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Trident submarine: deadliest weapon in the arsenal.

In 1979 the first Trident Ohio class submarine was launched in Groton, Connecticut. That is the home of Electric Boat, the division of General Dynamics Corporation where 24,000 workers built eighteen Tridents at a cost of $1.9 billion each (without warheads). The price to be paid by the workers was exposure to radiated water, harsh working conditions, and job uncertainty when the U.S. Navy stopped ordering Tridents. Antiwar activists started protesting at Electric Boat in the 1960s because Poseidon submarines were built there.


In 1979, thousands of protesters stood outside the gates and continued their watch each time a new Trident, each one named for a different state, was launched. And every Tuesday morning, for two-and-one-half years, a group of people showed up at the gates at 6:00 a.m. to greet workers when shifts changed and hand out leaflets. Kings Bay, Georgia, and Bremerton, Washington, also became Trident bases. At each location, strong peace communities held weekly vigils and large demonstrations to educate the public and protest any future use of this weapon of mass destruction.

The eighteen submarines each carry 24 missiles, either the Trident I/C-4 or Trident II/D-5. Each missile carries an average of five nuclear warheads that can be launched in less than one minute and travel 7,000 miles. These missiles compose 50 percent of all U.S. strategic warheads.

As a result of the Pentagon's 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, the U.S. strategic nuclear force structure will be adjusted to fourteen Trident submarines, all carrying D-5 missiles. The Pentagon's accelerated two-year plan calls for using two of the missiles as conventional weapons on each Trident. Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb. (Philip Sherwell in Washington, D.C., for the Telegraph Group Limited, 12/2/06)

It thus becomes clear why so many thousands of people have protested, been arrested, and some--Plowshares activists in particular--served lengthy jail sentences in an effort to stop this "machine of death," as it is called. The danger that Trident will be used is still very real, whether it be against North Korea, Iran, or any nation deemed an enemy in the "war on terror."

Marge Van Cleef is former Program Chair of WILPF U.S. Section, an activist opposing war in Iraq, and a part-time adjunct professor at Cabrini College, St. David, Pennsylvania.
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Author:Van Cleef, Marge
Publication:Peace and Freedom
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2007
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