Southern Boating

This (Earthquake) Is A Test, Only A Test

USS Jackson shock trial off the Florida coast. Photo: U.S. Navy

A 3.7 magnitude earthquake recorded off the Florida coast on July 19th was actually a 10,000-pound explosive charge detonated by the U.S. Navy. The explosion was used in a shock trial test of the USS Jackson roughly 168 nm off shore by Daytona Beach, although the Navy will not confirm the exact, classified coordinates. Shock trial tests are used to determine a ship’s ability to remain seaworthy when faced with the impact of underwater explosions.

Seismographs as far away as Venezuela and locations across the U.S. registered the “earthquake” at 4PM. Differentiating natural quakes versus induced quakes such as those that occur with fracking can be hard for geophysicists to determine. Even scientists were unsure if the seismological event was natural or manufactured. However, once a Navy spokesman reached out and confirmed the time and location of the test, researchers were able to revise the categorization of the explosion.

Boating enthusiasts in the area were issued a warning prior to the test telling them to stay away from the test location. The USS Jackson is a new Independence class of littoral combat ship—designed to conduct anti-submarine and surface countermeasure operations across the globe. The ship also underwent a series of stress tests this summer. The last Navy shock trial tested the USS Mesa Verde in 2008.

The Navy has faced criticism by environmental activist groups for its shock trial tests as well as its use of high-intensity long-range sonar, both of which can disturb and harm a variety of protected marine mammals. In order to comply with environmental regulations, the Navy informed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) about the testing in advance. NOAA’s Southeast Mammal Stranding Network Coordinator was on guard, and teams of observers oversaw the testing to ensure that no protected species were injured.

Southport Wooden Boat Show
Enjoy everything Southport, North Carolina, has to offer at this year’s 7th Annual Southport Wooden Boat Show. The show will take place in and around the charming and historic Old Yacht Basin from 10AM until 4PM. A variety of wooden boats will be on display, and visitors to the show can meet and greet the exhibitors to learn more about the craft of wooden boat building. Visitors will also be able to vote for their favorite boat entry in the People’s Choice Award.

Little sailors can try their hand at building their own boats (with or without assistance) and test their seaworthiness at the popular Nauti-kids events. Presented by the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport, staff and volunteers will be around to assist any participants as they build and paint their own vessels. The North Carolina Aquarium will also have a booth on display where children can see a showcase of live animals such as hermit crabs, snails, anemones, sea stars, and other sea creatures that can all be discovered just off the coast of North Carolina. Stop by the station to learn more about the area’s interesting and diverse wildlife. southportwoodenboatshow.com

By Susanna Botkin, Southern Boating Magazine September 2016