Nuclear Ghost Fleet

Episode 2 from a Bikini Atoll Wreck Diving Trip. Browsing the wracks before the penetration and browsing the inglorious history of the bikini atoll and operation crossroads.

The Bikini Atoll became the final resting place for some of the most historically significant warships in naval history and the world’s greatest wreck diving site.

On July, the 16th of 1945, at 5:29 am the United States won the race for the first nuclear bomb against Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union.

We have to keep in mind that those four were not ordinary countries. Those were all empires desperately struggling to rule the world. I also doubt, that the result came out of the blue. It was simply the most expensive project in human history. The price of the four bombs that came out of the manhattan project was 20 billion dollars or 65% of all other bombs, mines and grenades used in the war. Germany had already surrendered two month ago and the last wish of Roosevelt to drop one of those bombs on Berlin or Mannheim could not be fulfilled any longer. It was also only a matter of days until Japan would also surrender.

Time for a good reason to nuke some real stuff and completely take over the unsinkable aircraft carrier Japan without sharing with the Soviet Union was running short for Truman and the military. History is written by victors and we will never know how close this head-to-head race really was.

However, the final story was that many lives were saved by not simply demonstrating the power, or by a choosing a military target but by wiping out two cities and killing more than 200.000 civilians. Five days after Nagasaki the second World War was over. But the United States of America were not able to withstand the temptation of power and to play with their new toys at the Bikini Atoll.

“As soon as the war ended, we located the one spot on earth that hadn’t been touched by the war and blew it to hell” (Bob Hope)

The Bikini Atoll is a remote and sparsely inhabited island in the Marshall Islands group. A lost now tainted paradise in the middle of the pacific ocean that is as far away from any other point as you can get on this planet. On February the 6th the survey ship USS Summer began to bomb its way into the lagon and the preparations for an historic event started at full scale.

The former inhabitants of the Bikini Atoll are still not back and they will most probably never be able to return or be allowed to return. Radioactivity is still to high to support self reliant living and the Bikini Atoll and its history is something the US does not really like to be to public.

I want to share with you the tragic history of the Bikini Atoll and the nuclear ghost fleet that we had the luck to explore in 2014. It is already starting to rust and fade away from the human memory and some things should not be forgotten.

History becomes legend.

Legend becomes myth.

At the end it passes. Out of all knowledge…

We should not forget the epic failures along Operation Crossroads and following nuclear test series…

18 tons of cinematography equipment and 50% of the world wide supply on motion picture film were used. They took fifty thousand stills and a half million of meters of motion pictures.

On July the 1st, at 9:00 am, Dave’s Dream, a B-29 super-fortress starting from Kwajalein dropped Gilda, a Nagasaki-type plutonium bomb with a yield of 23 kilotons over the target fleet but missed the target by nearly one kilometer. Remember the price for a bomb was 5 billion US dollars at that time.

The Target ship USS Nevada was painted red. The weather forecast was good to go. The whole world was invited to see the new power of the United States of America.

Three nuclear bomb tests were planned to demonstrate the new supreme power to the rest of the world. The target fleet included nearly one hundred ships of various sizes from aircraft carriers to surrendered enemy icons. 42,000 men were involved in operation crossroads.

There is little footage on the initial able test, as most cameras were aimed at a different location. Some of the 114 press observers expressed disappointment at the effect on ships.

On July the 25th Helen of Bikini showed her beauty. This time it was a stationary device 30 meters below the surface. It was a much more impressive display and also dumped impressive amounts of radiation on the ships, Bikini and the planet.

…March 1st 2023 marked the 69th anniversary of the Castle Bravo nuclear test. In this piece from last year, a former Peace Corps volunteer shares her experience seeing the impacts of US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands conducted between 1946 and 1958.

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