Nuclear weapons might just be the most destructive and deadly weapon mankind has ever made. Its destructive power is unmatched but the worst of its effects is the nuclear fallout. The radiation not only pollutes the land but also affects the generations to come. The pulse of heat after the flash of light is enough to melt your skin. The air blast also causes significant damage, tumbling vehicles, toppling weak buildings, and throwing debris.
World War II ended when the US dropped the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they had underestimated the effects of the weapons which left the US victorious. However, the Navy was left with a fleet of 6,768 warships, including 28 fleet carriers, 23 battleships, 232 submarines, and 2,547 amphibious ships. With the war ended, the ships had to be used in some way.
After witnessing the power of the atomic bombs, the Navy wondered what kind of effects it would have on a fleet of warships. I don’t know who came up with the crazy question but what’s even crazy are the tests the Navy did to satisfy its curiosity. So in June and July of 1945, the US government conducted a pair of the most infamous and unsettling nuclear weapons tests of all time.
The test was code-named Operation Crossroads. The test consisted of a fleet of 90 warships that assembled at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. The ships included the battleship Nevada, the aircraft carriers Saratoga and Independence, and a collection of cruisers, destroyers, submarines, and amphibious ships. All the ships were less than 5 years old.
The postwar Navy couldn’t care less about the access ships and anchored them all at anchor at Bikini. The Navy even sent captured Axis warships to the island, including the Japanese battleship Nagato and the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. Then on the night of June 30th, 1945, the Navy dropped an atomic bomb on the ships.
The unedited footage of the Able test has now been released so many years later. The Navy dropped a 23-kiloton atomic bomb on the assembled fleet. The airburst explosion was 1,500 to 2,000 feet off target and only managed to sink five warships. The results were apparently underwhelming for the Navy. You can watch the footage below.
The second test was the Baker test and it featured an underwater nuclear detonation. The explosion created a massive undersea pressure wave that radiated in all directions from the detonation point, tossing battleships like the USS Arkansas aside like little lego blocks.