I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Close call for nuclear missile sub in local waters!

One of the nation's ballistic missile submarines (homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor), loaded with Trident D-5 nuclear armed missiles, had a close call not far from Seattle in the Strait of Juan de fuca a little more than two months ago.  You can read about it in the news story below.  I've also included links to a couple of other stories on the incident.  As for the Navy replacing the Commanding Officer of the submarine involved in the incident - When dealing with the greatest destructive force ever conceived there is no margin for error.  You don't get second chances with nukes.

Nuclear sub narrowly avoided collision in Strait of Juan de Fuca, newspaper reports*

By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News
December 25, 2011

PORT ANGELES — A nuclear-powered submarine narrowly avoided colliding with a cargo ship in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in October, according to the Navy Times.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that the USS Kentucky, a ballistic-missile sub based at Bangor, was traveling at periscope depth when it came within 900 yards of a 839-foot-long cargo ship on Oct. 12.

The officer of the deck had failed to check for other vessels while making a course change, the Navy Times said.

Both ships turned to avoid colliding.

The crew of the Kentucky became aware of the danger after being hailed by another vessel, asking if they had contacted the merchant ship to arrange passage.

The captain of the cargo ship, the Midnight Sun, which was crossing in front of the sub, had noticed the periscope and ordered the ship to turn left, helping to avoid a collision.

The Kentucky’s bow swung clear of the ship, the newspaper reported, but the stern was in danger of striking the vessel.

The sub’s commander, Joseph Nosse, ordered use of more rudder to “check the ship’s swing.”

The newspaper did not say where in the Strait the incident occurred.

In an email, a Navy spokesman declined to provide the location or additional information, adding “it is U.S. Navy policy not to discuss specific submarine operations.”

Coast Guard spokespeople could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Nosse was relieved of his position in October after the incident and reassigned to Submarine Group 9, the newspaper said.

He was replaced by Capt. Paul Skarpness, head of Submarine Squadron 17.

A Navy spokesperson told the newspaper the decision did not arise solely from the near-miss but from multiple “shortfalls in professional performance.”

The newspaper said the control room had a made series of accumulating errors, including confusing the inbound cargo ship as an outgoing vessel, and the commanding officer, concerned about a trawler, ordering a change of course but not saying in which direction.


*Article found at http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20111225/news/312259992/nuclear-sub-narrowly-avoided-collision-in-strait-of-juan-de-fuca
Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

Other stories on this incident:

Near miss with merchant ship led to submarine commander's firing, by Ed Friederich, The Kitsap Sun, December 14, 2011

Near-miss cited in firing of sub CO, by Sam Fellman, Navy Times, December 21. 2011

Why Joseph Nosse Lost His Command: Bangor N-Sub Almost Collides with Cargo Ship in Strait, By Rick Anderson, Seattle Weekly, December 27 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Trident replacement: Can you say "UNAFFORDABLE"???

U.S. Defense Conference Bill Seeks New Submarine Cost Assessment

Dec. 16, 2011
By Elaine M. Grossman
Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON -- A U.S. House-Senate conference bill on fiscal 2012 defense policy matters calls for a new government estimate of the costs to develop, build and operate a planned Navy ballistic-missile submarine that some experts warn could prove unaffordable (see GSN, Oct. 12).

Within six months of the legislation’s enactment, the Navy secretary and the military head of U.S. Strategic Command are to submit a joint report on the so-called SSBN(X) submarine, which is to replace today’s 14 Ohio-class nuclear weapon-carrying boats. Gen. Robert Kehler, who commands the Omaha, Neb.-based military organization, would have operational control over submarine-loaded nuclear weapons if they were ever used in combat.

The provision adapts an earlier demand in the House-passed version of 2012 defense authorization legislation; the Senate version had included no similar requirement. The new conference bill is the result of negotiations between Armed Services committee lawmakers from each chamber.

The bill passed Congress in a 283-136 House vote on Wednesday evening and an 86-13 Senate vote on Thursday afternoon. Having withdrawn a veto threat over language on handling of detainees, the president was expected soon to sign the bill into law.

The legislation omits earlier House language that the White House said could have tied its hands in setting the nation’s nuclear-weapon policies and implementing the U.S.-Russian New START arms control agreement, which entered into force earlier this year (see GSN, Dec. 14).

The Navy-Strategic Command report is to assess several options for the quantity of SSBN(X) submarines to be built and how many missiles each vessel should carry. Navy leaders have said that 12 planned Ohio-class replacement submarines are to initially be capable of carrying 16 of today’s Trident D-5 ballistic missiles, but that a next-generation missile replacing the D-5 might later be fielded aboard the same submarines.

Force structure alternatives to be considered in the upcoming report include a fleet of 10 or 12 submarines, with each boat containing 16 missile tubes; or a fleet of eight or 10 submarines, with each boat containing 20 missile tubes, the conference report states. The assessment could also include “any other options the secretary and the commander consider appropriate,” according to the text.

“The report would be required to assess the procurement cost and total life-cycle cost of each option, the ability for each option to meet Strategic Command‘s at-sea requirements that are in place as of the date of enactment of this act and any expected changes to such requirements, and the ability for each option to meet nuclear employment and planning guidance in place as of the date of enactment of this act and any expected changes to such guidance,” the legislation reads.

The Defense Department document “would also be required to include a description of the postulated threat and strategic environment used to inform selection of a final option, as well as how each option provides flexibility for responding to changes in the threat and strategic environment,” according to the bill.

The congressional mandate for an appraisal of the planned submarine’s military requirements and specifications, as measured against anticipated threats, comes as the Pentagon is conducting a behind-closed-doors study on possible changes to nuclear targeting and strategy. The "NPR Implementation Study," based on a major Nuclear Posture Review that the Pentagon issued last year, is due for completion this month but not expected to be released publicly (see GSN, Nov. 8).

The Congressional Budget Office projected in June that the cost to develop and build the new submarines would total roughly $100 billion. Of that figure, $86 billion would be required for submarine procurement alone. The Navy differs with this figure, estimating instead that acquisition costs for the new fleet would total less than $76 billion, according to an Arms Control Association fact sheet.

A Defense Department decision memorandum on the SSBN(X) program, signed in February by then-Pentagon acquisition czar Ashton Carter, revealed a total cost estimate of $347.2 billion for the 12-submarine plan, the independent newsletter Inside the Pentagon reported that month. However, the figure cited by Carter -- now the deputy Defense secretary -- included anticipated expenditures not only for development and procurement but also operation of the new submarine fleet over its projected 50-year life span.

The price tag was the Pentagon’s first publicly known total cost estimate for the SSBN(X) and substantially exceeded earlier independent estimates, the publication reported at the time.

Some critics see potential for lower expenditures if the objectives for the program are tailored back.

