Lost Nuclear Bombs and Warheads

The middle of the 20th century was a very scary time. Most of my dad’s relatives were rounded up by Nazis and carried away to concentration camps where they perished. Millions of young men who should have been safe at home enjoying wet dreams were forced to join armies engaged in massive wars with high casualty rates. WWII was followed by the Cold War, a decades-long nightmare of anxiety caused by the doctrine of mutually assured destruction. People hoped the possibility of nuclear suicide would prevent egomaniacal leaders from starting WWIII. Nuclear weapons have great destructive power, and one would think the U.S. military has strict control over them. So it is shocking to realize the U.S. military has lost at least 12 nuclear bombs and probably 13. Here is the list:

1950–A B-36 bomber flying over the Pacific Ocean experienced engine trouble. The pilots jettisoned the nuclear bomb and bailed out over British Columbia. The conventional explosive detonated, and the Plutonium core sank.

1956–A B-97 carrying 2 nuclear bombs disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea never to be seen again.

1957–Crew members of a C-124 jettisoned 2 nuclear bombs into the Atlantic Ocean. They were never found.

1958–During war games a B-52 bomber collided with an interceptor. The nuclear bomb fell into Wassaw Sound off the coast of Georgia. The military claims the bomb was not armed, but they extensively searched for it to no avail.

1959–A U.S. Navy P5M crashed into Puget Sound and lost a nuclear depth charge.

1961–A B-52 carrying 2 nuclear bombs crashed into a North Carolina swamp. 1 bomb was found hanging from a tree by a parachute. The other bomb sank into the mud and was never found. That bomb was in the armed position but luckily did not detonate. The U.S. government bought the land around the lost bomb and does not allow trespassers.

1965-An A-4E Skyhawk with a nuclear bomb fell off an aircraft carrier into the Pacific Ocean and sank into 16,000 feet of water.

1968–A submarine carrying 2 nuclear warheads sank off the Azores Island killing all 99 crew members.

1968–A B-52 carrying 4 nuclear bombs collided with an air oil tanker over Greenland. 3 of the bombs broke apart, but the 4th stayed intact and sank into a glacier.

The old U.S.S.R. military was even more incompetent than the U.S. military. They probably lost more nuclear bombs than we will ever know about. However, 1 incident that we do know about occurred during 1986 when a submarine sank off the coast of Bermuda losing between 24-36 nuclear warheads. (Soviet missiles each carried 2 or 3 nuclear warheads.) With this 1 incident, the old Soviet Union far surpassed the number of nuclear weapons lost by the United States.

The U.S. military has lost at least 12 nuclear bombs.
Nuclear bombs can incinerate whole cities, and the nuclear fallout can cause radiation sickness for people living nearby, depending upon which way the wind blows following the blast.

Nuclear weapons are terrifying. They can incinerate whole cities, and the nuclear fallout can cause radiation sickness for many miles outside the blast zone. Radiation sickness can cause bleeding beneath the skin, brain seizures, cancer, and weakened immune systems. If all humans suffered from radiation sickness, our species would become extinct. In my favorite Planet of the Apes movie, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, from 1970, humans exposed to radiation following nuclear wars mutated to become telepathic cult worshippers of nuclear missiles. This is less likely than total extinction. Happy Halloween everyone.

This is a scene from Beneath the Planet of the Apes–my favorite in the series. Telepaths mutated by radiation worship a nuclear missile.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: