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7 nuclear bombs are still waiting to be recovered

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Cold War belongs to the past, but the nuclear proliferation going on for decades left a difficulty legacy, tied to how easy is for more and more states, even those considered to be the closest to international terrorist groups, are able to obtain or create a nuclear weapon, at the risk of having one day a military or terrorist attack with use of atomic bombs. What’s worse is that during Cold War the US alone lost at least 7 nuclear bombs which no one ever found and which are still somewhere, out there, at the risk to fall into the wrong hands.

The atomic bomb lost near Goldsboro

The first atomic bomb was lost 14 February 1950, when a Convair B-36, en route from Alaska to Texas, on a mission that included a simulated nuclear attack on San Francisco and carrying a Mark 4 nuclear bomb crashed in northern British Columbia. Because of serious engines problems, the atomic bomb was jettisoned and the crew parachuted out while airplane was shutting down.

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Mark IV

Five of the 17 men died, while the nuclear weapon blew up on impact with the ocean, the bomb’s uranium components were lost on the bottom of the ocean and never recovered. United States Air Force stated that the plutonium core was not present for this simulation and we have to hope this is true.

The March 10, 1956 incidents

March 10, 1956 was a black day for the US Air Force: a B-52 which during a routine flight along the east coast went into a tailspin lost a pair of 4-megaton hydrogen bombs near the town of Goldsboro, North Carolina. The bombs didn’t blow up but according to some documents declassified years later, one of the bomb came very close to detonating while the other was only partially recovered: while the tail of the bomb was discovered about 20 feet below ground, the nuclear core was never found because of uncontrollable ground-water flooding which forced to abandon excavation.

In the same day, a B-47 Stratojet took off from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida for a non-stop flight to Ben Guerir Air Base, Morocco, but literally vanished. The unarmed aircraft was carrying two capsules of nuclear weapons material in carrying cases. Extensive search didn’t find any debris were found and even the crash site has never been exactly located, even if the US Air Force declared a likely incident over the Mediterranean Sea. It was not possible a detonation of the two nuclear cores, so they are probably intact even today somewhere on the bottom of Mediterranean Sea.

Atomic bombs on the bottom of ocean

Are not just airplanes to have lost atomic bombs during Cold War years: 5 December 1965 the Uss Ticonderoga (CV-14) aircraft carrier, departed 31 days before from U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay in the Philippines, saw an A-4E Skyhawk attack aircraft rolling off the deck and falling into the Pacific ocean. The aircraft, carrying a hydrogen bomb, sank in 16,000 feet of water, its nuclear weapon should still be there, as it has never officially been recovered so far.

Finally, 5 June 1968 the U.S.S. Scorpion (Ssn-589) submarine was declared “presumed lost”, after a last radio contact with a US Navy communications station in Nea Makri, Greece. According to declassified documents, 22 June 1968 the US Navy launched a large and secret search, at around 400 miles southwest of the Azores, in the Atlantic Ocean, finding at the end some sections of the hull of Scorpion in October.

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Mark 45 - Nuclear Torpedo

On board of U.S.S. Scorpion there were 99 crew members and two Mark 45 torpedo armed with nuclear weapon. Periodically US Navy visits the site to determine whether there is a nuclear pollution, but nothing has been discovered so far, less than the wreck of the submarine is resting on the bottom of the ocean in 9,800 feet (3,000 meters) of water, which is less than where Titanic rests (under 12,500 feet of water), from which there were recovered some artifacts. Like saying that, at least in this case, the risk that someone would want to recover the nuclear weapons is not so remote.

Tags: War