“The United States can rightsize the current and future ballistic missile submarine fleet” to eight submarines and “save $27 billion over 10 years," or “$120 billion over the life of the program,” Tom Collina and Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association said in a recent issue paper. 
The Trident ballistic missile submarine USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) returning to homeport Naval Base Kitsap, Bangor following a patrol. Bangor is homeport to 8 of the Navy's 14 ballistic missile submarines.  Photo by Ray Narimatsu, Northwest Navigator          
Going from 12 to eight SSBN(X) submarines would still “allow the Pentagon to deploy the same number of sea-based warheads -- about 1,000 -- as planned under New START," the analysts said in the Dec. 2 piece.

These and other nongovernmental number-crunchers have attracted some support in Congress. Led by Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.), a group of 64 lawmakers in October wrote to the congressional deficit-reduction “super committee” to recommend that $200 billion be cut from the U.S. nuclear weapons budget over the next decade.

“At any one time there are up to 12 Trident submarines cruising the world’s seas,” the letter stated. “Each submarine carries an estimated 96 nuclear warheads. Each submarine is capable of destroying all of Russia’s and China’s major cities. Why then do we need all of these weapons?”

“There is no good reason,” the correspondence continued. “America no longer needs, and cannot afford, this massive firepower.”

In a Nov. 14 letter to lawmakers, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that if a deal could not be struck to avoid a budget sequester, he would be forced to take a number of “devastating” reductions to military budgets in coming years. Ramifications could include a delay in the SSBN(X) effort and a reduction to 10 of the submarines for an estimated savings of $7 billion, he said.

Panetta also said a sequester -- which would force the federal government to reduce its budget by $1.2 trillion beginning in 2013 -- could result in the elimination of the entire U.S. fleet of 450 ICBMs and delay development of a next-generation, nuclear-capable bomber aircraft (see GSN, Nov. 15).

The bipartisan super committee announced in late November that its members could not agree how to reduce the federal deficit, leaving open the possibility that a sequester will materialize.

Even if sequestration is averted through a future political deal on Capitol Hill, the White House has told the Pentagon it must assess how it would trim its budget by $450 billion over the next 10 years.

The spending-review process is pitting military services against one another for a share of the budget pie, and even within each branch bitter fights are emerging to determine which programs and line items will survive the cost-cutting axe, according to defense sources. The budget drills have led some sectors of the Navy to question whether the planned 12 new ballistic-missile submarines would place an undue burden on the service’s ability to keep a modern fleet of surface ships afloat, some experts and officials said.

“If they can’t figure out how to get the Ohio-class submarines funded without destroying the Navy shipbuilding plan, then the rest of the Navy’s going to kill the [Ohio-class] replacement program or dramatically reduce the number of boats,” said one defense consultant who asked not to be named in discussing the ongoing Pentagon deliberations.

In July, Kehler -- the top strategic military commander -- cited the new submarines among several military procurement efforts that he and other “fairly senior people” had determined might be too costly “to be able to go forward with."

Under pressure from the Defense secretary’s office and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Navy has been working to reduce its anticipated expenditures in the SSBN(X) effort.

“Our commitment is to bring that cost down,” aiming to drop the price to between $4 billion and $5 billion per submarine, Adm. Gary Roughead, then-chief of naval operations, in March told a House Appropriations subcommittee. “We have brought the price down from when we began that process.”

“Recognizing growing budget constraints, “we have already embarked on a program of aggressively challenging capability improvements and design and construction practices to identify means to deliver this important capability at least cost,” Navy acquisition officials stated in written testimony to a Senate Armed Services subcommittee this past May.

In the February decision memo, Carter reportedly acknowledged that last year’s Nuclear Posture Review called for a possible reduction from today’s 14 Ohio-class submarines to a 12-vessel fleet by the end of the decade.

“I understand, however, that changes to the future security environment could create the possibility for a lower or higher required number of [Ohio replacement] submarines,” stated the Carter memo, according to a review of the document by Inside the Pentagon. “Analysis of the potential to change the number of submarines will be made as the program progresses.”

*Editor's Note: Original article at http://www.nti.rsvp1.com/gsn/article/us-defense-conference-bill-seeks-new-submarine-cost-assessment/?mgh=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nti.org&mgf=1

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Air Force nuclear transport work falls short at JBLM

Hot off the presses - The Olympian reported yesterday that the active-duty Air Force wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord that transports nuclear weapons - and just happens to be the only one that does - received an "unsatisfactory" rating following a week long inspection that concluded on Monday.

The article said that the rating resulted from an "isolated incident involving an individual assigned to the mission." Of course, with nuclear weapons there really is NO margin for error, so even an "isolated incident" is significant. No second chances with nukes!!!
62nd Airlift Wing Airmen secure a nuclear cargo training aid inside a C-17 aircraft during a  nuclear airlift mission training exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Casey Collier)

Even with the unsatisfactory rating, you can be sure that the Lewis-McChord nuke movers will continue their mission. After all, they've got a monopoly on the business!  On a positive note, the Prime Nuclear Airlift Force (PNAF) has won safety awards 12 times in 13 years according to its own reporting.  But Then again, when you move "32,000 pounds of nuclear or nuclear-related cargo worldwide" in a single year, nothing short of perfection is acceptable.

Read the article at The Oregonian: Air Force nuclear transport work falls short JBLM: Team tasked with highly sensitive missions gets ‘unsatisfactory’ grade.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Last Day to comment on Second Explosives Handling Wharf Draft EIS

Today is the last day to submit comments on the Supplement to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) regarding the proposed Trident Naval Base Explosive Handling Wharf (EHW).  We hope to stop this unnecessary and wasteful project.  You can submit your comments directly at the Navy's Website at www.nbkeis.com/EHW.  If you submitted comments on the previous DEIS you can resubmit those comments or add additional comments.

If you need help writing you own comments, here is what Anabel Dwyer submitted:

The Supplement to the Draft EIS regarding the proposed Trident Naval Base Explosive Handling Wharf (EHW) ignores central comments made on the inadequate scope of the Draft EIS. These comments pointed out the known and intended catastrophic environmental consequences of any accidental or purposeful detonation of the Trident nuclear weapon nuclear or conventional explosives. 

The Trident nuclear weapons system including supporting operations such as the EHW are intended and known to be active plans, preparations for threat or use of  uncontrollable and indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction. As such the Trident nuclear system also violates the fundamental rules and principles of humanitarian law (the laws of war)to which the Navy and the US are bound.

For many reasons these proposed construction projects must be abandoned or at least delayed so that the scope of the EIS can be broadened based on honest assessment of facts and law.

