Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Precision Strike Weapon and Air-to-Surface Gunnery Training and Testing Operations at Eglin Air Force Base, FL, 38595-38597 [2012-15925]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 125 / Thursday, June 28, 2012 / Notices Environmental Assessment augmenting the information contained in the Air Force’s EA and issued a Finding of No Significant Impact on the issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization for United Launch Alliance’s harbor activities in accordance with section 6.01 of the NOAA Administrative Order 216–6 (Environmental Review Procedures for Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act, May 20, 1999). United Launch Alliance’s proposed activities and impacts for 2012–2013 are within the scope of our 2005 Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact. We have again reviewed the 2005 Environmental Assessment and determined that there are no new direct, indirect, or cumulative impacts to the human and natural environment associated with the Incidental Harassment Authorization requiring evaluation in a supplemental Environmental Assessment and we, therefore, intend to reaffirm the 2005 Finding of No Significant Impact. Proposed Authorization As a result of these preliminary determinations, we propose to authorize the take of marine mammals incidental to United Launch Alliance’s proposed harbor activities in the northeast Pacific Ocean, provided they incorporate the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements. The duration of the Incidental harassment Authorization would not exceed one year from the date of its issuance. Information Solicited srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES We request interested persons to submit comments and information concerning this proposed project and our preliminary determination of issuing a take authorization (see ADDRESSES). Concurrent with the publication of this notice in the Federal Register, we will forward copies of this application to the Marine Mammal Commission and its Committee of Scientific Advisors. Dated: June 22, 2012. Helen M. Golde, Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–15889 Filed 6–27–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:35 Jun 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XC032 Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Precision Strike Weapon and Air-to-Surface Gunnery Training and Testing Operations at Eglin Air Force Base, FL National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for a Letter of Authorization; request for comments and information. AGENCY: NMFS has received an application from the U.S. Department of the Air Force, Headquarters 96th Air Base Wing (U.S. Air Force), Eglin Air Force Base (Eglin AFB) for authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to testing and training activities associated with Precision Strike Weapon (PSW) and Airto-Surface (AS) gunnery missions, both of which are military readiness activities, at Eglin AFB, FL from approximately September 2012, to September 2017. Pursuant to Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) implementing regulations, NMFS announces receipt of the U.S. Air Force’s request for the development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals and inviting information, suggestions, and comments on the U.S. Air Force’s application and request. DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than July 30, 2012. ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Michael Payne, Cheif, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910– 3225. The mailbox address for providing email comments is ITP.Hopper@noaa.gov. NMFS is not responsible for email comments sent to addresses other than the one provided here. Comments sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10-megabyte file size. Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm without change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name, address, etc.) SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 38595 voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information. An electronic copy of the application containing a list of the references used in this document may be obtained by writing to the address specified above, telephoning the contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the Internet at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm. Documents cited in this notice may be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian D. Hopper, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 301–427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Availability An electronic copy of the application containing a list of the references used in this document may be obtained by writing to the address specified above, telephoning the contact listed below (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the Internet at: http:// www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental.htm. Documents cited in this notice may be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address. Background In the case of military readiness activities (as defined by section 315(f) of Public Law 107–314; 16 U.S.C. 703 note), sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and regulations are issued, or if the taking is limited to harassment an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) is issued. Upon making a finding that an application for incidental take is adequate and complete, NMFS commences the incidental take authorization process by publishing in the Federal Register a notice of a receipt of an application for the implementation of regulations or a proposed IHA. An authorization for the incidental takings may be granted if NMFS finds that the total taking during the relevant period will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), and will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for E:\FR\FM\28JNN1.SGM 28JNN1 38596 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 125 / Thursday, June 28, 2012 / Notices srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth to achieve the least practicable adverse impact. