U.S. Navy - A Brief History of Aircraft Carriers: Operation Crossroads

The Carriers header
A Brief History of U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers
Operation Crossroads

Sources: United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1970 [NAVAIR 00-80P-1]
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

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Atomic bomb explosion at Bikini Atoll July 1, 1946 - Operation Crossroads. Tests to determine the effects of atomic bombs on naval targets were conducted at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. In the first test, the bomb was dropped from a B-29 at 30,000 feet on ships anchored in the lagoon. Five sank outright and nine others were heavily damaged.

A shallow underwater burst on July 25 raised the number of ships sunk to 32. Among the ships in these tests were USS Saratoga (CV 3) and USS Independence (CV 22).

With the arrival of large numbers of Essex-class carriers, Saratoga was surplus to postwar requirements, and she was assigned to Operation Crossroads. She survived the first blast with only minor damage, but was mortally wounded by the second, an underwater blast which was detonated under a landing craft 500 yards from the carrier. Salvage efforts were prevented by radioactivity, and seven and one-half hours after the blast, with her funnel collapsed across her deck, Saratoga slipped beneath the surface of the lagoon. She was struck from the Navy list on 15 Aug. 1946.

Independence was placed within one-half mile of ground zero for the 1 July explosion. The veteran ship did not sink, however, and after taking part in the second explosion, was taken to Kwajalein and decommissioned 28 Aug. 1946. She was finally sunk in weapons tests off the coast of California 29 Jan. 1951.

Last Update: 15 June 2009