Washington State’s Anti-Nuke Billboards!

August 24th, 2023 - by The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Billboards Inform Kitsap County Citizens of
Nuclear Weapons Stockpiled in their Backyard 
Leonard Eiger / The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

(August 21, 2023) — On August 21, and continuing for four weeks, a billboard will display the following paid advertisement: Did You Know, We’re only 15 Miles from the Largest Concentration of Deployed Nukes in the USA!  Let’s Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Included in the advertisement is a map showing the proximity of Gorst, Washington to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, homeport for 8 of the Navy’s 14 Trident nuclear-powered submarines.  The billboard is near the intersection of highways SR 16 and SR 3.

The billboard serves as a public service announcement—informing the reader that at that exact location, they are 15 miles from the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the US.

Pat Moriarity, the artist commissioned by Ground Zero to produce the billboard stated,  “I’ve lived just a few miles from the location of this billboard for 23 years and even I didn’t realize how many nuclear weapons were so close to my home. I’d like to think if my neighbors knew, they would be concerned about getting rid of them. As a species we need to evolve past this mutual assured destruction mentality. It’s like the scariest staring contest you can imagine.”

The cartoon style billboard by Pat Moriarity is planned to be the first of a series of billboards across Washington State that will inform viewers of the distance at each billboard location to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.

Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor is homeport to the largest concentration of deployed nuclear warheads in the US.  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.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action has also joined with Pax Christi USA to purchase four billboards for the same time period with a message from Pope Francis, declaring that nuclear weapons are illegal and immoral.  The sign, designed by Pax Christi USA, also demands that nuclear weapons be eliminated in the Puget Sound region.

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 warheads are either the W76-1 90-kiloton warheads, W88 455-kiloton warheads, or W-76-2 8-kiloton warheads.

The Navy in early 2020 started deploying the new W76-2 low-yield warhead (approximately eight kilotons) on select ballistic submarine missiles at Bangor (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 US strategic nuclear weapons.

Comic Book artist Pat Moriarity, who created the cartoon style billboard near his home in Port Orchard, is an award-winning internationally known artist.

Hans M. Kristensen is the expert source for the statement, “Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor… with largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the US”  (See cited source material here and here.)  Mr. Kristensen is director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists where he provides the public with analysis and background information about the status of nuclear forces and the role of nuclear weapons.

The billboards are an effort by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, a grass roots organization in Poulsbo, Washington, to reawaken public awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons in the Puget Sound region.

Anti nuclear ads also appear on local buses.

The Billboard Ads
The five billboard ads measure 10 ft. 6 in. tall by 22 ft. 9 in. in length and will be displayed from August 21 through September 17.  The billboard, and first of a series of billboards by Pat Moriarity, is located at:

* intersection of highways SR 16 and SR 3 (on SR 16 and south of SR 3), Gorst, WA

The four billboards with Pax Christi USA and the statement by Pope Francis are near the following locations:
* Lake City Way NE and south of NE 143rd St., Seattle WA
* Aurora Ave N. and south of N. 90th St., Seattle, WA
* Rainier Ave S. and south of S. Brandon St., Seattle, WA
* Pacific Ave and north of S. 84th St., Tacoma, WA

The photo of the submarine with the statement by Pope Francis is from a US Navy DVIDS website, at https://www.dvidshub.net/image/1926528/uss-henry-m-jackson-returns-patrol.

The caption for the photo states:
BANGOR, Wash. (May 5, 2015) USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730) sails home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor following a routine strategic deterrent patrol. Jackson is one of eight ballistic missile submarines stationed at the base providing the survivable leg of the strategic deterrence triad for the United States. (US Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Brian Badura/Released)

Our proximity to the largest number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons puts us near a dangerous local and international threat.  When citizens become aware of their role in the prospect of nuclear war, or the risk of a nuclear accident, the issue is no longer an abstraction.  Our proximity to Bangor demands a deeper response.

Nuclear Weapons and Resistance
In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands demonstrated against nuclear weapons at the Bangor base and hundreds were arrested.  Seattle Archbishop Hunthausen had proclaimed the Bangor submarine base the “Auschwitz of Puget Sound” and in 1982 began to withhold half of his federal taxes in protest of “our nation’s continuing involvement in the race for nuclear arms supremacy.”

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.”

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.  The 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.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (gzcenter.org)
San Juan Island, Washington
Traditional Territory of the Coast Salish People