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as: * * * an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival. With respect to military readiness activities, the MMPA defines ‘‘harassment’’ as: (i) Any act that injures or has the significant potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level B harassment). Summary of Request On December 30, 2011, NMFS received an application from the U.S. Air Force requesting an authorization for the take of marine mammals incidental to PSW and AS gunnery testing and training operations. The requested regulations would establish a framework for authorizing incidental take in future Letters of Authorization (LOA). These LOAs, if approved, would authorize the take, by Level A (physiological) and Level B (behavioral) harassment, of Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) incidental to PSW testing and training activities. Takes of dwarf sperm whale (Kogia simus), pygmy sperm whale (K. breviceps), Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis), pan tropical spotted dolphin (S. attenuate), and spinner dolphin (S. longirostris) by Level B harassment would also be authorized incidental to AS gunnery testing and training operations. PSW missions would involve air-to-surface impacts of two weapons: (1) The Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) AGM–158 A and B; and (2) the small diameter bomb (SDB) (GBU–39/ B), which result in underwater detonations of up to approximately 300 lbs (136 kg) and 96 lbs (43.5 kg, double SDB) of net explosive weight (NEW), respectively. AS gunnery missions would involve surface impacts of projectiles and small underwater VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:35 Jun 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 detonations. Pursuant to the MMPA, NMFS issued regulations and annual LOAs for PSW activities from 2006 to 2011, and annual Incidental Harassment Authorizations for AS gunnery activities in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Description of the Specified Activities This section describes the PSW and AS gunnery testing and training missions that have the potential to affect marine mammals present within the test area. Both are considered to be a ‘‘military readiness activity’’ as defined under 16 U.S.C. 703 note, and involve detonations above the water, near the water surface, and under water within the EGTTR. The PSW missions involve the two weapons identified above, the JASSM and SDB, and AS gunnery missions typically involve the use of 25mm, 40-mm, and 105-mm gunnery rounds. These activities are described in more detail in the following paragraphs. PSW Missions The JASSM is a precision cruise missile designed for launch from a variety of aircraft at altitudes greater than 25,000 ft (7.6 km). The JASSM has a range of more than 200 nautical miles (370.4 km) and carries a 1,000-pound warhead. The JASSM has approximately 300 lbs of TNT equivalent net explosive weight (NEW). After launch from the aircraft, the JASSM cruises at altitudes greater than 12,000 ft (3.7 km) for the majority of its flight until making the terminal maneuver towards the target. The testing exercises involving the JASSM would consist of a maximum of two live shots (single) and four inert shots (single) during the year. One live shot will detonate in water and one will detonate in air. Detonation of the JASSM would occur under one of the following three scenarios: (1) Detonation upon impact with the target (about 1.5 m above the water’s surface); (2) detonation upon impact with a barge target at the surface of the water; or (3) detonation at 120 milliseconds after contact with the surface of the water. The SDB is a GPS-guided bomb that can be carried and launched from most USAF aircraft, which makes it an important element of the USAF’s Global Strike Task Force. The SDB has a range of up to 50 nautical miles and carries a 217-lb warhead. The SDB has approximately 48 lbs of TNT equivalent NEW. After being released from the aircraft at an altitude greater than 15,000 ft (4.6 km), the SDB deploys ‘‘Diamond Back’’ type wings that increase glide time and range as it descends towards the target. Exercises involving the SDB consist of a maximum of six live shots PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 with two of the shots occurring simultaneously, and a maximum of 12 inert shots with up to two occurring simultaneously. Chase aircraft will accompany the launch of JASSM and SDB ordnance. Chase aircraft include F–15, F–16, and T–38 aircraft. These aircraft would follow the test items during captive carry and free flight, but would not follow either item below a predetermined altitude as directed by Flight Safety. Other airborne assets on site may include an E–9 turboprop aircraft or MH–60/53 helicopters circling around the target location. Tanker aircraft, including KC–10s and KC–135s, would also be used for aerial refueling of aircraft involved in training exercises. In addition, an unmanned barge may also be on location to hold instrumentation. If used, the barge would be up to 1,000 ft (304.8 m) away from the target location. Based on availability, there are two possible target types to be used for the PSW mission tests. The first is a Container Express (CONEX) target (see figure 1–4 in Eglin AFB’s application) that consists of five containers strapped, braced, and welded together to form a single structure. The dimensions of each container are approximately 8 ft by 8 ft by 40 ft (2.4 m by 2.4 m by 12.2 m). Each container would contain 200 55gallon steel drums (filled with air and sealed) to provide buoyancy for the target. The second type of target is a hopper barge, which is a non-self propelled vessel typically used for transportation of bulk cargo (see figure 1–5 in Eglin AFB’s application). A typical hopper barge is approximately 30 ft by 12 ft and 125 ft long (9.1 m by 3.7 m and 38.1 m long). The targets would be held in place by a 4-point anchoring system using cables. PSW testing and training activities conducted by Eglin AFB would occur in the northern GOM in the EGTTR. Targets would be located in water less than 200 ft (61 m) deep and from 15 to 24 nm (27.8 to 44.5 km) offshore, south of Santa Rosa Island and south of Cape San Blas Site D3–A. PSW test missions may occur during any season of the year, but only during daytime hours. AS Gunnery Missions AS gunnery missions involve the firing of 25-mm, 40-mm, and 105-mm gunnery rounds from a circling AC–130 gunship. Each round contains 30 g, 392 g, and 2.1 kg of explosive, respectively. Live rounds must be used to produce a visible surface splash that must be used to ‘‘score’’ the round (the impact of inert rounds on the sea surface would not be detected). The U.S. Air Force has E:\FR\FM\28JNN1.SGM 28JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 125 / Thursday, June 28, 2012 / Notices developed a 105-mm training round (TR) that contains less than 10 percent of the amount of explosive material (0.16 