1. The Purposes of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to “encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man” (Sec. 2 [42 USC § 4321]) cannot be met by an EIS or Supplemental EIS which ignores the grave and catastrophic environmental impact of accidental or purposeful detonation of the Trident nuclear and conventional explosives. 
2. The EHW can not at once “prevent damage to the environment and stimulate the health and welfare of man” and at the same time meet the “requirements” of the current and future Trident Ballistic Missile program. The Trident and the EHW are for maintaining active preparations and “exercises” to eliminate tens of millions of people and destroy the ecosystem of the planet.
3. Constant threat, preparation for nuclear annihilation is well understood to be environmentally, legally and morally unacceptable and untenable. The Trident nuclear weapons program can no longer be glossed over or justified as needed or usable for any “strategic deterrent mission.” 
4. The accidental or purposeful detonation of even one of the 4 100 kiloton W-76 nuclear warheads on each of the 24 D-5 missiles on each of the 8 Trident submarines operating in and from the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base is known and intended to unleash vast heat, blast and radiation at least 7 times that of the Hiroshima bomb.
5. The heat, blast and radiation of even one of the W-76 warheads are uncontrollable and indiscriminate in space or time.
6. The Trident is in plain language a grotesque weapon of mass destruction that violates the Navy’s absolute prohibition against weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets.
7. Because of the extreme danger of nuclear weapons to our common environment and life on this planet, the United States and all other countries have a legal obligation to “pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects.”

For these reasons among many others we ask you to further extend the scope of your EIS and call hearings on these central and now well understood issues.

Here are a few additional points you can bring up as well:

In its environmental assessment, the Navy stated the 1,250 to 1,500 pilings for the wharf and overwater structure will cause "insignificant" cumulative impacts to Hood Canal. The Navy has not adequately addressed the impacts of the pilings.

One of the four added buildings to the proposed second Explosives Handling Wharf is a new pure water facility for the submarines that covers approximately 0.5 acres along the shoreline of Hood Canal. There is minimal information on this or any other of the new proposed buildings.

The Navy continues to ignore the significant environmental effects of a detonation of the conventional fuel and the possible radioactive contamination (plutonium!!!) that could result due to a missile handling accident. An major incident on November 7, 2004 at Bangor that involved a ladder penetrating a nose cone of a Trident missile, coming within inches of a warhead is a graphic example of this unaddressed envioronmental hazard.

The Navy has acknowledged that it has loaded Trident submarines at the Bangor submarine base for nearly 30 years with the existing wharf. It now claims that it needs the wharf for the so-called Life Extension Program for the Trident D-5 missile. The Navy has stated that in the future, it will need twice the number of "operational days" to handle its 130,000-pound missiles as it does now. Based on the current reduced number of warheads deployed on Trident D-5 missiles (4 versus the previous 8) coupled with the Navy's plans for a replacement ballistic missile submarine the will carry fewer missiles, there is absolutely no need for a replacement wharf based on this rationale.

Submit your comments directly at the Navy's Website at www.nbkeis.com/EHW. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Comment on the Second Explosives Handling Wharf by November 21st!

Many of you have received a postcard from the Navy regarding the availability of the Supplement to the Draft EIS. The Supplement constitutes a delay in the Navy’s EIS program and was required due to omissions in the Draft EIS and new information for assessing impacts to the marbled murrelet, an endangered bird in Hood Canal. The 74-page Supplement is at http://ehw.nbkeis.com.

The comment period for the Supplement to the Draft EIS is through November 21, 2011. Comments may be submitted online at:


or by mail to:

Christine Stevenson, EHW-2 EIS Project Manager
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest
1101 Tautog Circle
Silverdale, WA 98315-1101

There are many issues that can be raised. If you are inclined to submit another statement, it is worthwhile. A sustained effort will be necessary to delay and hopefully stop the second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor.

The Navy addresses three issues, and the website states, “the Supplement addresses the methodology used to assess the potential for injurious impacts to the marbled murrelet from impact pile driving; the construction and operation of four new facilities proposed to be built to replace the functions of five buildings to be demolished and the associated infrastructure; and compensatory mitigation options under consideration in regard to Dabob Bay Conservation and Washington State Parks Mitigation.”

The Navy states that previous comments do not need to be submitted again to be considered in the Final EIS. However, we can comment on any issue we wish, any of the three new issues, or any new issue related to the proposed second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor.

The final deadline for comments on the Draft EIS had been on May 17, 2011. Since that time many issues have changed. The looming defense cuts are a significant issue which may affect the Trident program.

The Congressional Deficit Reduction Committee, or Super Congress, was created on August 2, 2011. The committee is charged with issuing a recommendation by November 23, 2011 for at least $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction steps to be undertaken over a ten‐year period. If the committee fails to agree on a package or the full Congress fails to pass it, a so-called "trigger mechanism" would enact $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts with a split between the national security and domestic programs.

On November 7, 2011, Defense Secretary Panetta announced the consideration of cuts in the nuclear weapons arsenal to help cut DOD spending and balance budgets. These cuts are for the previously announced $450 billion in cuts to defense spending over 10 years. The Deficit Reduction Committee’s cuts to defense spending, or the automatic spending cuts, are in addition to the $450 billion.

Reducing the nuclear arsenal is an obvious choice for the Department of Defense. It is likely the reductions would alleviate the claimed need for the second Explosives Handling Wharf for the Navy. See http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20111107_7226.php and http://www.military.com/news/article/2011/pentagon-takes-preliminary-look-at-nuclear-cuts.html.

We have also witnessed the unfolding of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (tsunami on March 11, 2011) which shows how a publicly accepted technology can suddenly become an unexpected tragedy.

In addition, one of the four added buildings to the proposed second Explosives Handling Wharf is a new pure water facility for the submarines that covers approximately 0.5 acres along the shoreline of Hood Canal. It is surprising how little information is given on the new buildings.

If you are inclined, additional statements on this would help our case. These additional statements, as well as previous statements, will be considered in the Final EIS by the Navy.

(Editor's Note:  Thanks to Glen Milner for this post as well as his continuing work to stop the construction of the Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor.)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tell Senator Murray - Cut Nuke funding!


Our (or should I say Boeing's) Senator Patty Murray is on the Super Duper Committee, and we should definitely take advantage of this opportunity to tell her where we think she should cut funding.  One area that I think she should cut big time is nuclear weapons spending.  Let's face it - Using nuclear weapons would be the biggest mistake of all time, and our continued spending on them is taking money away from truly important things like health care, education and other essential programs of social uplift.

If you agree, then read Patty's invitation below and then click on her comment link to send her a clear message to cut nuclear weapons funding.  Read further for Congresman Edward Markey's letter to his colleagues, along with the letter he hopes they will sign on to the "Super committee" regarding nuclear weapons funding.




Deficit Reduction: I Want to Hear from You

Over the next few months, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will need to find a balanced approach to addressing our debt and deficit, growing our economy, and putting Americans back to work. As Co-Chair of this bipartisan commission, I am working hard to bring members together around a bipartisan plan that works for families in Washington state. But I also know that we have a difficult challenge in front of us and that we need to marshal every idea and resource we can to complete this difficult task. That’s why I want to hear from you.

Please go to my comment form where you can submit your new, innovative, and most importantly – practical – approaches that could be implemented by the Joint Select Committee to help move our country in the right direction. At this critical time for our country your involvement is important to ensuring that we can find common ground solutions that work for real families. I look forward to hearing your ideas.
Dear Colleague,

The Super Committee should target nuclear weapons. Our country plans to spend over $700 billion during the next decade on these archaic weapons of the past. We must cut funding for these weapons, and we must protect our children, our seniors, and our most vulnerable.

