The United States Navy has serious concerns about the City of Long Beach’s East San Pedro Bay Ecosystem Restoration Study, an ongoing endeavor by the city and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assessing multiple “alternatives” to the current configuration of the Long Beach breakwater.
In a letter dated October 2, 2018, and obtained today by the Business Journal, N. J. Dahlke, Captain, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, Naval Weapons Station in Seal Beach, informed the city that, “Any modification to the breakwater would bring on increases in wave energy affecting vessel motion and increasing the risk to safety of personnel and damage to vessels and equipment. This unwanted effect would severely impact the Navy’s ability to respond during a time of national or international crisis.”
In the waters behind the breakwater, an area referred to by the Navy as the “D8 anchorage,” the Navy conducts weapons and munitions transfers between vessels on the water, the letter explained. Any change to the breakwater could result in changes to wave energy, and even “small swells can generate sudden and random shifts in distance and height” between such vessels.
There is no other area within the San Pedro Bay that would meet the Department of Defense’s requirements for the explosives operations the Navy currently conducts, according to Dahlke’s correspondence.
The Navy has veto authority over any changes to the breakwater, according to Diana Tang, government affairs manager for the City of Long Beach, who added that the Navy has been informed of the study’s progress since it began at the direction of the city council in 2013.
She clarified that the city and Army Corps of Engineers are still studying potential breakwater reconfigurations, rather than developing specific project recommendations, and noted that Captain Dahlke’s letter was written “before meaningful mitigation measures were developed for consideration.”
It is unclear when the study will be complete. The city council has authorized $2.25 million to fund the study, which is also receiving funding from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Tang said letters and correspondence in response to the study are not individually released to the public or to the city council, but are collected to inform the study’s progress.