Historic Anti-Nuke ‘Golden Rule’ Resumes Mission, Bound for Hiroshima, Nagasaki

The refurbished peace boat set sail on May 1, with its first leg taking it to Hawaii, reports Colonel Ann Wright.

‘Wave Maker’ Found Derelict in 2011 

By Ann Wright
Special to Consortium News

A refurbished peace boat that left the coast of California 61 years ago on a historic quest  to disrupt U.S. nuclear testing  in the Marshall Islands is back at sea. 

The Veterans for Peace boat, the Golden Rule, set sail from San Diego on May 1 on a 15-month voyage scheduled to raise awareness of the continuing, planetary dangers of nuclear weapons. The captain and crew aim to reach Hiroshima, Japan, in time for the Aug. 6, 2020, commemoration the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of that city and of Nagasaki.

1958 Golden Rule crew: William Huntington, Captain Albert Bigelow, Orion Sherwood and George Willough. (Swathmore Peace collection)

1958 Golden Rule crew: William Huntington, Captain Albert Bigelow, Orion Sherwood and George Willough. (Swathmore Peace collection)

The Golden Rule was found derelict in Humboldt Bay, California, in 2011, by a  shipyard owner, Leroy Zerlang. Two Veterans for Peace chapters in Northern California volunteered to restore it.  With Chuck Dewitt as project manager, many volunteers carried out the work over the next four years.

“We are sailing for a nuclear-free world and a peaceful, sustainable future,” says Gerry Condon, national president of Veterans for Peace. “Now it is time for us to visit the island nations of the Pacific, which have suffered so much damage from nuclear testing and military bases.”

In 1958, the boat’s crew attempted to intervene in U.S. atmospheric nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands by sailing from California to the testing site. There, U.S. nuclear testing from 1946 to 1958 blew up several islands and atolls and radiated many Marshallese who are still suffering from the effects of the nuclear explosions.  The combined explosive power of all the bombs dropped on the Marshall Islands during that 12-year period equals 1.6 Hiroshima-size explosions per day.

The U.S. Coast Guard stopped the 1958 crew twice in Honolulu, Hawaii, where they were arrested and jailed.

While the ship never made it to the Marshall Islands, the attempt drew international publicity to the dangers of atmospheric nuclear testing and helped mobilize citizens throughout the world to put pressure on their governments to stop the testing.  Atmospheric and underwater nuclear testing was finally stopped in 1963 with the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty by the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom.

Golden Rule leaving San Diego Harbor. May 1, 2019.

Golden Rule leaving San Diego Harbor on May 1. (Helen Jacquard) 

The current crew is now bound for their first stop in Hilo, Hawaii. This leg will take approximately three weeks, arriving during the week of May 21. The Golden Rule will stay in the waters around the Big Island of Hawaii for the month of June before heading for the island of Maui in July where she will remain until Aug. 7. 

2019-2020 voyage route. (Helen Jaccard)

2019-2020 route. (Helen Jaccard)

She will visit the small islands of Lanai and Molokai before sailing on to Oahu where she will remain for August, September and October. She will sail to Kauai for the month of November.  In each of the islands, crew members will be speaking in schools and to civic groups.

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Hawaiian elder Puna Kalama Dawson flew to San Diego to give an invitation and a blessing for the Golden Rule to come to Hawaii, home to many U.S. military bases.  She thanked Veterans for Peace, the captain and crew for their commitment to peace in the world and for using the vessel as an educational vehicle for discussions about folly of nuclear weapons.

In December 2019, the captain and crew of the Golden Rule will sail to the Marshall Islands.

U.S. Coast Guard stopping The Golden Rule off Honolulu, 1958. (Swathmore Peace collection)

U.S. Coast Guard stopping the Golden Rule off Honolulu, 1958. (Swathmore Peace collection)

After a month in the Marshall Islands the Golden Rule will sail to Guam where the U.S. military is increasing the size of U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine and U.S. Air Force facilities.  The next stops will be Saipan and Okinawa, sites of many U.S. military bases.

Follow the Golden Rule’s voyage on a map that updates every 10 minutes and with a daily blog. Email the Golden Rule Project to receive the blog link by email.