The letter below advises the Super Committee to propose substantial cuts to the U.S. nuclear arsenal. I urge you to sign on to this letter. Please have a member of your staff contact Joseph Wender of my staff at x52836 or at Joseph.Wender@mail.house.gov [3] if you would like to sign on or if you have any questions.

Edward J. Markey

Freeze the Nukes, Fund the Future

Dear Members of the Super Committee:

The Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet Union crumbled. The Cold War ended. Yet 20 years later, we continue to spend over $50 billion a year on the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This makes no sense. These funds are a drain on our budget and a disservice to the next generation of Americans. We are robbing the future to pay for the unneeded weapons of the past. Now is the time to stop fighting last century’s war. Now is the time to reset our priorities. Now is the time to invest in the people and the programs to get America back on track.

The Super Committee is best positioned to cut this outdated radioactive relic. The Soviets are long gone, yet the stockpiles remain. The bombs collect dust, yet the bills are with us to this day. We call on the Super Committee to cut $20 billion a year, or $200 billion over the next ten years, from the U.S. nuclear weapons budget. This cut will enable us to stay safe without further straining our budget. This cut will improve our security. This cut will allow us to continue funding the national defense programs that matter most.

Consider how this savings compares to vital programs on which Americans rely. We spend approximately $20 billion per year on Pell Grants to help students pay for college. We spend $5 billion to ensure that Americans do not freeze in their homes during the winter. We need to freeze our nuclear weapons, and fuel our stalled economy.

The Ploughshares Fund estimates that the U.S. will spend over $700 billion on nuclear weapons and related programs over the next ten years. Nuclear weapons and missile defense alone will consume over $500 billion. We can no longer justify spending at these levels. We can save hundreds of billions of dollars by restructuring the U.S. nuclear program for the 21st century.

Our current arsenal totals over 5,000 nuclear warheads. This enormous stockpile will allow us to annihilate our enemies countless times. At any one time there are 12 Trident submarines cruising the world’s seas. Each submarine carries 24 nuclear weapons. Each submarine is capable of destroying all of Russia’s and China’s major cities. Why then do we need all of these weapons? There is no good reason. America no longer needs, and cannot afford, this massive firepower.

The Super Committee should not reduce funding to vital programs relied upon by millions of Americans. Cut Minuteman missiles. Do not cut Medicare and Medicaid. Cut nuclear-armed B-52, B-1, and B-2 bombers. Do not cut Social Security. Invest in the future, don’t waste money on the past.

We do not need to maintain our current level of nuclear weapons to secure our country. The President agrees. The Senate agrees. The New START treaty will reduce our level of deployed strategic warheads to 1,550. This is a 25 percent cut from today’s levels. Fewer nuclear weapons should equal less funding.

We should not cut entitlement programs first. We should not target our seniors, our children, and our sick first. Instead we should target outdated and unnecessary nuclear weapons. Let’s freeze the nukes so we can fund the future.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Don't desecrate World Peace Day with ICBM Launch!!!

Update (9/16/2011): The US Air Force has just announced that this test will not take place on the International Day of Peace!!!  The message got through! They have not yet announced a new date for the test.

In the meantime, please consider sending a message opposing continued reliance on the theory of nuclear deterrence


In a post at the Nuclear Abolitionist I've urged people to send messages to President Obama urging him to cancel the scheduled test launch of a nuclear warhead-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (Minuteman III) on September 21st, the International Day of Peace.

We still have roughly FIVE days left to convince the President that this is just another bad idea that will only serve to counter efforts toward non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and global disarmament.

Click here to read David Krieger's article, US Plans Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Test on International Day of Peace.
Please click here to learn more and to send your message to President Obama.



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Continuing Jackie Hudson's Work: Going back to the scene of the (government's) crime

Dear Friends,

PaxChristi Denver is sponsoring a memorial service October 8th for Sister Jackie Hudson at the N8 missile site in Colorado where Jackie, Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert carried out a Plowshares action in Oct. 2002 known as Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II.  They honor her legacy by their actions.  Let us all honor that legacy through our own actions for a peaceful and nuclear weapons-free world.

Click here to view or download the poster/flyer below as a PDF file.  Many thanks to everyone at PaxChristi Denver for their continuing witness for peace and nuclear abolition, and for honoring Jackie's memory in this way.



Monday, August 15, 2011

Photos & Video of Jackie Hudson's Memorial


Last Saturday people gathered at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action to celebrate the life of a fellow peacemaker and nuclear abolitionist, Jackie Hudson, OP. It was more than the typical memorial. This one included tying origami cranes to the fence bordering the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base and a vigil at the gate to that base. It was what one does to honor someone who spent her life giving so much of her own for the sake of others. Here are my photos of the day as well as a video by Mike McCormick; it was quite a day.




Friday, August 12, 2011

Photos of Ground Zero's Hiroshima/Nagasaki Weekend


The weekend in which we commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only time nuclear weapons have ever been exploded in an act of war, is a memory now. The World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs has adjourned, and events honoring the memory of the victims of the bombings, remembering victims of nuclear weapons development and testing, and working for a nuclear weapons-free world are over.

This year, perhaps more than ever in recent years, I felt an urgency in our recalling the memories of our violent atomic past in order to prevent such a future.  We hear constantly in the mainstream press of the concerns over North Korea, Iran and Pakistan.  And yet the U.S. and Russia continue to maintain nuclear weapons ready to launch on warning.  The U.S. continues to pursue modernization across the board at all of its nuclear weapons research and production facilities, and it is laying plans for new nuclear weapons delivery systems even as it modernizes the very weapons they would carry.

So we who work for nuclear abolition continue to resist - to lay our own plans for a world without fear, a world where people and nations live together in peace, a world without need for weapons capable of destroying the world itself.  This past weekend the community of peacemakers at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington came together to continue our work. 

This year, in addition to fellowship, nonviolence training, vigils and nonviolent direct action at the Trident nuclear submarine base next door we heard a clear message from Congressman Dennis Kucinich who spoke to us on Sunday:  "that it is our responsibility to make war itself obsolete through direct action and through concrete steps that can take is in the direction of peace."  Kucinich also set out concrete recommendations including cancelling plans for 12 new ballistic missile submarines that would operate through the year 2082.

Speaking of memories, here are slide shows of this past weekend's events at Ground Zero.  I split the photos into 1) the daytime events on Sunday, 2) evening on Sunday, including Kucinich's speech, and 3) Monday morning's vigil and action.  Enjoy!



Note:  You can watch each slideshow full-screen.  Just click on the image, and then click "Slideshow" at the top left.

