Drone/Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Regulations

​Click here to fill out a launch notification form

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At the request of the US Navy, due to concerns regarding repeated flights of private drones over their military installations, Kitsap County reviewed and passed regulations to limit these potential threats to national security.

After an extensive public process, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners passed Ordinance 571-2019, which requires drone operators to register their launches with the US Navy in advance. Maps of the regulated areas around each of the five Naval bases (Bangor, Keyport, Bremerton, Manchester Fuel Depot and Naval Hospital) can be found on linked to the right.

As of September 10, 2019, drones that launch or land within these notification areas are required to notify the Navy, using this form. Each form is valid for 12 hours and drones are allowed to launch immediately after electronic submission. These regulations to not affect all other state and federal regulations regarding drone flights in US airspace.

BACKGROUND

Naval Base Kitsap has multiple facilities throughout Kitsap County including Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Naval Submarine Base Bangor, Keyport Underwater Warfare Center, Naval Hospital Bremerton and the Manchester Fuel Depot. These facilities are key military assets for national defense and a substantial piece of the Kitsap County economy.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems, also known as unmanned aircraft, UAS, or drones, are devices that are used for flight in the air with no onboard pilot. These systems can be as simple as a remotely controlled model aircraft used for recreational purposes or as complex as surveillance aircraft flying over hostile areas in warfare.

Recently, the recreational use of UAS have grown in popularity and sophistication. Retail UAS no longer must be line of sight to operate or have limited battery life. New models have flight cameras and battery life allowing longer distance flight out of the range of the operator's vision.

UAS may be operated to intentionally or unintentionally cause harm and event disruption and may be utilized in the planning and execution of a wide variety of criminal or terrorist activity. UAS have the capability to monitor and record individuals, groups and populations, and intercept and record data generated by individuals, such as cell-phone calls and text messaging.

Specifically, use of UAS in and around military facilities is of significant concern to the US Navy due to potential threats to national security.

In January 2015, the FAA released guidance for local law enforcement in dealing with unauthorized UAS operations which acknowledges the role of local regulation on UAS and local law enforcement activities in regulating these operations. While the FAA limits local regulations regarding the flight of UAS, they do not restrict local jurisdictions regulating the launching or landing of these craft. Other jurisdictions nationwide have developed ordinances to restrict or outright prohibit these uses near military facilities.