- By Pacific island Times News Staff
Navy: No expansion of existing range
The Navy is neither expanding its existing Finegayan Small Arms Range nor proposing any operational changes to use higher caliber firearms at the firing test site, the Joint Region Marianas said.
JRM clarified that the Navy’s request for the establishment of danger zone in the Finegayan area was an administrative action to formalize existing operation of the existing range.
“The Finegayan Small Arms Range and the associated safety danger zone on Naval Computer and Telecommunication Station Guam has been safely and effectively used by the military, local and federal agencies since the mid-1970s,” JRM said in a statement in response to concerns raised by Guam senators.
“The continued operation of this small arms range is important to achieve the core mission of the Department of Defense to sustain the readiness of our men and women who have sworn an oath to protect and defend our country,” JRM said.
The request for danger zone designation was filed with the US. Army Corps of Engineers for coding purposes.
“The safety danger zone has been included to ensure the safety of local fisherman and mariners, providing awareness so they can plan for when the range is in use,” JRM said, adding that the zone was fully evaluated in the 2015 Mariana Islands Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement and Overseas Environmental Impact Statement.
JRM said the arms permitted at the range are all small caliber, to include hand pistols, rifles and shotguns.
“As with all Department of Defense small arms ranges, arms are fired into a substantial earthen berm, with the SDZ serving as an additional layer of safety,” JRM said. “As stated in the federal public notice, all military services, federal and local law enforcement, to include the Guam National Guard, Guam Police Department, NCIS and the FBI use the range for mission critical small arms proficiency training,” it added.
The Navy said it “remains committed to protecting and preserving the rich environmental and cultural resources in Guam, and wants to ensure the safety of the public during mission critical training.”
The Navy said safety compliance at the Finegayan Small Arms Range is vital in order to ensure the range is run safely for both the organizations using it as well as mariners and fisherman who enter the area.
Safety measures include the following: - An advisory will be broadcast and made available by the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF channel 16. - When the range is in not use, the SDZ will be open to normal maritime traffic and all activities to include anchoring and loitering. - While the range is in use, vessels will need to transit quickly through the SDZ; no loitering or anchoring will be permitted. - Range activities will halt while vessels are transiting. - During the day a prominent red flag will be displayed while the range is in use and lookouts will be posted; at night a strobe light will be used in the same conspicuous location as the flag.