Sunday, Part 1 - including vigil at Kitsap Mall


Sunday, Part 2 - Music and Dennis Kucinich


Monday - Vigil and Action at Bangor

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Loose nuke sighted on roadway at submarine base


If you've never seen a Trident II (D-5) missile up close you have to check out this video of peace activists from Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action attempting to block Monday morning traffic entering Naval Base (where the Nukes are) Kitsap-Bangor, home of the really big nukes.  They used a full-scale inflatable model of a Trident II (D-5).  Besides being a little squishy it gives one a sobering perspective on the size of the real thing, 24 of which sit in launch tubes aboard each of the eight Trident (Ohio class) nuclear submarines based at Bangor.  Each missile carries up to eight warheads, although they probably only carry four these days as we make a token effort toward drawing down our still massive nuclear arsenal.  By the way; one of these subs could easily incinerate the residents of an entire continent (I know that's a little graphic, but let's face facts).

Well, enjoy this video of Monday morning's vigil and nonviolent direct action courtesy of ace videographer Todd Boyle.  You can read more about the action at a previous post.



Monday, August 8, 2011

Dennis Kucinich speaks at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action


The weekend commemorating the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is over.  For all of us at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action it was a particularly poignant weekend.  We had just lost a longtime member and one of the great peace activists of our time, Jackie Hudson, who died last Wednesday.  Earlier in the planning for this weekend we arranged for Dennis Kucinich to visit and speak.  However, it was contingent on Congress adjourning on time, which I assumed would never happen.  It did however, and Dennis showed up.  It was almost as if it was a gift to Jackie, whose spirit was with us throughout the weekend, lifting our spirits and urging us on in our work.

Congressman Kucinich got right to the heart of it as he began his speech:

"The human heart is Ground Zero. It’s in the human heart where blind fear hides in dark chambers. It’s there where murderous intensity is unleashed against our brothers and sisters and the world. It is there where nuclear explosions first take place. It’s there where the world ends.  The world also begins in the human heart. It’s where courage creates new possibilities..."

Todd Boyle captured the entire speech with crisp, clear audio so you won't miss a word of this important speech in which Kucinich states in very clear terms his vision of a world free of fear, free of nuclear weapons and free of war. 



The second video is the question and answer period following the speech.

Read about Congressman Kucinich's visit to Ground Zero at the Kitsap Sun: Kucinich clear on nukes, mum on political plans

Peace activists block road to sub base – Kucinich calls for nuclear abolition

Four peace activists were arrested while attempting to block the entrance to the U.S. Navy's West coast Trident nuclear submarine base.

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons. Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carry 24 Trident II (D-5) missiles, each capable of carrying up to 8 independently targetable warheads. Each nuclear warhead has an explosive yield of between 100 and 475 kilotons (up to 32 times the yield of the Hiroshima bomb).

Members and supporters of Ground Zero Center for NonviolentAction (Ground Zero) in Poulsbo, Washington commemorated the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by vigiling at the New Main Gate entrance to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor while some protesters blocked the entrance during the early morning rush hour on Monday, August 8, 2011, symbolically closing the base.

Demonstrators lined the side of the roadway, many holding signs and banners calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. At 6:45am four participants attempted to block the base entrance roadway using an inflatable full-scale Trident missile. Ground Zero Peacekeepers had already entered the roadway to safely stop traffic, after which the protesters lifted the missile over the barricades marking the designated protest zone.

As the four moved the missile onto the roadway, WashingtonState Patrol officers immediately moved in and attempted to push the missile back towards the designated protest zone. The missile was pushed back and forth on the roadway before State Patrol officers lifted it back over the barricades.
Loose Nuke sighted outside Bangor base!!!
The four missile handlers were arrested, processed at the scene, issued citations for “pedestrian on roadway unlawfully,” and released. Those arrested were Rev. AnneHall of Seattle, WA; Betsy Lamb of Bend, OR; Brenda McMillan of Port Townsend,WA; and Tom Rogers of Poulsbo, WA.
The Nuclear Missile Drill Team (from left): Rev. Anne Hall, Brenda McMillan & Tom Rogers

Tom Rogers is a retired U.S. Navy Captain who once commanded a nuclear submarine. Although active in Ground Zero for many years, this was Rogers’ first nonviolent direct action. Following the action Rogers remembered Sister Jackie Hudson,longtime peace activist, nuclear abolitionist and member of Ground Zero, who died last week. He said that Jackie had a big impact on him and that she helped him to take that first step outside of his comfort zone, and then go just a little further.

A memorial will be held for Hudson at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on Saturday, August 13th at 1:30 pm. Following the memorial, participants will be invited to gather for a vigil at the Bangor entrance gate to honor Hudson.

The weekend commemorating the Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries included a nonviolence workshop, a vigil at the Kitsap Mall, music, and a special appearance by Congressman Dennis Kucinich who spoke to the gathering on Sunday evening. Kucinich spoke passionately about the need to abolish nuclear weapons, and his message was well received!
Kucinich stated that the doctrines of “unilateralism, preemption and first strike must be set aside as profoundly dangerous relics,”and that “it is our responsibility to make war itself obsolete through direct action and through concrete steps, which can take us in a direction of peace.” Regarding nuclear weapons Kucinich said that “we cannot hope to abolish nuclear weapons unless we change the thinking that created those weapons and unless we change dramatically the U.S.role in the world.” Kucinich elaborated on how he would achieve what he referred to as “a new doctrine of strength through peace”,which would rely on diplomacy and other non-military means.

The purpose of the vigil and nonviolent action was to raise awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons and our continuing reliance on them (particularly the Trident nuclear weapons system), and the importance of working towards a nuclear weapons-free world. GZ holds vigils and nonviolent direct actions every year on the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

For over thirty-three years Ground Zero Center for NonviolentAction has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Contact: Leonard Eiger, Media and Outreach
              Ground Zero Center for NonviolentAction

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Photo Tribute to Jackie Hudson


In my sorrow over the loss of our dear Jackie Hudson I found myself going through photos in a sort of meditation on her remarkable, full life.  Since I first posted the photos of the last decade I was able to scan a multitude of photos from Jackie's earlier years.  I hope you enjoy this glimpse into Jackie's life as I have.



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Jackie Hudson - Presente!

My Friends,

Our dear friend and colleague Sister Jackie Hudson died early this morning.  You can read more at Disarm Now Plowshares where we will be posting more information and reflections in the coming days.

from left: Jackie Hudson and Sue Ablao

Joe Power-Drutis summed up Jackie's life beautifully:

To the very end, peacemaking was her road of choice and she walked it well.



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Murray's bringing home some Bad Bacon for Bangor!


My colleague Glen Milner brought this bit of PORK to my attention.  Even as the Navy goes through the motions of the Environmental Impact Statement process, Patty Murray is bringing home the bacon as she sets aside funds for this and other projects in the Fiscal year 2012 appropriations.

Just utter the words "National Security" and everyone, Murray included, jumps.  As Glen reminded me, Patty's Pork is but another link in the chain going back to Senators Magnusen, Jackson, and beyond, ensuring that the Military-Industrial Complex stays strong even as our municipalities are dumpster diving to keep things running. 

Click here to read what the U.S. Conference of Mayors recently had to say about military spending and nuclear weapons.

