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Navy resumes sonar training off California

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Navy has resumed sonar training off the coast of Southern California as the government and environmentalists battle in court over how the exercises affect whales and other marine mammals.

The training by the carrier strike group of the USS Abraham Lincoln is part of a broader exercise to prepare the group for deployment, the Navy said in a news release.

During the exercises, which began last Wednesday and were scheduled to last through Friday, sailors train in anti-submarine warfare, ocean security operations and other areas.

Commander Dora Lockwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Third Fleet in San Diego, said the operations were being conducted "within all the regulations."

The anti-submarine warfare exercises use mid-frequency active sonar. Critics say sonar has harmful effects on marine mammals, possibly by damaging their hearing. Some allege the sonar causes whales and other mammals to beach themselves.

A federal judge this month temporarily lifted certain measures designed to lessen the impact of sonar on whales.

The decision came a day after President Bush exempted the Navy from an environmental law in an effort to allow the service to continue anti-submarine warfare exercises. He said the exercises were in the interest of national security.

The Natural Resources Defense Council had sued to force the Navy to lessen the harm of its sonar exercises. In November, a federal appeals court said the sonar problem needed to be fixed.