Published Feb. 13, 2019
Expiration date: 3/15/2019

February 13, 2019

The District Commander has received a request to amend an existing permanent danger zone as described below:

Commanding Officer
U.S. Fleet Forces Command
Attn: Mr. James Casey
1562 Mitscher Avenue Suite 250
Norfolk, Virginia 23551-2487

WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The project is located in within the Atlantic Ocean south of the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay adjacent to Naval Air Station Oceana’s Dam Neck Annex in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: The Dam Neck Surface Danger Zone (SDZ) served as a firing range for gunnery training at what is now Naval Air Station Oceana’s Dam Neck Annex. While the Navy continues to use the SDZ for training, fixed-mount gunnery operations have not been conducted there for over 30 years. The proposed amendment is necessary to accurately identify the hazards associated with training and mission operations to protect the public. The proposed amendment will identify the area within the current danger zone boundary where live fire exercises are no longer conducted and no restriction to surface navigation exists. In addition, the proposed amendment will remove references to live fire range conditions and safety procedures as shore-to-sea gunnery operations are no longer conducted. The applicant proposes to modify the existing danger zone in the Navigation Regulations, (33 C.F.R. §334.390), as follows:

334.390 Atlantic Ocean south of entrance to Chesapeake Bay; firing range.

(a) The danger zone.  (1)  A section extending seaward for a distance of 12,000 yards between two radial lines bearing 030º True and 083º True, respectively, from a point on shore at latitude 36º46’48” N, longitude 75º57’24” W; and an adjacent sector extending seaward for a distance of 15 nautical miles between two radial lines bearing 083º True and 150º True, respectively, from the same shore position. The datum for these coordinates is WGS-1984.

(b) The regulation.  (1) To accommodate ingress and egress within the southern approach to the Chesapeake Bay Federal navigation channels, no live fire exercise will take place within the area northeast of, and defined by a line intersecting points latitude 36º47’59” N, longitude 75º46’05” W and latitude 36º44’25” N, longitude 75º38’57” W, and this area is open to unrestricted surface navigation. (2) Within the remainder of the danger zone vessels shall proceed through the area with caution and shall remain therein no longer than necessary for the purpose of transit. (3) When firing is in progress during daylight hours, red flags will be displayed at conspicuous locations on the beach. When firing is in progress during periods of darkness, red flashing lights will be displayed from conspicuous locations on the beach which are visible from the water a minimum distance of four (4) nautical miles. (4) Firing on the ranges will be suspended as long as any vessel is within the danger zone. (5) Lookout posts will be manned by the activity or agency operating the firing range at the Naval Air Station Oceana, Dam Neck Annex, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. After darkness, night vision systems will be utilized by lookouts to aid in locating vessels transiting the area. (6) There shall be no firing on the range during periods of low visibility which would prevent the recognition of a vessel (to a distance of 7,500 yards) which is properly displaying navigation lights, or which would preclude a vessel from observing the red range flags or lights. (7) Throughout the entire danger zone anchoring, dredging, trawling and any bottom disturbing activities should be conducted with caution due to the potential of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other munitions and explosives of concern (MEC) on the bottom. (8) The regulation in this section shall be enforced by the Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Va., and such agencies as he may designate.

AUTHORITY:  Section 7 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1917 (40 Stat. 266; 33 U.S.C. 1) and Chapter XIX of the Army Appropriations Act of 1919 (40 Stat. 892; 33 U.S.C. 3).

FEDERAL EVALUATION OF APPLICATION: The decision whether to create the danger zone will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest.  The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits which reasonably may be expected from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All of the proposal's relevant factors will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use classification, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.

The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Anyone may request a public hearing to consider this permit application by writing to the District Commander within 30 days of the date of this notice, stating specific reasons for holding the public hearing. The District Commander will then decide if a hearing should be held.

Preliminary review indicates that: (l) no environmental impact statement will be required; (2) after conducting the NAO ESA Project Review Process, no listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884), as amended) will be affected.  Based on this no effect determination, no further coordination with the Fish and Wildlife Service is required; and (3) no known properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places are in or near the permit area, or would likely be affected by the proposal. Additional information might change any of these findings. 

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267), requires all Federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). The Atlantic Ocean contains Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for the juvenile and adult life stages of multiple species. The habitat which this project would affect consists of tidal open water.  The proposed project is described in PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE, above. Our assessment of the project leads us to a preliminary determination that it will have no effect on EFH and therefore expanded EFH consultation is not required. Our rationale for this preliminary determination is based on the minimal direct impacts associated with the establishment and modification of danger zones. Based on comments from the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to this public notice, further EFH consultation may be necessary.

COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN:  CENAO-WR-R), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia  23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on March 15, 2019.

PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY: Comments and information, including the identity of the submitter, submitted in response to this Public Notice may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed at the discretion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Information that is submitted in connection with this Public Notice cannot be maintained as confidential by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Submissions should not include any information that the submitter seeks to preserve as confidential.

If you have any questions about this project or the permit process, contact Nicole Woodward at 757-201-7122.

Attachment: Drawings