Naval Special Warfare plans to triple the amount of small-unit intermediate and advanced training conducted by SEALs and other special operations forces on non-federal lands in Hawaii, with training expanding from Oahu and Hawaii island to Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
The training increase, revealed in a draft environmental assessment, would begin in 2019.
“Naval special operations personnel must be ready for a variety of military operations — from large-scale conflict to maritime security and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief — to respond to the dynamic, social, political, economic and environmental issues that may arise,” Naval Special Warfare Command said in the new report.
Currently, 110 special operations training events are held annually on non-federal lands on Oahu and the Big Island and for the most part include personnel swimming and the use of small ships, boats and submersibles.
That would increase to up to 330 training events under the new Navy proposal, which is subject to a statutory 30-day public comment period ending Dec. 10, and final Navy approval.
Up to 265 training events also would be held on federal property per year.
SEAL Delivery Vehicle team 1 at Pearl City Peninsula utilizes open-water submersibles for insertion that can be carried piggyback by a larger mothership submarine and require the use of scuba gear.
Training would occur in the nearshore waters and land-based areas on Oahu, the Big Island and Kauai, and in the nearshore waters, including harbors and bays, of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
Water-based training generally includes diving and swimming, and launching and recovering submersibles, while land-based training would include transiting over the beach on foot.
According to the assessment, proposed air-based training would include the use of drones, C-17 cargo carriers, helicopters, MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and AC-130 gunships — a cargo carrier modified with side-firing cannons and a Gatling gun. The propeller planes are used to protect troops on the ground.
The proposed action does not include explosives demolition or off-road training, the Navy said. Live-fire weapons would be carried over federal land to reach existing live-fire ranges on federal property.