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Peace groups expected to protest christening of warship at Bath Iron Works

By DENNIS HOEY | Portland (Maine) Press Herald | Published: April 25, 2019

PORTLAND, Maine (Tribune News Service) — Members of more than a dozen peace groups are planning to protest the christening of the Navy’s third and final Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer at Bath Iron Works on Saturday.

Named after former President Lyndon B. Johnson, the DDG 1002 is scheduled to be launched at 10 a.m. from the Washington Street shipyard, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Lynda Johnson Robb and Luci Johnson, the two daughters of the president who served from 1963-1969, will break bottles of sparkling wine across the ship’s bow. Johnson, the country’s 36th president, served as a U.S. Navy Reserve officer before being called to active duty after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Protesters issued a news release Wednesday that said the Navy and BIW should focus their efforts on the national and global threats posed by climate change and not on building vessels that exacerbate climate change. They say the Pentagon has the largest carbon footprint on the planet.

“Making warships at BIW is not even a good jobs policy. Researchers have consistently found that investment of the same resources in sustainable energy solutions like commuter trains or wind turbines would produce many more jobs,” Mary Beth Sullivan, spokeswoman for PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, said in a statement.

PeaceWorks says it has gathered the signatures of more than 50 people who have expressed their willingness to engage in acts of civil resistance on Saturday. The protest will likely take place outside the shipyard’s gates since christening ceremonies are private.

“Continuing to build expensive, provocative and polluting weapon systems like Zumwalt destroyers ignores climate change as the biggest threat to our collective safety,” Bruce Gagnon of Brunswick said in a statement. Gagnon is member of Veterans for Peace.

The Lyndon B. Johnson was launched from BIW in December. The futuristic, multi-mission Zumwalt-class destroyers are 610 feet long, displace almost 16,000 tons and can reach speeds of 30 knots. The Navy originally envisioned ordering 32 of the so-called stealth destroyers, but the order was repeatedly cut back and just three were built.

©2019 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)
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