kg) as compared to the ‘‘Full-Up’’ (FU) 105-mm round. The TR was developed as one method to mitigate effects on marine life during nighttime AS gunnery exercises when visibility at the water surface is poor. However, the TR cannot be used in the daytime because the amount of explosive material is insufficient to be detected from the aircraft. To establish the test target area, two Mk–25 flares are deployed or a target is towed into the center of a 9.3 km cleared area on the water’s surface. A typical gunship mission lasts approximately 5 hrs without refueling and 6 hrs when air-toair refueling is accomplished. Water ranges within the EGTTR that are typically used for AS gunnery operations are located in the GOM offshore from the Florida Panhandle (areas W–151A, W151B, W–151C, and W–151D as shown in Figure 1–9 in the Eglin AFB application). Data indicate that W–151A (Figure 1–10 in the Eglin AFB application) is the most frequently used water range due to its proximity to Hurlburt Field, but activities may occur anywhere within the EGTTR. Eglin AFB proposes to conduct AS gunnery missions year round during both daytime and nighttime hours. Additional information on the Eglin AFB training operations is contained in the application, which is available upon request (see ADDRESSES). Information Solicited srobinson on DSK4SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and comments related to the U.S. Air Force’s request (see ADDRESSES). All information, suggestions, and comments related to the U.S. Air Force’s PSW and AS gunnery testing and training operations request and NMFS’ potential development and implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of marine mammals by Eglin AFB’s PSW and AS gunnery testing and training operations will be considered by NMFS in developing, if appropriate, the most effective regulations governing the issuance of Letters of Authorization. Dated: June 22, 2012. Helen M. Golde, Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2012–15925 Filed 6–27–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:35 Jun 27, 2012 Jkt 226001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration Multistakeholder Process To Develop Consumer Data Privacy Code of Conduct Concerning Mobile Application Transparency National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice of open meeting. AGENCY: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will convene the first meeting of a privacy multistakeholder process concerning mobile application transparency on July 12, 2012. DATES: The meeting will be held on July 12, 2012, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held in the Auditorium of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Herbert C. Hoover Building, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Verdi, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Room 4725, Washington, DC 20230; telephone (202) 482–8238; email jverdi@ntia.doc.gov. Please direct media inquiries to NTIA’s Office of Public Affairs, (202) 482–7002. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background: On February 23, 2012, the White House released Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy (the ‘‘Privacy Blueprint’’).1 The Privacy Blueprint directs NTIA to convene multistakeholder processes to develop legally enforceable codes of conduct that specify how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies in specific business contexts.2 On June 15, 2012, NTIA announced that the goal of the first multistakeholder process is to develop a code of conduct to provide transparency in how companies providing applications and interactive services for mobile devices handle personal data.3 SUMMARY: 1 The Privacy Blueprint is available at http:// www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/privacyfinal.pdf. 2 Id. 3 NTIA, First Privacy Multistakeholder Meeting: July 12, 2012, http://www.ntia.doc.gov/otherpublication/2012/first-privacy-multistakeholdermeeting-july-12-2012. PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 38597 Matters to Be Considered: The July 12, 2012, meeting will be the first in a series of NTIA-convened multistakeholder discussions concerning mobile application transparency. Stakeholders will engage in an open, transparent, consensus-driven process to develop a code of conduct regarding mobile application transparency. The objectives of the July 12, 2012, meeting are to: (1) Promote discussion among stakeholders concerning mobile app transparency by employing a structured, open process; and (2) provide a venue for stakeholders to agree on the schedule and format of future meetings. Time and Date: NTIA will convene the first meeting of the privacy multistakeholder process on July 12, 2012, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time. Place: The meeting will be held in the Auditorium of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Herbert C. Hoover Building, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC. Other Information: The meeting is open to the public and the press. Attendees should arrive at least one-half hour prior to the start of the meeting. Due to security requirements and to facilitate entry to the Department of Commerce building, U.S. nationals must present a valid, government-issued photo identification upon arrival. Foreign nationals must contact John Verdi at (202) 482–8238 or jverdi@ntia. doc.gov at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting in order to provide the necessary clearance information, and must present a valid, governmentissued photo identification upon arrival. This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to John Verdi at (202) 482–8238 or jverdi@ntia. doc.gov at least seven (7) business days prior to the meeting. The meeting will also be webcast. There will be an opportunity for stakeholders viewing the webcast to participate remotely in the meeting through an NTIA in-room proxy. Please refer to NTIA’s Web site, http://www.ntia.doc.gov/otherpublication/2012/july-12-2012-privacymultistakeholder-meeting-details, for webcast and remote participation information. Dated: June 22, 2012. Kathy Smith, Chief Counsel, National Telecommunications and Information Administration. [FR Doc. 2012–15767 Filed 6–27–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–60–P E:\FR\FM\28JNN1.SGM 28JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 125 (Thursday, June 28, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 38595-38597]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-15925]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