Increased spending on nuclear weapons - and that is exactly what the Second Explosives Handling Wharf and new Security Force Facility are all about - only serves to destabilize the global non-proliferation regime and wastes precious financial capital that should be serving human needs.

Read all about it.  Then, let Senator Murray know what you think.



NBK to get $135 million, Murray says

By: Greg Skinner, Kitsap Navy News

Naval Base Kitsap is to receive $135 million for infrastructure and capital projects according to U.S. Senator Patty Murray, the senior member of the Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee.

The money, announced by Murray Tuesday, comes as part of a $500 million appropriation for military bases through out Washington state and was included in the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012.
“Ensuring that military installations across the state of Washington have the resources they need to  effectively carry out their missions is critical to the defense of not just our local communities, but the nation as a whole,” said Murray.

“This funding makes significant investments in our military facilities and technologies that will help service members adjust to changing missions and meet the great demands that come with multiple military engagements.”

Broken down, the funding primarily supports projects at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor. The financing covers $25 million for security force facility and $17 million for vehicle barriers to protect the waterfront restricted area at NBK Bangor.

Murray said $78 million has been made available for the second explosives handling wharf. The wharf, which has not received final approval for construction, was already funded to $750 million and is currently in the final phase of environmental review. The announced $78 million is part of the total approved cost and is not actually new, said Murray spokesperson Evan Miller.

Also included is $13 million for the first phase of a dry dock water treatment facility at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

(Source: Kitsap Navy News, http://kitsapnavynews.com/blog/nbk-to-get-135-million-murray-says/721/)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

First Annual Puget Sound Summer Anti-Nuclear Action Guide


In spite of the Summer Solstice it won't officially be summer around much of Puget Sound until July 4th when, for some unkown reason, the sun really does come out and summer can begin.  There are all sorts of summer fun guides floating around, and we've got the First Annual Puget Sound Summer Anti-Nuclear Action Guide for you right here.  Check it out and have some summer fun while working for a nuclear weapon free world right here in your front yard - Puget Sound.

Most of the action is going to happen in August right around the 66th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

INTERFAITH PEACE WALK, July 20th - August 8th 

The Interfaith Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free Future - With Respect for Mother Earth begins in Eugene, Oregon, winding its way through Eastern Washington and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation on its way to Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent action and the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base near Seattle.  The walk is a transformative experience, and you can join in for any part - one, two or more days.  Click here to learn more and see the full schedule.  Check out some photos from last year's walk here.

PEACE FLEET, Wednesday, August 3rd 

This will be the tenth year that the Peace Fleet sails into Elliott Bay to meet the U.S. Navy fleet that will be doing its yearly celebration, promoting the normalcy of modern war.  The fleet is displayed for four days in downtown Seattle at tremendous cost to taxpayers while crucial social services in education, health care, and transportation are being cut for lack of funds.

You can view all the action and participate in a land demonstration at or between 66 and 62/63 down at the Seattle Waterfront.  Better yet, bring your boat (of any type) and join the Peace Fleet - oooh aargh mateys.  For more information contact Glen Milner (206) 365-7865 or Mary Gleysteen (360) 265-1589.  On the day of the event call (206) 979-8319.  Click here to see photos of last year's event. 


The From Hiroshima to Hope Lantern Floating Ceremony at Seattle's Green Lake is an annual peace event honoring the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all victims of war and violence.  From 6:00 to 9:00 pm you can enjoy crane folding, lantern calligraphy, speakers and musical performances, and finally float your own candle-lit lantern on Green Lake at dusk. 

Check it out at the Hiroshima to Hope Facebook page.  You can also download a poster here.


Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action holds its annual even commemorating the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki while working toward a nuclear weapon-free world.  The weekend includes music, nonviolence training, vigil/leafleting at the Kitsap Mall, and culminates with an early Monday morning vigil and nonviolent direct action at one of the gates to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, home to the West Coast Trident ballistic missile submarine fleet, and the largest operational concentrations of nuclear weapons.

This year's theme is "If Not Now, When? Abolish Nuclear Weapons!" Click here for the full schedule of events.  For a printable flyer, click here.  Contact Rev. Anne Hall at 206-545-3562, annehall@familyhealing.com, or Sue Ablao at 360-930-8697, gznonviolencenews@yahoo.com.  See photos of last year's August event here.


Join in the effort to get the mayor of your city to join Mayors for Peace.  The organization, which originated in Japan and with a membership of 4732 cities in 150 countries, works to raise international public awareness regarding the need to abolish nuclear weapons.  The U.S. Conference of Mayors just the other day unanimously called for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  With a tiny percentage of U.S. mayors currently members of Mayors for Peace, it is time to build on the good work of the Conference of Mayors and build the membership here in the Pacific Northwest.

If you are interested in meeting with your mayor, check out our Mayors for Peace support page that has everything you need to know and the resources to make it happen. 


We are also very much in solidarity with the people of Japan whose suffering has been multiplied by orders of magnitude due to the unprecedented nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi.  We support the efforts of the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuikyo) in its struggle against both nuclear weapons and nuclear power; the two are inextricably linked. Click here to sign the Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons.  You can also download a signature form to gather signatures.  They hope to get a huge outpouring of support before the August World Conference in Hiroshima.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Peace Fleet meets U.S. Navy at Seafair on August 3rd in Elliott Bay

Local activists will stage a water-based nonviolent protest against the glorification of weapons of war at the Seattle Seafair festival.  Peace activists will meet the U.S. Navy fleet in Elliott Bay around 1 pm.

Other peace activists will meet on land near Pier 66 on the Seattle waterfront at the same time for a nonviolent demonstration against weapons of war.  Demonstrators on land often meet: on the rooftop of the four story Bell Harbor International Conference Center at Pier 66 with the Navy band and Seafair dignitaries; on Pier 62/63, the open pier just south of Bell Harbor Marina; or between both locations.

The Seafair fleet arrival is a celebration of warships in our harbor and helps to promote the normalcy of modern war.

The fleet arrival at Seafair is a public relations and recruiting event for the U.S. Navy.   Previous years have brought Trident nuclear submarines complete with nuclear warheads and Navy warships used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles in the first and second Wars on Iraq and the War on Afghanistan.  The fleet is displayed for four days in downtown Seattle at tremendous cost to taxpayers while crucial social services in education, health care, and transportation are being cut for lack of funds.

2011 will mark the 10th year the Peace Fleet has met the Navy at Seafair.

Contacts:    Glen Milner (206) 365-7865
                  Mary Gleysteen (360) 265-1589
                  Day of the event (206) 979-8319

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Speaking With Conviction: Statements of MLK Day Nuclear Resisters

On January 15, 2011 six nuclear resisters entered the roadway in front of the gate to the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base.  They approached the gate, crossing the blue line designating the Federal side of the roadway, and when confronted by base security personnel, asked to see the base commander.  Their request was denied, and they were then arrested, processed, issued citations for trespassing and released.

These six nuclear resisters engaged in a direct nonviolent action that day for a variety of individual reasons, yet they all had a shared understanding that the nuclear warheads stored at Bangor and deployed on the Trident submarines home ported there are both immoral and illegal (under both U.S. law and international humanitarian law).

