August 10, 2016
Peace flotilla and nonviolent direct action at Trident nuclear
submarine base mark anniversary of atomic bombings
Silverdale, Washington: Local peace activists staged a water-based
nonviolent protest and witness for peace in Hood Canal at the Trident
nuclear submarine base on August 9th marking the anniversary of the
atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The activists travelled along the Bangor
waterfront where nuclear warheads and Trident missiles are loaded onto
submarines and where submarines are resupplied for ballistic missile
patrols in the Pacific Ocean. On August 8th activists staged a vigil
and nonviolent direct action in which some activists blocked the
entrance gate to the same Naval base.
The August 9th peace flotilla, named “Boats by Bangor,” included the
original peace ship, the Golden Rule, which set sail in 1958 to the
South Pacific to stop nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere. A
National Project of Veterans for Peace, the Golden Rule continues to
inspire many peacemakers and peace ships around the world.
The Golden Rule, skippered by Rich Giles, led kayaks and another
sailboat, the S/V Silent, along the entire length of the waterfront of
Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, including the Delta Pier and the two
Explosives Handling Wharves at Bangor where Trident submarines are
maintained and nuclear warheads and Trident D-5 missiles are loaded
The peace flotilla included 15 people aboard the Golden Rule, 5 people
on S/V Silent, and 13 kayakers.
The flotilla was a collaborative effort by Ground Zero Center for
Nonviolent Action and Veterans for Peace, and included members of the
annual Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk led by the Bainbridge
Island Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple.
Hood Canal is tightly controlled by the Navy with multiple easements
from State agencies that restrict access and development near the
submarine base, and with a series of federally established security
zones that are enforced by Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps
personnel. Military personnel were courteous and professional in their
interactions with the August 9th peace flotilla.
This was the first year for a large water-based presence since the
first Trident submarine, the USS Ohio arrived at Bangor in 1982. The
flotilla is part of a continuing effort by activists to lift the veil
of secrecy involving nuclear weapons in Puget Sound.
The “Boats by Bangor” event followed an early-morning action on August
8th by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action at the Main Gate to
the Trident submarine base. While people vigiled on the roadside, and
after Ground Zero Peacekeepers safely stopped traffic, four activists
risked arrest by entering the roadway carrying banners and blocking
traffic into the base.
Sue Ablao, Bremerton, WA and Mack Johnson, Silverdale, WA carried a
banner identical to the bus ad currently running on Seattle Metro
Transit buses that reads, “20 miles west of Seattle is the largest
concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.” The banner
included a map with a line drawn from Bangor to Seattle.
Washington State Patrol officers removed Ablao and Johnson from the
roadway, and shortly thereafter two more activists, Philip Davis,
Bremerton WA and George Rodkey, Tacoma WA, entered the roadway
carrying a banner that read “No More Genocide In My Name,” a reference
to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
State Patrol removed Davis and Rodkey from the roadway, and issued all
four activists citations for being in the roadway illegally and
The two-day witness for peace at the nuclear submarine base marked the
71st anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
The Trident submarine base at Bangor employs the largest concentration
of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. and is the home port for 8 of
the Navy’s 14 Trident nuclear powered submarines. More than 1,300
nuclear warheads are deployed on Trident D-5 missiles on SSBN
submarines based at Bangor or stored at Strategic Weapons Facility
Pacific (SWFPAC) at the Bangor submarine base.
One Trident SSBN submarine at Bangor is estimated to carry about 108
nuclear warheads. The W76 and W88 warheads at Bangor are equal
respectively to 100 kilotons and 455 kilotons of TNT in destructive
force. One submarine deployed at Bangor is equal to more than 1,400
Hiroshima sized nuclear bombs.
The nuclear warheads at SWFPAC and on submarines based at Bangor have
the combined explosive power equivalent to more than 14,000 Hiroshima
On March 11, 2016, the 10th bi-annual Nuclear Deterrent Symposium was
held in Silverdale to discuss the future of U.S. strategic forces.
Rear Adm. Charles Richard criticized opposition to the Navy’s $100
billion plan for 12 new replacement SSBN submarines, proclaiming,
“It’s a matter of priorities.” The new SSBNs would replace the
submarines at Bangor. Rear Adm. Richards noted that the USS Ohio
arrived at Bangor in 1982 to much protest, and stated, “We have taken
that [nuclear weapons] out of the national psyche.”
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and Washington Physicians for
Social Responsibility are involved in an environmental lawsuit against
the Navy’s second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor. As a result of
the lawsuit, plaintiffs discovered that while the Navy insisted the
second wharf posed no new safety risk at the base, the federal agency
responsible for explosives siting refused to grant approval. The case
was filed in federal court in June 2012 and is currently pending in
the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
On December 14, 2015, the Navy filed a lawsuit in federal court to
block the release of emergency response plans that might benefit the
public in the case of a nuclear accident at Bangor. The lawsuit is
The U.S. is currently spending more on nuclear weapons programs than
during the height of the Cold War.
The U.S. currently plans to spend an estimated $1 trillion dollars
over 30 years for rebuilding the nation’s nuclear facilities and
modernizing nuclear weapons.
The New York Times reported that the U. S., Russia and China are
aggressively pursuing a new generation of smaller and less destructive
nuclear weapons. The buildups threaten to revive a Cold War-era arms
race and unsettle the balance of power among nations.
On May 27, 2016, President Obama spoke in Hiroshima and called for an
end to nuclear weapons. He said that the nuclear powers “…must have
the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without
them.” Obama added, “We must change our mindset about war itself.”
On July 30, 2016, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki sent a letter
to the U.S. Embassy in Japan asking U.S. President Obama to step up
his nuclear disarmament efforts.
The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977. The
center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Bangor,
Washington. Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action offers the
opportunity to explore the roots of violence and injustice in our
world and to experience the transforming power of love through
nonviolent direct action. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially
the Trident ballistic missile system.