The Cold War ended in 1991. But you might not know it to look at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor.
The base's eight nuclear submarines typically sail on patrol three times a year for up to 100 days at a stretch, much as they did before the Soviet Union disintegrated.
Three of those submarines might be on alert at any given time, and the entire fleet carries enough nuclear warheads on its Trident missiles to obliterate every major city in Russia and China.
Now the Navy wants a $715 million second munitions wharf to accommodate upgrade work on the missiles. The Pentagon is scheduled to issue its final environmental-impact statement early this year, one of the last major hurdles before the four-year construction can begin in July.
That is how Washington Bureau correspondent Kyung Song begins the January 8th Seattle Times front page article Plan for new Navy wharf at Bangor fires up nuke debate. The article takes a serious look at the crux question - "Is the nuclear-sub fleet a "Cold War relic" or a modern deterrent?"
Although the Navy and supporters like Norm Dicks, D-Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, claim the need to go full steam ahead with the new wharf, others are much more skeptical. More than one expert questions the need for the new wharf when it is likely that Bangor will host fewer ballistic missile subs in the future.
Another voice against the project, Tom Rogers, is a retired Navy captain who commanded nuclear submarines during the Cold War. Rogers puts it bluntly in The Times article:
"Why are we doing this? We're spending a whole lot of taxpayer money on a Cold War relic," Rogers said in an interview. "All we are doing is making defense contractors rich."
Rogers, 65, served three decades on attack submarines at Naval Base San Diego. He believes the massive American nuclear stockpile makes little difference to such unstable nuclear states as North Korea or possible would-be player Iran. And it encourages potential enemies such as Russia or China to keep up their own inventory.
"We're not deterring anyone with those weapons right now," Rogers said. "This is ridiculous spending."
The plan for a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor is an integral part of the nuclear weapons debate. It begs the question, What possible benefits could come from U.S. plans to build up its nuclear forces well into the end of this century??? It is time to ask the critical questions about what role (if any) nuclear weapons should play in the nations defense.
Are nuclear weapons, to quote Representative Jim McDermott, an "outdated radioactive relic?" Wouldn't the billions spent on nuclear weapons be better spent on programs of social uplift. Do these omnicidal weapons ensure our security or do they risk the future of life on this planet?
Tom Rogers "contends that fears of a dangerous world and ignorance keep many citizens from asking hard questions about the Trident submarines." It is time for us to overcome the ridiculous fears created by those who benefit from the perpetuation of a nuclear arms race. It is time to ask the hard questions not only about Trident, but about all nuclear weapons.
Toward a world without nuclear weapons,
Read The Seattle Times article Plan for new Navy wharf at Bangor fires up nuke debate at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017193326_navywharf09m.html