Offshore area designated ‘naval danger zone’

A 206-acre area offshore from Coronado was designated Wednesday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a “naval danger zone” off-limits to boaters when a small arms range is in use at Naval Air Station North Island.

The fan-shaped zone, which was established to protect the public from munitions that could ricochet into the Pacific Ocean during small arms firing, extends offshore from NAS North Island, near the entrance to San Diego Bay, just south of the Zuniga Jetty, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

During live fire exercises, boats will be required to vacate the area.

The Navy will notify boaters when the firing range is in use through radio communication, a Web site, warning flags and flashing red lights, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Capt. Yancy Lindsey, commanding officer of Naval Base Coronado, said the firing range at NAS North Island plays an important role in training Navy personnel, and the zone is necessary to guarantee public safety.

“We worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and members of the public to understand the multi-use nature of the waters off of North Island and establish the danger zone to protect the public and military during range use,” he said.

The danger zone will be open to fishing and general navigation when no weapons firing is scheduled.

The range, which includes a 12-lane pistol range and 10-lane rifle range surrounded by large berms, has existed since 1958, but was closed by the Navy in 2008 pending the establishment of the danger zone.