Navy to expand sonar, other training off Northwest coast

SEATTLE  — The U.S. Navy has finalized a plan to expand sonar testing and other warfare training off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and northern California.

The Navy decided Nov. 4 to implement its preferred plan after a lengthy review that included a determination from the National Marine Fisheries Service that the exercises would not have major impacts on endangered orcas and other marine mammals.

The Navy said in its decision that it will follow strict guidelines and employ measures to reduce effects on marine species.

Critics worry the military activities can kill and harm whales and disrupt their feeding and communications. They contend that the Navy isn't doing enough to ease the impacts or restrict activities in areas that are biologically important for the animals.