Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Lost: One 7,600 pound hydrogen bomb. Answers to "Sparky."

There is a Mark-15 nuclear bomb off the coast of Georgia, somewhere out in Wassaw Sound. The bomb contains 400 pounds of explosives, along with uranium and possibly plutonium material. It is 100 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Despite three major search attempts, it has defied retrieval for more than half a century.

Back in 1958, a B-47 bomber took off from Florida on a secret training mission. The plane was piloted by Colonel Howard Richardon, and the flight was to serve as a test run for hypothetical long-range bombings against Russia. In an effort to make the simulation as real as possible, it was decided that the plane would carry a live nuclear weapon.

All went along normally until Richardson's bomber collided with an F-86 above the border between Georgia and North Carolina. The bomber sustained critical damage; its engine almost being torn off. While the pilot from the F-86 safely ejected from his wrecked aircraft, Richardson and his co-pilot didn't have that option on account of the explosive cargo they were carrying. An attempt at a crash landing might've resulted in a catastrophic accidental detonation. With no other choice, Richardson decided to jettison it. Flying low, he dropped the bomb in the swamps near Tybee Island and safely landed at Hunter Army Air Field. Richardson was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Naturally, dropping a H-Bomb in American waters was a public relations disaster for the military, so initial reports withheld important details of the event, insisting that only a "part" of a bomb had been dropped. As their search attempts yielded nothing, they gradually acknowledged that a complete weapon had been lost, and it has been only recently revealed that this bomb was live. The pentagon continues to insist that a detonation would be impossible, but these claims have been contradicted by other military officials. Meanwhile, Georgian residents are understandably wary about their unwanted nuclear neighbor.

Would you like to know more?
-Read this BBC article
-"There's an H-Bomb in Our Swamp"

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