Those of us private contractors hired to confront the Navy’s whale-killing acoustics, sometimes spoke about active sonar to our bosses as an “out-of-scale” technology. The term describes a technology that possesses a rather unique type of flaw which is neither mechanical nor acts as an impediment to its proscribed purpose. Out-of-scale is a euphemism that describes hardware that is innately dangerous to the environment in which we all live.
Those of us working on the whale issue, got nowhere with Navy policy makers when describing their much-admired sonar as innately ”dangerous”. So we invented the term “out-of-scale” to describe acoustic technology that compromised the environment simply by doing what it is supposed to do. It was dangerously loud, impossible to control the range of this danger, and therefore could not be used anywhere life existed, without producing collateral damage.
Is this starting to sound familiar?
The Growlers are another of the US Navy’s out-of-scale technologies. The planes probably do most everything the Navy had hoped they would do. But to attain that success, Navy procurers had to have made a committee decision to overlook the unintentional flaw that causes it to destroy the acoustic environment for a vastly out-of-scale 10 or more miles in every direction. It was built despite pre-knowledge of acoustic collateral damage.
One might wonder if on the day the Navy buyers bought the plane, they overlooked the out-of-scale flaw by agreeing to agree, against their understanding of systems testing, that this machine would only ever be used on aircraft carriers, well out of hearing of the public. Or perhaps they looked in the mirror and saw themselves as hardheaded warriors, who must learn to accept collateral damage as a horrible but unavoidable aspect of modern warfare.
This technology is now on Whidbey Island flaunting its flaw by destroying real communities and real lives. The constancy of the noise verifies the Navy’s belief that the collateral damage is still within acceptable limits. And all the other things these Growlers provide, remain more important to DoD policy makers than the people who live on Whidbey Island. If it were otherwise, they would be phasing out the Growler program, not expanding it.