RIN 0648-XC032


Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Precision Strike Weapon and 
Air-to-Surface Gunnery Training and Testing Operations at Eglin Air 
Force Base, FL

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Notice; receipt of application for a Letter of Authorization; 
request for comments and information.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: NMFS has received an application from the U.S. Department of 
the Air Force, Headquarters 96th Air Base Wing (U.S. Air Force), Eglin 
Air Force Base (Eglin AFB) for authorization to take marine mammals, by 
harassment, incidental to testing and training activities associated 
with Precision Strike Weapon (PSW) and Air-to-Surface (AS) gunnery 
missions, both of which are military readiness activities, at Eglin 
AFB, FL from approximately September 2012, to September 2017. Pursuant 
to Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) implementing regulations, NMFS 
announces receipt of the U.S. Air Force's request for the development 
and implementation of regulations governing the incidental taking of 
marine mammals and inviting information, suggestions, and comments on 
the U.S. Air Force's application and request.

DATES: Comments and information must be received no later than July 30, 
2012.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the application should be addressed to Michael 
Payne, Cheif, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected 
Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, 
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3225. The mailbox address for providing email 
comments is ITP.Hopper@noaa.gov. NMFS is not responsible for email 
comments sent to addresses other than the one provided here. Comments 
sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 10-
megabyte file size.
    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record 
and will generally be posted to http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm without change. All Personal Identifying Information 
(for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the 
commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit Confidential 
Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.
    An electronic copy of the application containing a list of the 
references used in this document may be obtained by writing to the 
address specified above, telephoning the contact listed below (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm. Documents cited in this 
notice may be viewed, by appointment, during regular business hours, at 
the aforementioned address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brian D. Hopper, Office of Protected 
Resources, NMFS, 301-427-8401.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Availability

    An electronic copy of the application containing a list of the 
references used in this document may be obtained by writing to the 
address specified above, telephoning the contact listed below (see FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT), or visiting the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.htm.
    Documents cited in this notice may be viewed, by appointment, 
during regular business hours, at the aforementioned address.

Background

    In the case of military readiness activities (as defined by section 
315(f) of Public Law 107-314; 16 U.S.C. 703 note), sections 
101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the 
Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to allow, upon request, the 
incidental, but not intentional, taking of marine mammals by U.S. 
citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial 
fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are 
made and regulations are issued, or if the taking is limited to 
harassment an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) is issued. Upon 
making a finding that an application for incidental take is adequate 
and complete, NMFS commences the incidental take authorization process 
by publishing in the Federal Register a notice of a receipt of an 
application for the implementation of regulations or a proposed IHA.
    An authorization for the incidental takings may be granted if NMFS 
finds that the total taking during the relevant period will have a 
negligible impact on the species or stock(s), and will not have an 
unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or 
stock(s) for

[[Page 38596]]

subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of 
taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and 
reporting of such takings are set forth to achieve the least 
practicable adverse impact.
    NMFS has defined ``negligible impact'' in 50 CFR 216.103 as: * * * 
an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be 
reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely 
affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of 
recruitment or survival.
    With respect to military readiness activities, the MMPA defines 
``harassment'' as: (i) Any act that injures or has the significant 
potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild 
(Level A harassment); or (ii) any act that disturbs or is likely to 
disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing 
disruption of natural behavioral patterns, including, but not limited 
to, migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or behavioral 
patterns are abandoned or significantly altered (Level B harassment).

