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Operation Crossroads

Updated on March 23, 2016

Operation Crossroads

The first nuclear test of an atomic bomb was conducted by the United States, in New Mexico, code named "trinity" on July 16, 1945, with a 20 kiloton yield. The second and third use of an atomic bomb was on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, during World War II.

In the years between 1946 and 1958, the United States conducted a total of 23 nuclear tests in the Bikini Atoll area in the Pacific. The first of these nuclear tests was called "Operation Crossroads". During operation crossroads a total of two detonations were conducted codenamed "able and baker". Both able and baker, each yielded twenty-three kilotons. The bombs dropped on Japan during World War II were called "Little Boy and Fat Man" and they were thirteen to eighteen and twenty-one kilotons, respectively.

Operation crossroads was carried out in a lagoon of the Bikini Atoll as a test on the effects to Naval ships and equipment. Two tests were done, the first being test "able", where a B-29 Superfortress named Daves Dream, dropped a fission bomb which detonated at 520 ft above the lagoon at the Bikini Atoll. The second test was done by detonation of another fission bomb suspended from underneath a Navy ship. Over 95 ships were placed for the tests in a large natural lagoon surrounded by the Bikini Atoll Islands, along with other military equipment. There were also some live animals tested during Operation Crossroads.

The Bikini Atolls

The Bikini Atolls are a small group of Islands in the expanse of the South Pacific, basically, located between Hawaii and Australia. There were 164-167 indigenous islanders and their Island King, "Juda" that were relocated to another groups of islands. Bikini Atolls is a group of about 23 small islands that form a large circle with a central lagoon, in the Pacific.

The Japanese had taken over the group of islands in 1914, but was left mostly to the local people. Shortly after World War II, the United States controlled the islands and it was to be used for a Naval Ship graveyard.

The Tests

On July 1, 1946 test "able" was conducted by dropping an atomic bomb from a B-29 and detonated at 520 ft above the lagoon, with a yield of 23 kilotons. Two destroyers, the Anderson and Lamson, two transport ships, Carlisle and Gilliam and a Japanese Cruiser Sakawa were sunk after the blast. The bomb dropped on test "able" missed its intended target by 710 yards. Several other ships and equipment were heavily damaged, but the bomb caused less damage than expected due to it being dropped on a less crowded part of the lagoon.

On July 25, 1946 test "baker" was conducted by detonating an atomic bomb suspended 90 feet in the water, attached to the bottom of the USS LSM-60, which was an amphibious assault ship redesigned for the test. No parts of this ship were ever found. In the test, ten ships, notably the battleship Arkansas and the carrier Saratoga and many others were severely damaged and/ or sank later.

Unlike test able, where the bomb was detonated in the air where the heat of the blast vaporized and "burned up" a lot of the available material, test baker was underwater and produced a massive amount of left over radioactive material. Some considered it the first "nuclear accident" because of this. A huge amount of water from the blast was propelled into the air, only to fall back onto the ships that didn't sink and also back into the lagoon. Attempts to clean the ships, left over from the blast failed and only subjected Navy crews to radiation. A third test codenamed "charlie" was canceled.

Years later, some of the original islanders returned to the islands in the mid 1970s only having to leave a couple of years later due to radiation. Today, some people have been diving some of the sunken Navy ships still in the lagoon.

USS LSM 60 Baker
USS LSM 60 Baker
USS Independence light aircraft carrier (after)
USS Independence light aircraft carrier (after)
USS Independence light aircraft carrier in service (before)
USS Independence light aircraft carrier in service (before)


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    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from USA

      Thanks for all the comments.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      3 years ago from San Diego California

      This was an environmental disaster, but the Bikini Atoll bombs were mere firecrackers compared to the megaton nukes we exploded above ground later with absolutely no idea of what the results would be. Great hub!

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      4 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Great Hub and as I watch this I am reading a book , one of many on the Atomic Bomb. A very sick time in history, you think everyone would learn from this.

    • LL Fugate profile image

      LL Fugate 

      5 years ago from Central Virginia

      Interesting hub, and truly amazing images.

    • profile image

      mark c stevens 

      7 years ago

      My father was involved in the Bikini Atoll incident as a US Air Force radio man. Shortly after the bombs went off in 1946, his plane was forced down because of engine failure and he landed on the island. He was exposed to a lot of radiation when trying to survive on Bikini Atoll. How can I get with others who had a similar experience? Pops died of a brain tumor, he was forced to eat "hot" fruit on the island because he was stuck there 10 days. Let me know of anyone with similar circumstances. Send any info to Thanks, Mark.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      My Grandfather was part of Operation Crossroads with the Army Air Forces. Sad to say, he passed many, many years before I was born. I don't know much about him or his service. The only thing left to me is the Army Air Forces Operation Crossroads book which is a pictorial record of Task Unit 1.5. If you know of any Army Air Forces personel that are still alive, please let me know. Thank you for your post and your fathers service.

    • melpor profile image

      Melvin Porter 

      8 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      This is a very interesting and informative hub. I didn't realize so many tests were performed on the Bikini Atolls. I was aware of only one. Thanks for the information.

