Moving another step closer toward planned launches of microsatellites next year from a new southern pad here as part of a University of Hawaii and NASA project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has extended PMRF’s danger zone along the length of its shoreline for public safety.
The modified zone, which Navy officials stress will only be enacted for launches as necessary and only around those areas affected, also accommodates other future range operations, ensures safety, and maintains continued public access as part of the Navy’s Range Safety and Access Initiative (RSAI).
The official notice amending the boundaries of the existing danger zone in waters of the Pacific Ocean off PMRF was posted in the Federal Register on Monday at www.poh.usace.army.mil following a 30-day public comment period and nearly six-month review process that was initiated in July. The modification goes into effect Jan. 15, 2014.
“We took this process very seriously and actively solicited and valued the inputs of our neighbors, with whom we share the beaches and waterways,” said Capt. Bruce W. Hay, PMRF Commanding Officer, adding that “public access to the beaches for swimming, fishing, surfing and other recreational activities will not be affected except during launches and training events, in line with current policy. To the general public and tour boat operators familiar with PMRF’s shoreline, the beach and water access is business as usual.”
Hay had an opportunity last month to explain the danger zone proposal and reassure both commercial and private users of the waters off the Navy range that their operations would continue as normal. Representatives of nearly a dozen local boating, fishing and diving organizations toured PMRF Nov. 18 to get a better understanding of the Navy’s mission and have another opportunity to provide feedback on any concerns they might have related to the proposal.
From those discussions, PMRF officials highlighted the increased methods for advance notification procedures of range closures that could have a short-term impact on tour boat excursions and fishing endeavors.
Any partial closures in the danger zone will be indicated by Notice to Mariners, the presence of Pacific Missile Range Facility range boats, beach markings including beach signs along the north and south beach borders alerting shoreline foot traffic, security patrols, and radio transmissions on common ocean frequencies to include Marine band channel 6 (156.300 Mhz), Marine band channel 16 (156.800 Mhz), and CB channel 22.
In addition, the danger zone closure schedule will be posted on the PMRF official website at http://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrh/installations/
pacific_missile_range_facility_barking_sands/om/beach-access.html and Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PacificMissileRangeFacility. The danger zone closure schedule may also be obtained by calling the following phone numbers: 808-335-4301, 808-335-4388, and 808-335-4523.
Public access to the shoreline would be provided to the maximum extent practicable as is current policy, emphasized Hay. Under the RSAI, the modified danger zone would be closed to the public only during range operations, test and training activities, and force protection conditions that are determined to pose a hazard to the general public, all of which present no change from existing policy.