Summary of Request

    On December 30, 2011, NMFS received an application from the U.S. 
Air Force requesting an authorization for the take of marine mammals 
incidental to PSW and AS gunnery testing and training operations. The 
requested regulations would establish a framework for authorizing 
incidental take in future Letters of Authorization (LOA). These LOAs, 
if approved, would authorize the take, by Level A (physiological) and 
Level B (behavioral) harassment, of Atlantic bottlenose dolphin 
(Tursiops truncatus) and Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) 
incidental to PSW testing and training activities. Takes of dwarf sperm 
whale (Kogia simus), pygmy sperm whale (K. breviceps), Atlantic 
bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Atlantic spotted dolphin 
(Stenella frontalis), pan tropical spotted dolphin (S. attenuate), and 
spinner dolphin (S. longirostris) by Level B harassment would also be 
authorized incidental to AS gunnery testing and training operations. 
PSW missions would involve air-to-surface impacts of two weapons: (1) 
The Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile (JASSM) AGM-158 A and B; and 
(2) the small diameter bomb (SDB) (GBU-39/B), which result in 
underwater detonations of up to approximately 300 lbs (136 kg) and 96 
lbs (43.5 kg, double SDB) of net explosive weight (NEW), respectively. 
AS gunnery missions would involve surface impacts of projectiles and 
small underwater detonations. Pursuant to the MMPA, NMFS issued 
regulations and annual LOAs for PSW activities from 2006 to 2011, and 
annual Incidental Harassment Authorizations for AS gunnery activities 
in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Description of the Specified Activities

    This section describes the PSW and AS gunnery testing and training 
missions that have the potential to affect marine mammals present 
within the test area. Both are considered to be a ``military readiness 
activity'' as defined under 16 U.S.C. 703 note, and involve detonations 
above the water, near the water surface, and under water within the 
EGTTR. The PSW missions involve the two weapons identified above, the 
JASSM and SDB, and AS gunnery missions typically involve the use of 25-
mm, 40-mm, and 105-mm gunnery rounds. These activities are described in 
more detail in the following paragraphs.