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from USA

      Thanks Chris it is all an important part of history. I did leave out mentioning that possibly Navy Servicemen may have been exposed to radiation throughout the test and how much radiation they were possibly exposed to. I have seen photographs of Navy personnel actually trying to scrub the radiation or radioactive material off the test ships with scrub brushes. You comments and personal experience with the tests will be a great addition to the hub here and are thankfully and gratefully appreciated.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      No problem of I can think of anything I will post it my father is still alive so I can always ask him.

      Although I was wondering if there's a possibility I should be worried about health problems as a decendent of a guy that was nuked.....not to metion I'm only 21 my father was like 61 when I was born which from what I understand is also bad... Sigh

    • PhoenixV profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you so much for your comments about your father, Chris and your input and firsthand knowledge of the tests is very valuable. Feel free to tell us anything you can about your fathers in regards to his service to his country and anything else you would like to share, because it is greatly appreciated.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh ya I know this because my 83 year old father was there he has a card saying (my fathers name) has participated in OPERATION CROSSROADS ordered by the joint Cheifs of Staff to test the effect of the Atomic Bomb on navel vessels and conducted at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.

      JTF-1 Boat Pool (it says unit or ship under that)

      It also says his commander and signed by a vice admiral of the us navy commander joint task force ONE.

      There is also a seal stamped on I looks like a big red atom and says u.s. Army• science•u.s. Navy• joint task force one•

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Your post neglected to add that there was hundreds of navel soldiers on ships outside of the blast range, the navy months before asked people to join in a voluntary test, which they did not inform people until they were out there with a a-bomb dropped near them, even te boats these people was on got red hot from the radiation.

    • profile image


      8 years ago


      My father told me that there were three bombs that were detonated: two atomic bombs and one hydrogen bomb. His ship was a LSD, he also said they had no real ideal what was happening, his exact words to me, " it was a party boat, all we did was swim, we even invented suntan oil." I personally knew better, so I asked him,"how did you do that?" His exact words again,"we mixed iodine and cooking oil." I don't know why he didn't think that was odd, I said to my myself I bet that was part of the experiment, and he just didn't know. If those men knew what was happening they wouldn't of thought they invented suntan oil.

      Then what makes it even worse; when the bombs were detonated they let the men stay up on deck, and gave them a pair of black glasses, then they were instructed to close there eyes, put the glasses on, put forearm over eyes and wait. My dad said he literally could see through his arm, as if it was an ex ray; he also could actually see sound waves traveling through the air. He said "it was KooL."

      Not to mention the navy denied that there was such an experiment and denied the enlistees medical treatment. Until about 1998 a group of Army Divers were able to locate the sunken safe, which contained the list of every man who was part of the test.

      My father told me only five men were still alive that were on the ship. My father was murdered two years later. His money was never paid out by dowel or the navy. I would know I am the only living decedent of Al, whom he had after the testing was done.

      He also told me there was a young man,whoa father was apart of the experiment; he dropped dead one day, all I really remember is that he was about 23. My father said after that they decided to keep track of every generation, who was directly a part of operation crossroads.

      He also said that no matter where I moved the navy or govt, would always know where I am or my children and so on. The last thing he said is if I pay attetion, I will notice that every time I move or get a new job, I will see a military arms dept built, or I will just happen to meat someone who is a part of weapons through the military.

      I believe personally that the govt, kept all of the funding that was to be paid out, also Dowell chemical co. When I called there main office, I was told " we cannot tell you anything". Even though I told her that money judgment was mine, and if the funding was gone, I wanted to know how my money was uncountable for. I was hunt up on. Now I have hearing problem, my kids and Iall have asma like symptoms, I and my kids have swollen glands. I have had a wart like growht cut off omy leg, which had almost 2 inch potato looking growths growing in my leg.

      When I called to check on the biopsy, I will give you three guess what happened


    • TheManWithNoPants profile image


      8 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      This is excellent. I saw a documentary on this one time on the History channel. Those people who went back, became very sick for generations if I recall. Also, there was something about us hauling and storing our nuclear trash over there. It seems the U.S. paid these poor people some money to do this. Very sad. It's been quite a while, and my memory is faded on this. I'll go hit Google and fresh the old memory.

      Thanks for this well put together piece. thumbs up, useful, and awesome.


    • Pearldiver profile image

      Rob Welsh 

      8 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

      This was pure arrogance on the part of the US Government, with a complete and utter disregard to the residual effects of their 'testing' - hundreds were radiated and suffered terribly - though denied any compensation. Totally a merging cold war game that those of us who lived in the Pacific have always condemned.. Earnest Rutherford would have turned over in his grave given the thoughtlessness of these and other 'tests' - Thanks for reminding us why we made New Zealand Nuclear Free.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for letting know the names, dates and years that we experimented with the nuclear bombs. We see a lot of power being unleased on the world, in the amosphere. We need to have peace so that we don't ddestroy our world. Where did you get these slide presentation, they are magnificent!


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