On June 1st they appeared in Federal court to finalize their plea bargains before the judge.  They were allowed to read individual statements, and I share them here.  These statements demonstrate the extraordinary depth of conviction of these individuals, and need to be shared well beyond the courtroom.

Statements read in court by the defendants charged with Trespassing for crossing the blue line at Bangor on January 15, 2011:

Patti Bass

I want to thank the court for allowing me to make this statement.

I am a peaceful patriot.

I believe in the ideals of Democracy and cherish the guaranteed freedoms of the constitution.
I do not believe we must have war to achieve peace

I believe that change comes from peaceful nonviolent means.

Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction. They are illegal under international humanitarian law and under treaties signed by the United States. Nuclear weapons are evil, reprehensible and immoral. I stepped over the Blue line onto Sub Base Bangor because I was compelled to follow my moral convictions against nuclear weapons and war. This was an action of nonviolent peaceful resistance.

To be silent is not an option for me.
Carolyn Dorisdottter

I took this stand for my grandchildren and all the children of the world. Stockpiling of weapons has only led to more stockpiling and more hostility.

We know that the only thing that leads to peace is trust. Trust is verifiable. And that must be what we are about. For the children.
Norm Keegel

The Navy drew a line in the sand (actually a blue line on the pavement) and I stepped over it. Today I pay the consequences.

I'd like to explain why I crossed the Blue Line. I'm afraid of what nuclear weapons can do when they go off, by design or accident. I know what a Hydrogen bomb can do.

Before I went to Bangor my wife pleaded with me not to cross the Blue Line. I struggled with my conscience and in the end my fear won over my love for my wife. I'm sorry for the distress which this caused her.

Recently I've read The Seventh Decade by Jonathan Schell and it gives me some hope. In December 1945 Ronald Reagan agreed to lead a rally on nuclear disarmament. (He didn't because of objections from his studio.) 41 years later, as President, he met with Gorbachev and talked about nuclear disarmament. Both men wanted to abolish the weapons, but sadly they could not agree on the details.

A few years ago the Wall street Journal published an article called "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons". It was written by former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Senator Sam Nunn.

Then there was the START treaty several years ago and the NEWSTART treaty ratified by the Senate about six months ago.

This gives me hope that some day we will abolish these horrible things we created.
Gordon Sturrock

I broke the law deliberately in an act of non-violent civil disobedience with the intent of bringing greater awareness to the horrors and illegalities of nuclear weapons. I'm willing to suffer the consequences of my actions. In addition to my appreciation to this court and the prosecutors for their fair and professional work which has already been mentioned, I would also like to extend my thanks to the Navy personnel who arrested and processed us in a respectful and professional manner.
Sam Tower

Your honor I have been a youth worker all my life, since I was one. I have tried to teach my children and
the children I work with, to be kind, just, and caring to all people, animals, and the planet. A nuclear weapon is not kind, just or caring it is a weapon of mass destruction that is both illegal and immoral. I wont the children to have a place for their great, great, great,great grandchildren to live; not just ash."
Berd Whitlock

I suffer from depression, partly based on the existence of these weapons (and the policies behind them, like global dominance.)

The weapons are destructive. They don't even have to be used to be destructive. Their basic existence is threatening and intimidating, and psychologically destructive, especially when coupled with a submarine platform. Submarines are designed to operate undetected and lurk nearby targets.

My co-defendant said that the way to build peace is through trust. And when our government goes about in a way that is intimidating, it doesn't help build trust.

Traditional efforts to change these policies through elections, politics and lobbying have largely been exhausted.

Our efforts aren't isolated. They are part of a larger need, and a larger effort: a larger movement, to change the way our government treats people and the way our government approaches the world.

Lastly, I want to honor the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.. MLK was the focus of our action. We were at the Bangor Naval Submarine Nuclear Weapons base on Martin Luther King Jr. day. I believe that MLK would support us today if he were still alive.

MLK believed in the necessity for people to participate in civil disobedience when the need is great, when the need is urgent, and when the stakes are high—as is the case regarding U.S. militarism, and its foreign policy of economic supremacy— the result of these policies and practices are the sufferings of so many people, both in the greater world, and here at home for many of us in the U.S.A., whether or not we may know it.

What we did was about civil rights; it was about racial justice; and it was about economic rights and justice. What we did was about justice for everyone in the world.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Test Pile Program is a PILE!!!

The Navy continues pursuing its plans to build a $782 million Second Explosives Handling Wharf at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base. Although the public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) ended on May 17th, the Navy is now soliciting comments on what it deems a separate project - a Test Pile Program for the very same wharf.  Essentially, the two projects are directly connected, and the Test Pile Program will cause needless damage to Puget Sound whether or not the wharf is ever built.

We still have an opportunity to change the direction of this project!  The Navy is quite likely having problems with the environmental review as well as the project.  If you oppose the Navy's plans, here's what you can do:

If you have previously commented on the Test Pile Program, please send your comment again (to the address listed below).

If you previously commented on the Second Explosives Handling Wharf, please send a revised comment or your original comment  (to the address listed below).

If you haven't yet commented on either project please write a brief comment explaining your opposition to the project, whatever the reason.

Comments will be accepted through June 8. They will only accept written comments by postal mail.  Send written comments to:

ATTN: Mr. Thomas Dildine - NEPA Project Manager
Commanding Officer
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest

1101 Tautog Circle
Silverdale, WA  98315

Click here for more details and Glen Milner's excellent, detailed analysis of the Test Pile Program at our Act Up page.  Glen clearly shows how the Navy, in pushing through the Test Pile Program, has failed to follow both the intent and letter of the law.  

Click here to watch video of all the public comments at the Seattle public hearing on the Second Explosives Handling Wharf. 

Click here to read previous posts on the Second Explosives Handling Wharf.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Navy Plans Rebuild of Trident Nuclear Weapons System

David C. Hall, MD

The Pentagon and US Navy are planning to rebuild the Trident submarine nuclear weapons fleet over the next fifteen years at a cost likely to exceed $1 trillion over the life of the program. Currently eight of the fourteen Trident warships allowed under the START treaty home port on Hood Canal at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington State. The other six home port at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia.

In what may well be an opening salvo announcing the rebuild of the Trident fleet, the Navy plans to build a new and expanded Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor next to the one currently servicing these warships. Price tag: $783 million. The Navy claims to need 400 operational days a year to load and unload missiles from the warships over the next 30-plus years, and they can only get 300 operational days from the current Explosives Handling Wharf. Public comment was solicited up through May 17, 2011 at www.nbkeis.com/EHW.

What goes unsaid is the impact of current treaty negotiations to reduce the number of warheads and launch vehicles. While Trident warships are patrolling the world's oceans at Cold War levels, the number of warheads on the Trident subs has probably been reduced by half according to what data is available in the public record. The Navy, however, wants to upgrade the missiles and warheads, so presumably will want more handling days available.