Honolulu protests against nuclear testing and the arrests of Golden Rule crew. (Quaker House, Honolulu collection)

Honolulu protests against nuclear testing and the arrests of Golden Rule crew. (Quaker House, Honolulu collection)

The Current Crew

Captaining the Golden Rule from California to Hawaii is Dan Lappala of Hilo, Hawaii. He has been a professional sailor for decades, has owned his own sailing company in Hawaii. This will be his fifth voyage from the West Coast of the U.S. to Hawaii.

First Mate Tom Rogers of Keyport, Washington, is a retired U.S. Navy Captain who was the commander of nuclear submarines.  After he retired from the U.S. Navy, he became a peace activist and is a volunteer with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, which is near the Trident nuclear submarine base in Bangor, Washington.

Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1954. (Swathmore Peace Collection)

Mushroom cloud from Castle Bravo test, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1954. (Swathmore Peace Collection)

The Trident submarine base at Bangor represents the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. and is the home port for eight of the Navy’s 14 Trident ballistic missile submarines. The Trident bases at Bangor and Kings Bay, Georgia, together represent just over half of all the nuclear warheads deployed by the United States. When asked why he wants to eliminate nuclear weapons, Rogers said,  “Our kids deserve to grow up in a world without nuclear weapons. It is a failure of our generation that they must live in fear of nuclear annihilation and bear the cost of a massive modernization of our nuclear weapons complex.”

Left-right: Captain Lappala; alternate crewmember Chris Mayer; Hawaii elder Puna Kalama Dawson; crewmember "Che" Burton; crewmember Jamie Skinner; First Mate Tom Rogers; Golden Rule operations manager Helen Jaccard. (Ann Wright)

Left-right: Captain Lappala; alternate crewmember Chris Mayer; Hawaii elder Puna Kalama Dawson; crewmember “CBe” Burton; crewmember Jamie Skinner; First Mate Tom Rogers; Golden Rule operations manager Helen Jaccard. (Ann Wright)

Crewmember Connie Burton, known as “C Be,” is a sailor from Anahole, Kauai, Hawaii. She was taught to sail by Captain Dan in 2002 and has been sailing in Hawaii and Mexico ever since, including the Baha Ha Ha race from San Diego to Cabo. She has crewed on the Hawaiian Chieftain historic sail boat.  She said she enjoys being a part of projects with an important purpose and “trying to inform people about the dangers of the nuclear weapons race is as important as it comes.”  In the 1980s she walked the length of Florida with a group challenging nuclear weapons.

Crewmember Jamie Skinner from La Center, Washington, was a pilot in the U.S. Navy and had a career as an airline pilot.  He is now retired and has extensive sailing experience in the Pacific northwest.  Jamie has been battling cancer, but it is in remission. “I feel it’s a privilege to be a part of the crew on this voyage and I hope to be an advocate for a greater awareness of nuclear disarmament and trying to work towards world peace.”

Alternate crewmember Chris Mayer from Berkeley, California, has helped with a multitude of tasks during the preparation of the boat for the voyage.

For the past two weeks, the Golden Rule operations manager Helen Jaccard has been familiarizing the captain and crew with the Golden Rule.  Jaccard has been sailing on the Golden Rule for the past three years on its voyages along the West Coast of the U.S.  She has been orienting the crew to the communications and navigational equipment, assuring proper rigging for a transpacific crossing, and ensuring that the crew is properly prepared with first aide training, man-overboard drills and providing the food and water needed for the three-week trip.

In its four years of sailing along the West Coast of the United States, the Golden Rule has visited communities in Humboldt Bay, Eureka, San Francisco, Monterrey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Long Beach, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Bremerton, and Bangor.  The Golden Rule has sailed twice to Ensenada, Mexico, to visit with deported U.S. veterans.

 “Making Waves: The Rebirth of the Golden Rule” is a 25-minute documentary about the Golden Rule’s history and current mission.  The 1958 mission of the Golden Rule is chronicled by the Golden Rule’s then captain, Albert Bigelow, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, in his book, “The Voyage of the Golden Rule: An Experiment with Truth.”

Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a colonel.   She was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She resigned from the U.S. government in March 2003 in opposition to President George W. Bush’s war on Iraq. She is co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”

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13 comments for “Historic Anti-Nuke ‘Golden Rule’ Resumes Mission, Bound for Hiroshima, Nagasaki

  1. Donna Ashizawa
    May 7, 2019 at 11:16

    Thank you so much, Ann, for this great in-depth article and everything that you do for the Peace movement! Thank you Veterans For Peace and especially to those who repaired the Golden Rule. Thank you to the dedicated crew and all the supporters of this effort. This is very exciting news and I look forward to following the voyage online.

  2. Robert Mayer
    May 4, 2019 at 23:55

    Tnx CN & Ann Wright… I was only 10 yrs in ’58 & my fam hardly a hotbed of l. action… So… Tnx4 educating me as2 Gov repression from that era…
    Btw not related2 dude w/ CoolName!

  3. Mark Rogow
    May 4, 2019 at 09:12


  4. May 4, 2019 at 04:40

    The world is closer to nuclear war now than during the Cold War. The period 1945-1991 was the peace: we have now entered an age of war. The world has experienced periods of peace (or relative peace) throughout history. The Thirty Years Peace between the two Peloponnesian Wars, Pax Romana, Europe in the 19th century after the Congress of Vienna, to name a few. The Congress System finally collapsed in 1914 with the start of World War One. That conflict was followed by the League of Nations. It did not stop World War Two. That was followed by the United Nations and other post-war institutions. But all the indications are they will not prevent a third world war. The Veterans for Peace Boat is all the more important for drawing attention to the dire global threat of nuclear holocaust.

  5. Lucy
    May 4, 2019 at 03:17

    You are BOYS!

  6. Sue Shoffiett
    May 3, 2019 at 21:02

    Thank tou, Golden Rule Crew! Thank you most especially, Veterans for Peace.

  7. Carl Rising-Moore
    May 3, 2019 at 20:01

    May the Winds of Peace fill your sails throughout your historic journey brave crew of the Golden Rule. The world is watching as the Doomsday Clock moves ever closer to midnight. The World is watching, especially the children.

  8. James Williamson
    May 3, 2019 at 18:52

    Crucial story. Thank you for sharing this vital information. One tip: NEVER include a link that does NOT open a new tab. To NOT blot out your own story by replacing it with another story from another publication is the first rule of smart website building, especially to replace it with a propaganda paper like the Washington Post which only occasionally prints a true story, especially regarding issues of war. In any case, again, thank you.

    • James Williamson
      May 3, 2019 at 18:59

      There should be an option with your website editor that allows you to do so.

  9. Sam F
    May 3, 2019 at 18:16

    This voyage is a fascinating expression of the sentiments of peace among nations.

    We very much need bold and poetic expressions of our personal journeys to benefit humanity, as stories to interest and educate the MSM-bound, as part of public moral education. These story-like journeys provide involvement and hope that practical personal efforts can effect change.

    Whereas stories of the persecution of heroic whistleblowers can have some opposite effects. While mass media ignore such stories, they bring alternative media alive to new readers.

    However, pleasant journeys have the virtues of journalism, not those of activism. The stories we really need are of special teams successfully attacking corruption at government facilities, MSM facilities, HQ of irresponsible corporations, prisons, courthouses, gated communities for the rich, etc. Unless the participants direct their risks to real world results, they will just encourage pseudo-activism.

    Encouraging the planting of flowers for peace and going home, is capitulation. Flower power did little in the Vietnam war era. Far more practical is the reworking of institutions that abuse such power, requiring the destruction of our dictatorship of gold, strictly regulating the market economy that destroyed our democracy.

    I’m not sure I agree that nuclear weapons are worse than the conventional wars they avert, but their number and power should be minimized and their possessors prevented from bullying others.

  10. JLS
    May 3, 2019 at 14:40

    This makes me even more proud to be a VFP member. And thanks for the excellent article, Ann.

  11. May 3, 2019 at 12:44

    Good Speed to our Golden Rule, bringing messages of Peace to Oceania and beyond!

  12. Matty G
    May 3, 2019 at 10:31

    It pleases me to know some of my donations to Veterans for Peace may go to this project. Fair winds, following seas, and peace on Earth.

Comments are closed.