U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen speaks at a League of Women Voters forum in Oak Harbor last week. (Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times)

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen speaks at a League of Women Voters forum in Oak Harbor last week. (Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times)

Rep. Rick Larsen shares Growler noise concerns with Pentagon

He said the Navy brass “just don’t get” how serious the issue is for the Central Whidbey community.

By Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen is paying attention to concerns Central Whidbey residents have about a proposed increase in Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft practice at a rural runway.

Larsen, a Democrat representing the second congressional district, said in a recent interview that Navy brass “just don’t get” how serious the issue is for the community.

Larsen said he has shared his concerns with Navy officials.

“I’ve been talking to the people at the highest level of the military,” he said, “and I hope they’ve been listening.”

Larsen has also tried to tackle the issue from a different angle. He was successful in getting $2 million into the recently passed $675-billion budget for the U.S. Defense Department to study noise mitigation efforts for Growlers.

Specifically, Larsen explained, the money is to research chevrons, which are mounted on the engine nozzle of aircraft to reduce the turbulence that creates noise.

The problem is that they bend under stress on Growlers, but engineers believe the problem can be overcome, he said.

“There is a solution that conforms to the laws of physics,” Larsen said.

For years, many people in the Central Whidbey community have been very vocal in their opposition to the Growler aircraft carrier landing practice at Outlying Field Coupeville because of the noise.

A lawsuit was filed. A few different groups have formed. Hundreds of people attended meetings in opposition to Growler noise.

By comparison, few people around Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s Ault Field Base on North Whidbey — the other option for Growler practice — have voiced concerns about Growler noise.

Nevertheless, the Navy’s final Environmental Impact Statement on the planned increase of Growlers at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island outlines a “preferred alternative” under which practice increases by 370 percent and most of it will occur at OLF Coupeville.

Navy officials explained that OLF Coupeville provides the pilots with the most realistic training for landing on aircraft carriers, which is considered one of the most dangerous maneuvers a pilot has to do.

Officials also pointed out that a great deal of traffic from other aircraft occurs at the Ault Field Base and that more people live on North Whidbey and are affected by noise from the base.

The Secretary of the Navy may make a final decision on the alternative no later than 30 days after the release of the final EIS, which occurred Sept. 28.

Larsen sent a letter to the Secretary of the Navy earlier this year with a list of questions related to the increase in Growlers and the preferred alternative. He received a response at the end of July, but he said all his questions weren’t answered adequately. He said he’s in the process of developing questions to send back to the Navy.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Monroe woman missing since Tuesday, says sheriff’s office

Kenna Harris, 25, was last seen leaving her family’s home and was reportedly on her way to Walmart.

Tyler Chism was diagnosed with COVID-19 and is currently cleared, by CDC standards, but chooses to remain indoors at home on March 20 in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Gallery: Life in Snohomish County as coronavirus takes hold

A collection of images by our staff photographers from our COVID-19 coverage over the past month.

Watch Gov. Jay Inslee’s Thursday news conference here

He will be joined by state health officials to give an update on the coronavirus response.

Victims of 2 Snohomish County homicides are identified

In unrelated cases, a man died of a gunshot in Lynnwood, and an Everett landlord died of blunt-force trauma.

Closed Edmonds car lot dodged hundreds of thousands in taxes

For years, Kero’s Auto Brokers greatly underreported its sales, and how much it owed the state.

Final farewells continue, but few are allowed to say goodbye

Rules for funerals limit attendees to immediate family. In Darrington, a memorial tradition is on hold.

Watch Gov. Jay Inslee’s Wednesday news conference here

He is expected to discuss the need for manufacturers to provide personal protective equipment.

COVID-19 and supporting essential workers

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Inslee signs transportation budget, with car tabs in mind

The state will account for vehicle registration fees it collects, in case they have to be given back.

Most Read