A protester is arrested outside Bath Iron Works prior to the christening ceremony for a Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer named for former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Saturday in Bath. (AP Photo/David Sharp)

BATH — Bath police arrested 25 protesters who they say were blocking roadways outside Bath Iron Works Saturday morning during the christening ceremony for the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson.

The protesters were arrested around 9 a.m. They face charges of obstructing a public way, a Class E crime punishable by up to six months incarceration and a $1,000 fine. The protesters were primarily members of Maine Veterans for Peace, Code Pink and the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, according to police.

Members of more than a dozen peace groups had planned to protest the christening of the Navy’s third and final Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer at Bath Iron Works on Saturday.

Protesters issued a news release last week that said the Navy and BIW should focus their efforts on the national and global threats posed by climate change and not on building vessels that exacerbate climate change. They say the Pentagon has the largest carbon footprint on the planet. 

“Making warships at BIW is not even a good jobs policy. Researchers have consistently found that investment of the same resources in sustainable energy solutions like commuter trains or wind turbines would produce many more jobs,” Mary Beth Sullivan, spokeswoman for PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, said in a statement. 

Those arrested ranged in age from 52 to 88. Four live outside of Maine.

According to police, more than 75 protesters lined the sidewalks on both sides of Washington Street. The protesters went into the street around 9 a.m. and blocked traffic ahead of the christening that was scheduled for 10 a.m. Vehicles had to be turned around, and a bus shuttling guests to the christening was surrounded and couldn’t maneuver around the demonstrators.

Eight protesters behind the bus were ordered to get out of the roadway or face arrest, according to a press release issued by Bath police.

“They refused and were taken into custody,” Bath Deputy Police Chief Robert Savary said in the release. “Officers were able to help the bus back up and proceed down King Street and on its way.”

According to Savary, 17 protesters blocking King Street near Washington Street were arrested at approximately 9:30 a.m., after refusing officers’ orders to move.

Savary said some of the protesters laid on the pavement in defiance of officers’ warnings to get out of the road. Otherwise, “all cooperated with the arrest and subsequent booking process.”

Troopers from the Maine State Police assisted with the arrests and deputies from the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department helped transport those arrested to Bath Police Department.

This is not the first time Bath police have arrested protesters. Nine people who were arrested while protesting the christening of the USS Thomas Hudner at Bath Iron Works in 2017 were acquitted of charges 10 months later.

Those nine were charged with trespassing. Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings granted a motion for judgment of acquittal, citing improper application of the law by Bath police and a lack of ordinances in the city.

Three of those arrested in 2017  were also charged in 2016 at a similar protest during the christening of the future USS Michael Monsoor.

Those arrested Saturday have been bailed and are scheduled to appear in West Bath District Court on June 18.

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Protesters block a bus transporting guests headed to Bath Iron Works for a christening ceremony of a Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer named for former President Lyndon Baines Johnson Saturday in Bath (AP Photo/David Sharp)

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