Ghost Fleet: The Sunken Ships of Bikini Atoll

Ghost Fleet: The Sunken Ships of Bikini Atoll

by James P. Delgado
     
 

In July 1946 a fleet of 242 ships, among them some of the most famous of World War II, assembled within the Lagoon of Bikini Atoll, 4,500 miles from San Francisco. There, in a massive military effort dubbed "Operation Crossroads," thousands of scientists and U.S. military personnel gathered to assess the atomic bomb's effect on warships in the world's first nuclear… See more details below

Overview

In July 1946 a fleet of 242 ships, among them some of the most famous of World War II, assembled within the Lagoon of Bikini Atoll, 4,500 miles from San Francisco. There, in a massive military effort dubbed "Operation Crossroads," thousands of scientists and U.S. military personnel gathered to assess the atomic bomb's effect on warships in the world's first nuclear weapons tests. After evacuating 167 islanders and carefully positioning the ships - their cargo included airplanes, tanks, live animals, and test equipment - the United States detonated two atomic bombs, sinking 22 ships and hopelessly irradiating 73 others. Four decades later, in 1989, a highly trained team of underwater archaeologists returned to Bikini to evaluate the ships as historic and archaeological sites and as potential diving attractions. In Ghost Fleet, author James Delgado, a member of that team, offers a fascinating account of Operation Crossroads and the forgotten remains that have turned Bikini's lagoon into a vast underwater ghost town. Diving in waters 180 feet deep, surrounded by unexploded bombs, sharks, and residual radiation, the archaeologists explored the ships, some shattered hulks, others bent and twisted by the force of the blasts. Delgado weaves a compelling tale - of the events of 1946, of coming of age in the shadow of the bomb, of being face to face with an untouched nuclear testing ground. Like the deserted homes and crumbling concrete bunkers that remain on the atoll itself, the ghost fleet of Operation Crossroads is an archaeological legacy from the beginning of the atomic age.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
In 1946, the United States began a series of nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll to determine the impact of atomic bombs on armored naval ships. Amid much fanfare, the military assembled a fleet of surplus ships from World War II, carefully mooring them in the lagoon, and exploded nuclear bombs both in the air and under the water. Delgado, a noted marine archaeologist with the National Park Service, visited Bikini in the late 1980s to explore and document the condition of the sunken ships. His work is more than an archaeological study; it is the history of the nuclear age. Meticulously researched, it chronicles the development of the bomb, its deployment in Japan, the preparations for the tests, the attempted clean-up afterward, and the beginning of the Cold War. Many of the photographs and diagrams were first published by the National Park Service in a study entitled The Archaeology of the Atomic Bomb (1991). A good purchase for public and academic libraries.John Kenny, San Francisco P.L.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780824818647
Publisher:
University of Hawaii Press, The
Publication date:
10/28/1996
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
8.26(w) x 9.52(h) x 0.73(d)

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