Sound clip: USS Truxtun anti-nuclear protest

Listen to a broadcast about the protest against the September 1980 visit to Wellington by the USS Truxtun.


The Truxtun steamed into Wellington Harbour with no problems whatsoever. At about 7, a helicopter dropped a pilot on board, and she began moving soon after that through the narrow harbour entrance. At that moment about three protest boats shot out from Breaker Bay, but the Truxtun was too fast for them, and she left them wallowing in her wake.

She’s now nearing her anchoring place off Kaiwharawhara; she seems to be just off the container wharf at the moment. The three or four protest boats are being flanked by police boats, which outnumber them by about three to one; they’re way behind the Truxtun now, and with the tide against them, and the weather, they’ve got no way of catching up.

On the harbour, this is Bronwyn Williams.

USS Truxtun flanked by protest boats

The USS Truxtun enters Wellington Harbour on 25 May 1982 surrounded by escort boats and a flotilla of protest vessels.

This was the third time the Truxtun had come to New Zealand; the previous visits were in 1976 and 1980.

Community contributions

13 comments have been posted about Sound clip: USS Truxtun anti-nuclear protest

What do you know?

Guess who

Posted: 21 Nov 2020

I was a crew member on the the Truxtun in May 1982 you guys know me I swam ashore in the dead of night..

Gregory Faith

Posted: 10 Feb 2020

I was on the U.S.S. Truxtun the two times we visited Wellington and I must say the people there who had no issues with the nuclear powered warship were very hospitable and understanding. The port visit from my point of view was a life changing experience.

On my second visit in 1982, unfortunately, I was spat upon by one of the protesters while I was leaving the dock to pick up the ship's captain rental car. The police officer who witnessed the incident took the offender under arrest and asked me if I wished to press charges. I declined to answer his question and he took the person to the cities jail anyway. My remaining time there was uneventful.

Neil Anderson

Posted: 08 Aug 2019

I was one of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders active in support of a nuclear free zone, based in Wellington. I am immensely proud of the achievements of the movement. And this hasn't damaged any of my friendships with good American friends. Some of the commentators on the thread seem confused about our motivations. We had, and we have, every right, as a sovereign nation to determine our own policy on nuclear energy, nuclear waste, and nuclear weapons.
And that is also why I am confident of providing my full name here.


Posted: 18 May 2014

I was ship's chaplain on Truxtun during the '82 visit. I met many very nice people, including one young lady who came to stay in Virginia, USA, with my wife and me a couple years later. We still keep in touch. Best memory: talking with a protestor who had no idea there was a Soviet intelligence-gathering ship in port at the same time. They only knew what their leaders wanted them to know.


Posted: 12 Jan 2014

I was a crew member in 1982. I recall waiting to cross the street to catch the liberty boat back to the ship and seeing the protesters doing their thing. An older gentleman came up to me and said, "Don't pay too much attention to them mate. If it wasn't for your fathers and grandfathers we would be speaking Japanese today." The Kiwis were teriffic to us. Love them.


Posted: 17 Feb 2013

I recall the visits of USS Truxtun into Wellington and the nucleur threat that over the world during the years of the cold war. USA was behind Russia with the delivery of nuclear devices at the time of the Kennedy/Kruchev Cuba confrontation and so had every reason to be scared. For the period of the cold war we in New Zealand were coerced by Governments to hate the Soviets, Chinese, Nth Korea, Nth Vietnem and everything communist while on the other hand, the protest movement were coercing everyone to hate the USA, etc. etc. To my mind, one lot is just as bad as the other. They all lie or twist the truth - look at Chris's last sentance "wanted to nuke the world" pah!

In later years I had reason to visit a few ex-Soviet States and, talking to people, I found them just like us. Can I say it again - JUST LIKE US - wanting to raise their children and get on with their family lives. They had their houses and lovely possessions and didn't hate us as imperialists and all that nonsense.

Our nucleur policy and Nucleur Free Cities is nothing more than the manipulation of people for political purposes and Chris's mob are very much part of it. A protesters career path is "politician".


Posted: 14 Feb 2013

As a protest participant I had many conversations with Truxtun sailors on the dock. They told us it was easy to know when the Truxton was carrying nukes by how big the Marine guard was during loading. Most said they were in the Navy because it was the only job they could get, they hated it and couldn't wait to get out. We even took some for a tour of the city - it wasn't their fault their government wanted to nuke the world.


Posted: 27 Dec 2012

All can say what they want, I am a born and breed kiwi gal, I married a TRUXTUN naval man, I could tell you many things, but one thing I can state for certain is the integrity of the USN Truxtun crew, amazing military men, of course they will neither confirm or deny !!! our own son has had 7 war deployments quit bitching about the little things and recognize true military honor, I love NZ but I also honor my husbands service R.I.P. Don.

dan renusch

Posted: 15 Jun 2012

Rm2 Daniel Renusch, was on board, wanted to blast them bitches, lucky I wasn't the Captain, Pearson was cool though.

Lee M Withey

Posted: 16 Apr 2012

I was onboard for the third and final visit. When we departed, Wellington was declared a nuclear free zone. Upon arrival there were lots of protesting vessels and people. Two Friends and I were photographed and made the Wellington Newspaper. They gave me an original photo also. I bought a record that was produced prior to our arrival titled Mutants of Nuclear Fallout. The cover had a photo of the ship and the music was scary and fit the title perfect. I love Wellington and had a great time. Smooth Sailing, Engineman Lee M Withey