Operation Crossroads started on 1st July 1946 and officially ended on 25th July 1946. This Operation was part of the Manhattan Project and was conducted the first detonations of nuclear weapons since the 1945 Nagasaki bombings by the United States of America.
As the America and its other Allied nations were engaged in the Nuclear arms race and Space race with the Soviet Union as part of the Cold War in the years of 1947 to 1991. Both superpowers were racing to build more technologically advanced and powerful Space systems and atomic weapons.
In the Air, A nuclear device named “Able” was dropped from a United States Air Force aircraft and it detonated 520 feet above the sea. The purpose of aerial detonation of Able nuclear bomb was to destroy a mock target fleet in the waters and study its effect on surrounding locations. The atomic blast of “Able” was done on 1st July 1946 and it was a 23 kt TJ nuclear device.
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Under the water, A nuclear device named Baker was submerged through a barge and was detonated under the water. After its detonation a giant Wilson cloud was formed and it accomplished the objective by contaminating all of the targeted ships.
Also for an Underwater nuclear test, A nuclear device named Charlie was planned to be tested as part of the Operation crossroads. Charlie Nuclear device was set to be tested on 1st March 1947 and later the test of Charlie was cancelled. The reason for cancellation of Charlie Nuclear test was that the United States Navy was unable to decontaminate the ships that were contaminated and radioactive after the successful testing of Baker Nuclear device.
These Ships are still present under the blue waters of the Bikini Atoll and its Lagoon. There are 95 ships and vessels that include-
• USS Saratoga
• USS Arkansas
• USS Gilliam
• USS Carlisle
• USS Lamson
• USS Anderson
• USS Nevada
• USS Apogon
• USS Pilotfish
• IJN Nagato
• IJN Sakawa
• Prinz Eugen (This ship is currently stuck on upper surface of Kwajalein Atoll’s lagoon)
These shipwrecks of Bikini Atoll are submerged in range of a nice 69 Feet below the waters to more than 200 Feet. Some of the Divers can get special permissions and dive to explore the ship graveyard of Bikini Atoll.
Manhattan Project Operation Crossroads Atomic Tests: The nuclear test devices were 23 Kiloton each –
Detonated on Coordinates 11.57°N 165.51°E in the Pacific Proving Grounds.
• Able was an Air Drop Test and was conducted at Bikini Atoll successfully on 30th June 1946 at 9 PM UTC
• Baker was an Underwater Test and was conducted at Bikini Atoll Successfully on 24th July 1946 at 9:30 PM UTC
• Charlie was also an Underwater test which was scheduled to be detonated on Bikini Atoll on 1st March 1947 but it was cancelled.
On November 1946, photos of Vice Admiral William Blandy and his wife emerged in which they were cutting a special cake which was designed and made like a nuclear Mushroom Cloud and had “Operation Crossroads” written on it with cream.
They were cutting this so called Operation Crossroads Cake for celebrating the success and accomplishment of Operation Crossroads nuclear weapons tests at the Bikini Atoll.