PSW Missions

    The JASSM is a precision cruise missile designed for launch from a 
variety of aircraft at altitudes greater than 25,000 ft (7.6 km). The 
JASSM has a range of more than 200 nautical miles (370.4 km) and 
carries a 1,000-pound warhead. The JASSM has approximately 300 lbs of 
TNT equivalent net explosive weight (NEW). After launch from the 
aircraft, the JASSM cruises at altitudes greater than 12,000 ft (3.7 
km) for the majority of its flight until making the terminal maneuver 
towards the target. The testing exercises involving the JASSM would 
consist of a maximum of two live shots (single) and four inert shots 
(single) during the year. One live shot will detonate in water and one 
will detonate in air. Detonation of the JASSM would occur under one of 
the following three scenarios: (1) Detonation upon impact with the 
target (about 1.5 m above the water's surface); (2) detonation upon 
impact with a barge target at the surface of the water; or (3) 
detonation at 120 milliseconds after contact with the surface of the 
water.
    The SDB is a GPS-guided bomb that can be carried and launched from 
most USAF aircraft, which makes it an important element of the USAF's 
Global Strike Task Force. The SDB has a range of up to 50 nautical 
miles and carries a 217-lb warhead. The SDB has approximately 48 lbs of 
TNT equivalent NEW. After being released from the aircraft at an 
altitude greater than 15,000 ft (4.6 km), the SDB deploys ``Diamond 
Back'' type wings that increase glide time and range as it descends 
towards the target. Exercises involving the SDB consist of a maximum of 
six live shots with two of the shots occurring simultaneously, and a 
maximum of 12 inert shots with up to two occurring simultaneously.
    Chase aircraft will accompany the launch of JASSM and SDB ordnance. 
Chase aircraft include F-15, F-16, and T-38 aircraft. These aircraft 
would follow the test items during captive carry and free flight, but 
would not follow either item below a predetermined altitude as directed 
by Flight Safety. Other airborne assets on site may include an E-9 
turboprop aircraft or MH-60/53 helicopters circling around the target 
location. Tanker aircraft, including KC-10s and KC-135s, would also be 
used for aerial refueling of aircraft involved in training exercises. 
In addition, an unmanned barge may also be on location to hold 
instrumentation. If used, the barge would be up to 1,000 ft (304.8 m) 
away from the target location.
    Based on availability, there are two possible target types to be 
used for the PSW mission tests. The first is a Container Express 
(CONEX) target (see figure 1-4 in Eglin AFB's application) that 
consists of five containers strapped, braced, and welded together to 
form a single structure. The dimensions of each container are 
approximately 8 ft by 8 ft by 40 ft (2.4 m by 2.4 m by 12.2 m). Each 
container would contain 200 55-gallon steel drums (filled with air and 
sealed) to provide buoyancy for the target. The second type of target 
is a hopper barge, which is a non-self propelled vessel typically used 
for transportation of bulk cargo (see figure 1-5 in Eglin AFB's 
application). A typical hopper barge is approximately 30 ft by 12 ft 
and 125 ft long (9.1 m by 3.7 m and 38.1 m long). The targets would be 
held in place by a 4-point anchoring system using cables.
    PSW testing and training activities conducted by Eglin AFB would 
occur in the northern GOM in the EGTTR. Targets would be located in 
water less than 200 ft (61 m) deep and from 15 to 24 nm (27.8 to 44.5 
km) offshore, south of Santa Rosa Island and south of Cape San Blas 
Site D3-A. PSW test missions may occur during any season of the year, 
but only during daytime hours.

AS Gunnery Missions

    AS gunnery missions involve the firing of 25-mm, 40-mm, and 105-mm 
gunnery rounds from a circling AC-130 gunship. Each round contains 30 
g, 392 g, and 2.1 kg of explosive, respectively. Live rounds must be 
used to produce a visible surface splash that must be used to ``score'' 
the round (the impact of inert rounds on the sea surface would not be 
detected). The U.S. Air Force has

[[Page 38597]]

developed a 105-mm training round (TR) that contains less than 10 
percent of the amount of explosive material (0.16 kg) as compared to 
the ``Full-Up'' (FU) 105-mm round. The TR was developed as one method 
to mitigate effects on marine life during nighttime AS gunnery 
exercises when visibility at the water surface is poor. However, the TR 
cannot be used in the daytime because the amount of explosive material 
is insufficient to be detected from the aircraft. To establish the test 
target area, two Mk-25 flares are deployed or a target is towed into 
the center of a 9.3 km cleared area on the water's surface. A typical 
gunship mission lasts approximately 5 hrs without refueling and 6 hrs 
when air-to-air refueling is accomplished.
    Water ranges within the EGTTR that are typically used for AS 
gunnery operations are located in the GOM offshore from the Florida 
Panhandle (areas W-151A, W151B, W-151C, and W-151D as shown in Figure 
1-9 in the Eglin AFB application). Data indicate that W-151A (Figure 1-
10 in the Eglin AFB application) is the most frequently used water 
range due to its proximity to Hurlburt Field, but activities may occur 
anywhere within the EGTTR. Eglin AFB proposes to conduct AS gunnery 
missions year round during both daytime and nighttime hours.
    Additional information on the Eglin AFB training operations is 
contained in the application, which is available upon request (see 
ADDRESSES).

Information Solicited

    Interested persons may submit information, suggestions, and 
comments related to the U.S. Air Force's request (see ADDRESSES). All 
information, suggestions, and comments related to the U.S. Air Force's 
PSW and AS gunnery testing and training operations request and NMFS' 
potential development and implementation of regulations governing the 
incidental taking of marine mammals by Eglin AFB's PSW and AS gunnery 
testing and training operations will be considered by NMFS in 
developing, if appropriate, the most effective regulations governing 
the issuance of Letters of Authorization.

    Dated: June 22, 2012.
Helen M. Golde,
Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-15925 Filed 6-27-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P