The whales have been discovered close to HMAS Sydney, which berthed in Naval Base San Diego, the principal house port of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet.
“The Navy takes marine mammal safety seriously and is disheartened this incident occurred,” a press release from the Australian navy mentioned.
The Australian and US navies — together with the US federal NOAA Fisheries, which oversees marine assets — have been investigating the incident, the assertion mentioned.
A NOAA Fisheries reality sheet on fin whales lists them as endangered underneath the Endangered Species Act, with a inhabitants of about 3,200 off the US West Coast. The whales have been as soon as hunted extensively, however at the moment their largest menace is being struck by a ship, the very fact sheet says.
HMAS Sydney is a 481-foot (146.7-meter) guided-missile destroyer with a 7,000-ton displacement, in line with the Australian navy. The ship’s hull extends 23.6 toes (7.2 meters) beneath the waterline.
It’s one of many latest ships within the Australian fleet, commissioned only a yr in the past.
The ship steamed into San Diego on Saturday after testing its fight methods in an train off the California coast, in line with a tweet from the Australian navy.
Whale strikes by naval vessels are uncommon, mentioned Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain.
“Whales can hear ships from miles away and generally avoid ships using mid-frequency and high-powered low frequency sonars because it bothers their hearing,” Schuster mentioned.
Low-frequency sonar can confuse whales in shallower waters, Schuster mentioned — however the Australian ship is supplied with a high-frequency sonar.
However, a NOAA Fisheries report on whale strikes says they will happen because the whales feed and migrate in coastal waters, particularly in heavy delivery lanes like these off Southern California.