Photo by Glen Milner.
By Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, May 16, 2023
Silverdale, Washington: Activists blockaded the entrance to the US Navy’s west-coast nuclear submarine base, which is home to the largest operational concentration of deployed nuclear weapons, in a nonviolent direct action the day before Mother’s Day.
Eight peace activists from the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, holding banners reading “The Earth is Our Mother Treat Her With Respect” and “Nuclear Weapons are Immoral to Use, Immoral to Have, Immoral to Make,” briefly blocked all incoming traffic at the Main Gate at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington as part of a May 13th Mothers Day observance.
The civil disobedience was part of Ground Zero’s annual observance of Mothers Day, first suggested in the United States in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe as a day dedicated to peace. Howe saw the effects on both sides of the Civil War and realized destruction from warfare goes beyond the killing of soldiers in battle.
As a part of this year’s Mothers Day observation 45 people gathered to plant rows of sunflowers at the Ground Zero Center directly across the fence from the Trident Submarine Base, and were addressed by Pastor Judith M’maitsi Nandikove of Nairobi, Kenya who spoke of the nurturing work her organization does in reducing suffering and promoting sustainable livelihoods through the Africa Quaker Religious Collaborative and Friends Peace Teams.
Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor is homeport to the largest concentration of deployed nuclear warheads in the U.S. The nuclear warheads are deployed on Trident D-5 missiles on SSBN submarines and are stored in an underground nuclear weapons storage facility on the base.
There are eight Trident SSBN submarines deployed at Bangor. Six Trident SSBN submarines are deployed on the East Coast at Kings Bay, Georgia.
One Trident submarine carries the destructive force of over 1,200 Hiroshima bombs (the Hiroshima bomb was 15 kilotons).
Each Trident submarine was originally equipped for 24 Trident missiles. In 2015-2017 four missile tubes were deactivated on each submarine as a result of the New START Treaty. Currently, each Trident submarine deploys with 20 D-5 missiles and about 90 nuclear warheads (an average of 4-5 warheads per missile). The primary warheads are either the W76-1 90-kiloton or W88 455-kiloton warheads.
The Navy started deploying the new W76-2 low-yield warhead (approximately eight kilotons) on select ballistic submarine missiles at Bangor in early 2020 (following initial deployment in the Atlantic in December 2019). The warhead was deployed to deter Russian first use of tactical nuclear weapons, dangerously creating a lower threshold for the use of U.S. strategic nuclear weapons.
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. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.