GROTON, Conn. -- The USS Ohio, the nation's first nuclear-missile firing Trident submarine, joined the U.S. fleet Wednesday to help 'preserve peace' and 'deter potential enemies of the free world.'
An estimated 250 anti-nuclear demonstrators staged a peaceful protest vigil at the main gate of the Electric Boat shipyard during the commissioning ceremonies for the $1.2 billion Ohio.
Three three miles away at the Navy Submarine Base in Groton, five anti-nuclear demonstrators, all from Connecticut, were arrested when they chained themselves together and tried to block two buses carrying dignitaries to the base after the Ohio commissioning.
A police spokesman said the five women protesters were arrested without incident and only momentarily delayed the buses.
Vice President George Bush presided over the Veterans Day ceremony, also attended by Navy Secretary John Lehman Jr., Adm. Hyman Rickover and Sen. John H. Glenn Jr., D-Ohio.
The two crews of the Ohio, including their commanders, Capts. Arlington F. Campbell and Alton Thompson, stood on the deck of the 560-foot submarine draped in red, white and blue bunting for the commissioning.
The Ohio, its first scheduled patrol from its homeport in Bangor, Wash., set for the fall of 1982, will be equipped with 24 nuclear missiles, each armed with up to 17 warheads that can be sent to different targets.
'If she is successful in her life's mission,' Bush said, 'she will never fire a shot.
'Her purpose is to deter potential enemies of the United States, potential enemies of the free world,' he said. 'Her mission... is to preserve peace.'
Rickover, often called the father of the nuclear navy, said, 'The Ohio and her sister ships are tangible evidence that the United States is prepared to defend its country.'
The demonstration against the Ohio was in sharp contrast to its launching in April 1979, when thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators jammed the streets of Groton and more than 200 were arrested.
'We just think the Trident is nothing to celebrate about, that's why we're here for this vigil,' said Marta Daniels, a spokeswoman for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that led a coalition of groups staging Wednesday's protest.
At least one EB worker expressed a vastly different feeling.
'I have a sense of fear,' said Arthur McFarland, 34, of Groton, watching the protesters from a coffee shop. 'What I'm saying is I have to make a living and those people out there don't want me to.'
Police said the demonstrators gathered at Fort Griswold State Park and marched several miles to the shipyard's main gate where they formed a single-file line behind a contingent of police officers.
The demonstrators carried signs that read, 'Feed the people, not the Pentagon' and '$2 billion Trident, ship of unmet human needs.'
The coalition is scheduled to demonstrate again Saturday when the USS Florida is christened in the shipyard.
In his speech, Bush said, 'The United States is against nuclear war or any war. It is a sign of the times that the United States would find itself in the position of defending itself against outrageous charges that it, not the Soviet Union, represents the major threat to peace in the world today.'
He said, 'I wish, along with all Americans, that the Soviet Union truly was not expansionist and aggressive. If they were not, then we would not be here today.'
In a reference to the recent grounding of a Soviet submarine carrying nuclear weapons in Swedish waters, Bush said, 'The Ohio will violate no sovereign waters, threaten no innocent peoples, carry out no aggression. She will, in the tradition of her breed, run silent, and deep -- an instrument not of war, but of our will to live free, and in peace.'
The Ohio, America's largest and most powerful submarine and lead ship of the Trident class, was delivered to the Navy on Oct. 28 following sea trials earlier in the year.
The submarine will undergo shakedown cruises before it is taken to Bangor and equipped with nuclear missiles.