After 21 months in the Hawaiian Islands, the historic anti-nuclear sailboat Golden Rule has departed from Honolulu, Hawai’i for the West Coast of the U.S. The Golden Rule first sailed from California to Hawai’i 63 years ago, in 1958, on her way to interfere with U.S. atmospheric nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, the site of 67 U.S. nuclear bomb blasts from 1952 to 1958. Under orders from the Atomic Energy Commission, U.S. Coast Guard stopped the boat from leaving Honolulu. The arrest and jailing of Golden Rule’s captain Albert Bigelow, a retired World War II Navy Commander, and his crew of Quaker peace activists garnered international media attention and increased opposition to nuclear testing and nuclear weapons.
Atmospheric nuclear testing was stopped by the U.S., the UK and the Soviet Union in 1963 with the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty. Golden Rule crew member George Willoughby was among a delegation of Quaker peace activists that met with President Kennedy before he signed this historic treaty, banning nuclear bomb testing in the atmosphere, underwater, or in space (but allowing it to continue underground).
In July 2019, Veterans For Peace, who owns and manages the Golden Rule, sailed the 34-foot ketch from San Diego to Hawai’i, with the intention of proceeding on to the Marshall Islands, the original destination of the 1958 crew. But once again, the Golden Rule’s voyage to the Marshall Islands was stymied, this time by COVID-19. Because of the global pandemic, the Marshall Islands, already beset by outbreaks of measles and dengue fever, remains closed to international boats.