This at a time when across the country we are cutting back basic medical care for indigent children, more people are out of work than at any time since the Depression, and people continue to lose their homes.

And then there is the unimaginable devastation these weapons are designed to create. Hiroshima was leveled in 1945 by a 12 kiloton atomic bomb. Trident warships can carry W-76 warheads rated at 100 kilotons and W-88 warheads rated at 450 kilotons, up to 192 warheads on a single warship. A single Trident submarine warship has the capacity according to recent climatological calculations to black out the sun in an entire hemisphere for weeks to months, an event named “nuclear winter” by Carl Sagan and colleagues in the 1980's. What sane motives continue to compel us to rebuild this doomsday system? How can human freedom hope to survive once such a weapon is used?

A single Trident-launched warhead could create a fireball with the heat of the sun over an area that would incinerate the heart of any city, and then the blast, firestorms, and radiation would expand that zone in waves of destruction over five miles and several generations.

On whose country would we deliver such wholesale killing, suffering, and environmental devastation? China would seem to be the principal target of the Pacific Trident warship fleet. We remember World War II, the Nazi holocaust, Stalinist Russia, and Mao Tse Tung's China – political and military catastrophes in themselves for people with any will to freedom and human rights. Yet there will be no democracy under nuclear fire. And if the United States is held responsible for the crime against humanity that a modern nuclear weapon would perpetrate, then what of the international backlash against us?

Imagine if the earthquake and tsunami assault on Japan had instead been caused by one or two nuclear weapons. The destruction could have been comparable with many more deaths, but what then would be the world's reaction against the perpetrator of such a crime? And where does it end?

This is not the world I want to leave for my grandchildren or their grandchildren.

Our world is much too interdependent and vulnerable to have its multifarious problems and injustices solved by military force, much less by weapons of mass destruction. We need national, international, and non-governmental institutions to broker negotiations across the panoply of threats to life on Earth.

It is time to outlaw and abolish nuclear weapons, not rebuild them. What is hopeful about abolishing nuclear weapons is that it is doable within a relatively short time frame, and it would propel other efforts at cooperative security and cooperative development to the benefit of all.

Our safety resides in our capacities to get along with each other. What sense does it make to threaten China daily with incineration by a Trident-launched hydrogen bomb when China now manufactures half of our consumer goods and holds nearly a trillion dollars of our debt? How about instead of spending another $783 million for a redundant and outmoded facility to service (illegal) weapons of mass destruction we instead invest in securing fissile materials worldwide, pass a nuclear weapons convention to abolish them, and develop cultural and educational exchanges with China, Russia, Iran and even North Korea to empower mutual understanding. That was a huge part of what helped to end the Soviet era of domination in Eurasia and bring an end to the Cold War.

David C. Hall, MD
Past President, Physicians for Social Responsibility and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility (psr.org and wpsr.org)
Member, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (gzcenter.org)
Seattle, WA
206-235-8245 cell
206-957-4702 office voicemail

Editor's Note:  You can read all posts on the Second Explosives Handling Wharf by clicking here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The X-band: an icon we DON'T need!


Seattle has a new, albeit temporary, icon that quite rivals the Space Needle.  Can you guess?  What is 240 feet wide and 390 feet long, towers more than 280 feet from its keel to the top of the its huge white dome, displaces nearly 50,000 tons, and cost $900 million to build???

The sea based X-band radar about to eclipse the Space Needle on its way to Elliott Bay
Have you guessed??? It's the Sea-Based X-band Radar, just one of many components of the U.S. Defense Department's Ballistic Missile Defense System.  This $900 million extremely photogenic and technological marvel is said to be able, according to the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), "to track an object the size of a baseball over San Francisco in California from the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, approximately 2,900 miles (4,700 km) away."

As if that wouldn't be enough to impress people, the X-band is supposed to provide extremely accurate and precise data in order for other elements of the nation's missile defense system, such as ground-base interceptor missiles, to destroy enemy missiles fired by another country.  Sound complicated?  It is!

It is so complicated, in fact, that the folks responsible for this project have had their share of failures trying to get this system to function at 100 percent which, if it is ever going to defend the United States (or any of its allies) against nuclear-armed missiles, is the only acceptable level of reliability.  One nuclear missile hitting our shores is one too many, is it not?  Of course, if we really try to make the system even 99.9999%, our current economic mess will pale in comparison.  Star Wars is BIG BUCKS!!!

In one failed test (February 2010) the target missile successfully launched from the Marshall Islands, and the interceptor missile successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base.  However, the $900 million X-band "did not perform as expected," according to the MDA.  In other words, IT FAILED.  And this was a test in which everything was well choreographed.  What happens if a real nuclear-armed missile is headed toward the good old US of A and the X-band fails???  You don't want to know!!! 

One of the questions almost no one seems to ask is, will the X-band radar work against a bunch of missiles all coming at the same time (a realistic probability). At least one person has spoken out. "Philip Coyle, a former Pentagon weapons testing specialist who has been critical of missile defense testing, said... one problem with the [Sea Based X-band] radar is that its resolution is so fine it needs to be “cued,” or directed where to look."  Wait a minute!!!  This thing can spot a baseball 3000 miles away, but it won't be able to find it unless it's pointed in the right direction!?!?!? Oh, great!!!

The U.S. missile defense system has an unheavenly host of hardware including land and ship based missiles, "exoatmospheric kill vehicles" (now there's a mouthful), the Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser, space tracking and surveillance satellites, a Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) system, and land and sea-based radars.  Ever since President Ronald Reagan raised the Star Wars battle cry it has been a fast and furious (and extraordinarily costly) push to deploy a missile defense system.

The companies making a fortune off missile defense read like a who's who of the weapons industry, and include Boeing (prime contractor), Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Bechtel.  Boeing currently has the $27.1 million contract for "maintenance and upgrades" for the Sea-Based X-band.  Judging by its past performance, it sorely needs some work. Philip Coyle, now with the Center for Defense Information, said that "both the [Government Accountability Office] and my former office have questioned whether this radar can survive the maritime environment."

It is time to face the fact the Star Wars was one of Ronald Reagan's pipe dreams that allowed the Military-Industrial Complex to go full throttle in a sky's-the-limit push to develop a self-perpetuating system that Rube Goldberg would have loved.  Rather than feeding our paranoia about North Korea and Iran, and starting a new missile race with Russia, we should be working to reduce global tensions and eliminate the factors that cause other nations to build missiles and nuclear weapons.  That would logically begin with the U.S. ditching a futile missile defense program and putting even a fraction of that human and financial capital into positive diplomatic measures.

The Sea-Based X-band Radar is just another poster child for the hubris and waste that we euphemistically call "defense." If you live in Seattle take a trip down to Harbor Island where the X-band is currently at Vigor Shipyards (formerly Todd Shipyards).  See it for yourself, and then ask your Senators and Representative why we are wasting so much money on this program while cutting so many social programs???  The X-band is an icon we simply don't need and can't afford. 



For much more on this issue (and other related issues) check out the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space