What is a Growler? The EA-18G Growler is the Navy’s latest electronic warfare aircraft, used to jam electronic communications over a determined area. To learn more about the Growler, click here to watch a video.
In early 2019, the Navy added 36 Growlers to their fleet at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI), quadrupling their Field Carrier Landing Practices. The Growler jet is louder than its predecessor and practices touch-and-go operations on a rural landing strip over a densely populated community in Coupeville, Washington. To learn more about the increase, click here.
SDA objects to the increase in Growler training for several reasons: all related to how the non-Navy community expects to live and work in the region. Our region is largely rural and wilderness when measured by area with a few population centers that rely largely on our natural resources, tourism and recreation for economic prosperity. The region includes International Heritage sites, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, San Juan Islands National Monument and the Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest. Many sites support unique and delicate ecosystems which can be easily upset.
The city of Oak Harbor is the lone exception and is very dependent on spending by Navy employees, both military and civilian. Many people in Oak Harbor are (understandably) concerned that any criticism or pushback on Navy plans will negatively impact their local economy. Unfortunately, the Navy has taken advantage of this fear and feeds the narrative that it will go where it has best community support and take its money with it.
Restoring the Balance
SDA was formed to give a more balanced view of the entire region, economically, environmentally and culturally to our elected officials, the Navy and the wider community. The impacted region extends from the Pacific coast to the Okanagan valley in eastern Washington where the Growler fleet regularly trains. There is a limit to how much the Navy can expand operations in our region before the negative impacts outweigh the positive ones. We believe that limit has been reached and the Growler fleet needs to be dispersed to other bases for training and support instead of continuing to expand operations at NAS-WI. We need to Restore the Balance.