In 1985, New Zealand stood up to the world's super-powers and said no to nuclear ship visits.
However, the freeze on all US ship visits is thawing, after an invitation to New Zealand Navy's 75th birthday celebrations in Auckland next year.
If the US accepts the invitation, it will send a surface vessel that will not be nuclear propelled or armed.
"In the days when this dispute arose with the United States we neither confirmed nor denied policy that was an article of faith with the United States," former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer said.
"They don't need that now. The strategic situation has changed."
One big change in US-Kiwi relations was former Prime Minister Helen Clark's decision to send troops to join the war on terror in Afghanistan.
A visit by US ships has twice been raised in meetings between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully this year.
"I don't believe New Zealanders will accept that the Prime Minister and the National Party can just decide on our behalf that they will dump a long held policy and belief that really underscores New Zealanders," Labour Party deputy leader Annette King said.
After signing a defence agreement in 2010, the Government was waiting for a request from the US.
ONE News understands the Defence Force has been in discussions with Auckland Council about a visit to Devonport Naval Base next November.