is 2,290 ft. How are you supposed to fly these jets in enemy terrain? Surely you have vertical drops and all manner of unfriendly terrrain and conditions to fly under. Yes, you want a safe training area for your pilots…we do too. It is, however just as important to insure the safety of the public, The OLF is NOT located in a safe spot…period. We actually do have pilots associated with COER…they are just as baffled by the stubborness of retaining this insufficient landing strip as anyone else. In the future don’t just suppose anything. I have had to fight off gangbangers, crack dealers and sexually harassing illegals that were illegally living next to my home…all while my husband travelled for his work (and paid taxes for that joy ride you are having up there). I literally had to walk around with a shot gun over my shoulder to protect my daughter…I know a little about combat….and all that in the good ole US of A!

  8. John

    John Stevens,
    Your arrogance is quite something . A perfect example of the codecending military mindset toward civilians. It’s not all about you and your war machines.

    To correct you once again, Liz made no comment about slavery. At least try to make an attempt at accuracy if you are going to bloviate all over this website.

  9. Brad

    “If these jets are so amazing (paraphrased) ‘how come they don’t practice at the OLF when it is foggy?'” Thank you Liz for showing exactly how little you know about what you are arguing against with just one statement. “The OLF is NOT located in a safe spot…period.” This should read “the homes immediately surrounding the OLF are not built in a safe spot…period” since the OLF was there long before those sub divisions. Lastly, please refrain from saying the pilots are taking “joy rides” on your tax dollars. While the flights can be enjoyable and rewarding they are anything but joy rides and every flight serves a purpose wether it is apparent to you or not.

    1. citizensofthereserve

      The OLF is a latecomer to the island, sorry, many homes and farms here were started in the 1880s, 60 years before the OLF. The OLF is the intruder.

  10. citizensofthereserve

    There are both airline as well as military pilots in COER working with us. We laypeople do appreciate the insight you have given us.

  11. John

    It is amazing how two descriptive words can set Mr. Stevens off on yet another rant. The display of his prejudices and small mindedness only exemplifies the arrogance and narcissism of people, like him, who are corrupted by their own self righteousness.

  12. liz

    It never in a million years would have occurred to me to question the actions of the military as I grew up with it in close proximity. After the summers of 2011 & 2012 my understanding of the military actions changed. The flights over our homes were vicious air raids. These flights were completely un-forgivable. When I called the air base and spoke to a Mr. Church his words were “We really nailed you guys!”. I think that the navy needs more accountability for their actions. Common sense is not keeping pace with technology. Just because these jets were made doesn’t make them okay. Brad, your comment in itself is an admission that the OLF is no longer safe. You are accusing the homes around the OLF of not being safe. The horse is out of the barn, Brad…the homes are there.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts