Navy’s Trident nuclear warheads travel western roads

Hundreds of nuclear warheads are secretly being trucked between northwest Washington state’s Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and the Texas panhandle to have their lives extended.

The 100-kiloton W76 warheads are between 23 and 32 years old and need to be upgraded, according to the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

Bangor’s eight Trident ballistic-missile submarines can each carry 24 D5 missiles. Those missiles can each carry up to eight W76 warheads.

Workers at the Pantex Plant outside of Amarillo, Texas, will add about 30 years to the weapons’ lives. The plant — charged with maintaining the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile — will refurbish the nuclear explosive package, the arming, firing and fusing system, and the gas transfer system, according to the NNSA.

Between 55 percent and 60 percent of the nation’s W76 warheads, or about 1,600 to 1,800 of them, will be modernized, said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project for the Federation of American Scientists. The federation, based in Washington, D.C., is an independent think tank focused on security issues.

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