The U.S. Navy has a long, proud list of victories and contributions to celebrate this Navy Day (October 27), but the military branch must unmoor itself from the failures of animal experimentation to sail into a brighter future.
Navy Day was founded in 1922 to honor the sailors who ensure our maritime security. Throughout the past century, the Navy has invested in modern technology, such as using AI to improve ship maintenance at sea, and has contributed to sailors’ success by providing continuing education opportunities, apprenticeships, tuition assistance, and other services.
These admirable programs uplift members, but the Navy fails its sailors by wasting resources on pointless decompression sickness/illness and oxygen toxicity experiments on animals.
The Navy is funding these experiments from sea to shining sea at the University of California–San Diego, Duke University, the University of Maryland–Baltimore, and the University of South Florida. In the tests, small, helpless animals are forced to run on a treadmill—and electroshocked if they can’t keep up. Chemicals are injected into their brains and rubbed into their eyes. Their skulls are drilled into, and their rectums are probed. In the end, experimenters kill them, sometimes by bleeding or gassing them to death.
This terror is all part of an attempt to study decompression sickness, more commonly known as “the bends,” but major physiological differences between humans and other animals render these tests useless. That’s why foreign navies, including those of France and the U.K., have ditched such animal testing in favor of superior, animal-free research methods.
What You Can Do
The Navy should only invest in research that benefits its personnel. Please urge it to end decompression sickness/illness and oxygen toxicity experiments on all animals and switch to human-relevant, non-animal tests.