Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Back at the Navy gate

 

Yesterday at the Navy compound gate at Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard in Maine. Art work by Russell Wray (Hancock) held by Peter Morgan (right) and John Morris. Bill Rixon has the VFP banner. Photo by Lisa Savage.



We got a few double takes from sailors, shipyard workers and car drivers passing by on Wednesday. This amazing work of art by Russell Wray was the theme of one of our peace walks through Maine a couple of years ago. We then hung the banner on the side of a 15-passendar van, along with Russell's sculpture of a dolphin (Maka) on top of the vehicle. That two-week trek through our state got lots of looks as you could imagine.

I handed out about 10 flyers yesterday and would guess that since we began these twice-a-month vigils at BIW we've handed out more than 100 of them - about 70% to shipyard workers and 30% to navy personnel.

The navy compound in Bath is called Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA): The Force Behind the Fleet. 

Below NAVSEA at the worker-bee level in Bath is what they call 'Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair (SUPSHIPS)'. (I'd like to hear the navy definition of 'conversion'.)

SUPSHIPS is co-located with major shipbuilders and are the Navy's on-site technical, contractual and business authority. 

SUPSHIP Bath oversees the design and construction of five Navy ship classes at three private shipyards in Bath, Maine, Marinette, Wis., and San Diego, Calif. SUPSHIP Bath’s product line includes Arleigh Burke Destroyers (DDG 51), Zumwalt Destroyers (DDG 1000), Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) Ships, and John Lewis Fleet Replenishment Oilers (T-AO). Once these ships sail away from their respective building yard, SUPSHIP Bath oversees the post shakedown availabilities in their homeports.

 

For many years our vigils at BIW were at gates where the civilian shipyard workers come and go. It's good to reach out to them with our messages. But the navy personnel level right now in Bath is in the hundreds and many of them daily pass through the compound gate. Our vigils since May greet the sailors as they come in and out of NAVSEA.

Some of the shipyard workers who pass by during lunch are very kind, interested, and even a bit supportive. Others are afraid, angry and want to protect their job, or express what they might say are 'patriotic slogans' like one a shipyard worker yelled at me as he drove by yesterday, "Nuke 'em, all and let god sort 'em out!"

A few shipyard personnel say they are protecting our right to protest with the destroyers they build. But then when you try to use those 'freedoms' some of them would prefer you didn't.

The only other hassle I had yesterday was from a graying NAVSEA senior-executive type who told me I ought to move to the other side of the street. I was holding a sign that said 'Navy toxics kill oceans'. I reminded him that the side walk he and I were on is public.

Actually we got more honks, waves and smiles than the hard stuff. 

I actually love going there. Having grown up on military bases, joined the Air Force during the Vietnam war, and protested in Bath for about 17 years, I feel quite comfortable around all of the folks we come in contact with. 

They are not my enemy. The war system is.

We try to have a different message (along with the constant VFP flags) at each vigil. But because of the profound beauty of this banner we are going to take it back with us at our next vigil on September 8 at 11:00 am.

We'll keep coming back and back....its good for our souls.

Bruce

2 Comments:

Blogger Peter said...

Russell

It's an honor to stand with your mural !

8/26/21, 7:27 AM  
Blogger brown lethem said...

Russell,

What a great image! along with the dolphin sends a strong message.
Brown

8/26/21, 7:01 PM  

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