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  Military ScienceAtomic Warfare

Operation Crossroads

an atmospheric nuclear weapon test series conducted at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the summer of 1946 in order to study the effects of nuclear weapons on ships, equipment, and material

Test Set-Up

A fleet of more than 90 vessels was assembled in Bikini Lagoon. This fleet consisted of surplus U.S. cruisers, destroyers and submarines, three captured German and Japanese ships, and several auxiliary and amphibious vessels.

In addition to the target fleet, a support fleet of more than 150 ships provided crew quarters, experimental stations, and workshops for most of the 42,000 men involved in the tests.

the first atomic detonation at Bikini Atollthe second atomic detonation at Bikini AtollABLE Detonation

In the ABLE test, conducted on July 1st, the bomb was dropped from a B-29 and exploded 520 feet over the target fleet. Five ships were sunk as a result of this test. The radioactivity created by the explosion had only a transient effect, and within a day nearly all the surviving ships had been safely reboarded.

BAKER Detonation

In the BAKER test, conducted on July 25th, the bomb was suspended 90 feet beneath an auxiliary craft anchored in the midst of the target fleet. This explosion sank eight ships and damaged considerably more than the ABLE test had. The detonation caused most of the target fleet to be bathed in radioactive water spray and radioactive debris from the lagoon bottom, and most of the fleet remained too contaminated to be reboarded for several weeks.


Naval Historical Center www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq76-1.htm

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This page was last updated on 09/30/2015.

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