What If a Tsunami Hits the Hood Canal Submarine Base?

by Mary Hanson

An article by Josh Farley in the 4-27-21 Kitsap Sun makes the case for closing the Bangor Trident Base as soon as possible.

In 2012 and following years, Ground Zero and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility (led by Glen Milner of Ground Zero) filed a lawsuit to attempt to stop the Navy from building a second explosives handling wharf at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor. There were many reasons why this wharf increased the risk of a “dirty bomb” accident, mainly because the second wharf was to be built too close to the first one, and an accident at one would cause an accident at the other. 

My concern, then as now, was that the chance of a Fukushima-level earthquake off-shore, the 9.0 “Big One”, is high, like 10% a year over the next 50 years. The science behind this estimate is from the United States Geological Survey, not me. Any reputable seismologist can affirm that this level of risk exists. The resultant tsunami would be extraordinarily destructive.

Because the base is on Hood Canal, Farley points out its vulnerability to a tsunami. The submarine base was conceived, built, and completed long before the science regarding the likelihood of the 9.0 was understood. I testified to this at a public hearing, so the Navy is fully aware of it. 

Some of my conclusions were logical — connecting the dots — not totally empirical. Farley’s article contains all the facts anyone would need to make the case that there should be no nuclear submarines, missiles or warheads stored, handled, moved in and out of, or deployed from Bangor.

The implications of this are huge. It is in no way an argument in favor of Ground Based Strategic Defense (GBSD) — those nuclear weapons are sitting duck targets. It is an argument for moving fast toward nuclear disarmament. Any submarine base in any country in the seismically active Pacific Rim could be equally at risk, and those risks would be even more likely to be covered up by even less democratic regimes than ours.