How Are U.S. Warships Supporting Israel’s Genocide In Gaza?

Gaza has been under military blockade since 2006. Its one harbor, in Gaza City, was heavily bombed by Israel recently. Repeated attempts to reach Gaza with boats carrying humanitarian supplies have been thwarted by Israel with U.S. backing and we’ve seen activists beaten and even killed for trying to deliver cargo like medical supplies.

Bringing this question closer to home, How is the genocide in Gaza supported by General Dynamics and Bath Iron Works?

General Dynamics is the world’s fourth largest weapons manufacturer and Bath Iron Works (BIW) is one of its many locations for building weapon delivery systems. In this location in Maine shipbuilders historically profited from building slave ships.

Today, both destroyers and cruisers are built to be nuclear-capable meaning they are designed to be able to deliver first-strike attack nuclear Tomahawk cruise missiles and SM-3 ‘missile defense’ interceptors which would take out an enemy’s defenses following a first strike by the U.S.

Currently there are multiple Bath-built warships in the vicinity of Gaza including the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden. The USS Kearny, an Aegis destroyer built at BIW, is deployed there as is the USS Mason, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer which on 27 November engaged in a firefight with Yemeni forces on behalf of an Israeli merchant ship it was sent to rescue. U.S. ships have been reported as routinely shooting down drones launched from Yemen that target ships in the vicinity.

Map dated May, 2020 Source:

On 15 November Aljazeera published a video report, “What does the Western naval build-up in the Middle East look like?” with this comment: “The Middle East is witnessing a Western naval build-up that hasn’t been seen there for decades: aircraft carriers, destroyers, missile cruisers, amphibious assault ships, a nuclear-powered submarine, and many more.”

U.S. warships are deployed to deter resistance forces in the region — such as Hezbollah — from intervening to stop genocide in Gaza and the West Bank. So far they’ve been apparently unsuccessful, however, their presence increases the likelihood of escalation as in the case of the USS Mason fighting Yemen on behalf of Israel.

Since the resumption of Israel’s bombing of Gaza on December 1, these confrontations have indeed escalated.

Treating U.S. warships as inherently different from Israeli warships is mythology. The two nation states have never been in closer lock step as they do the bidding of their corporate overlords.

Israel has been described as “America’s unsinkable aircraft carrier” but the U.S. and Israel have never been so reviled in world opinion as they are today. Their collective reputation is sinking like a warship that’s taking on water.

Join us in Bath this Friday if you’re able. Help us communicate to workers that we know Bath Iron Works only has one customer — the U.S. Navy — but it wasn’t always like that. So many useful things could be built there and even more good union jobs generated, like hospital ships to provide relief for the bombed out children of Gaza.

Injured Palestinian kid receives medical treatment at Al-Nasr Children’s Hospital after an Israeli attack in Khan Yunis, Gaza on November 18, 2023. Abed Zagout/Anadolu via Getty Images

If you have the courage, watch or read: “A harrowing video shows decomposing babies in a Gaza hospital after they had to be abandoned amid Israeli attacks.”

Then, wherever you’re located, get out in the streets to demand an end to genocide in Gaza and to the military blockade that supports it.

Christening A Warship: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Gov. Janet Mills at the podium, Senators Susan Collins and Angus King seated at right.

Yesterday, General Dynamics in collusion with the U.S. Navy held a “christening” of their latest warship, a nuclear-capable Aegis Destroyer attended by elected officials.

After decades of determined protest and, at times, civil disobedience leading to arrests outside Bath Iron Works’ gates, the shipyard’s glorifications of war making are no longer open to the general public. (They’re also announced at the last minute in obscure channels, so how our group is able to get wind of their plans in time to organize a response is anybody’s guess.)

That 24 of us gathered on short notice was one of the things right about yesterday. (Protester Bruce Gagnon’s favorable report is here.)Some of what was wrong:

🕱 Christening is an obnoxious term for naming a ship that will be used to menace China. 

Jesus Christ taught turn the other cheek and love one another. Co-opting his name to do pr for your nuclear weapons system is obscene.

🕱 The destroyer is named after a Vietnam war “hero” (an oxymoron if there ever was one) who’s incidentally still living and attended the ceremony. Most people who could remember the moral stain of the U.S. proxy war on China using Vietnam are dead. So, imperial narrative managers figure it’s time to refurbish the reputation of a wildly unpopular war that killed millions, poisoned thousands with chemical weapons, and spread cluster bombs that are still killing people in neighboring Laos and Cambodia.

🕱 The cost to the U.S. taxpayer for this warship: around $2 billion.

🕱 The Pentagon just failed its fifth audit, so we’ll probably never know why the ship cost so much. The U.S. military also just got the biggest budget ever authorized by Congress, a whopping $832 billion, and an undercount at that as nuclear weapons are funded through the Department of Energy budget.

🕱 As a friend pointed out to the reporter for the Times Record yesterday,

Outside the shipyard celebration, Mary Beth Sullivan of Brunswick was one of about 20 people who gathered to protest, holding signs that decried military spending and aggression.”The money should be going to human needs in our own community,” Sullivan, a social worker, said. “We could be building solar panels or windmills. There’re so many other projects we could be building if only we had a different mindset.

There’s so much profit in war.”

🕱 The reporter chose to follow MB’s quote with a rebuttal from Senator Angus King who was in attendance to kiss the ring of General Dynamics:

“There are people who say we shouldn’t spend so much money on defense and we shouldn’t build these ships,” King told the crowd. “The problem is there is evil and aggression in the world. If there’s any doubt of that: Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The whole purpose of building this ship is notifying our adversaries … we have the capacity to punish them if they commit an act of aggression against the United States or its allies.

We are building these ships so they will never have to be used.”

🕱 King was there to demonstrate that no matter whether you have an I (he’s an independent), a D (Governor Janet Mills), or an R (Senator Susan Collins) after your name, the war machine owns you.

🕱 All military contracting is sold to local entities (who are then pressured to cough up tax rebates for the wealthy corporations they are lucky enough to attract) as a good jobs program. It is nothing of the kind, producing the lowest number of jobs generated per dollar invested in various economic sectors.

🕱 Ramping up a World War 3 with China is the Pentagon’s worst idea yet. If an Aegis is capable of carrying nukes, how is China supposed to know that a war ship menacing the South China Sea isn’t about to annihilate Beijing?

🕱 The environmental destruction to places like Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island in South Korea via construction to port U.S. war ships is tragic.

🕱 The climate harms of U.S. militarism are well-documented yet never included in the corporate news reporting that puffs gala events like the war ship celebration.

I’ll leave you with more of what went right:

 We did get a bit of coverage in local newspapers, both in advance and on the day of — which amplifies our messages considerably. (Kudos in particular to George and Maureen Ostensen for their publicity efforts.)

☮ A local talk radio show had me on prior to the event to talk about how and why we protest war ships.

☮ A lot of wisdom was shared in our closing circle (depicted above is Mair Honan, who moved many of us by speaking about war-induced grief).

☮ Many hundreds of celebration-goers, cops, security guards, and passers-by saw our messages. Some honked and waved, or thanked us for being there. 

☮ Our presence demonstrated that it’s possible to dissent from sailing full speed ahead toward nuclear world war.