JACKSONVILLE, Fla., July 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy says it will likely be three or four years before it formally applies for permission to use a new sonar training area off Florida.
The Navy is finalizing plans for $100 million range off the coast of Jacksonville, but must first win the approval of the National Marine Fisheries Service due to concerns over migrating whales.
The Jacksonville (Fla.) Times-Union said Wednesday the range is about 20 miles from known right whale migration routes, but questions remain as to how far sonar noise travels underwater.
The Navy's final approval of the plan was expected this week.
Although the military says the training range is necessary to counter the development of extremely quiet diesel submarines, the Times-Union says it is assumed environmentalists will wage a determined legal battle to scuttle the project.