Broken Arrow: Feds Join Hunt for Lost H-Bomb

September 29, 2004 - Scientists from the Pentagon and the Department of Energy's national labs have joined the search for the hydrogen bomb lost in an Cold War era "broken arrow" incident on February 5, 1958 off the Georgia coast. The scientists met Wednesday with retired Air Force Lt. Col. Derek Duke who reported in July finding a large underwater object that emitted high levels of radioactivity. The object, believed to the Mark 15 Mod 0 H-bomb lost during the collision of a B-47 bomber and an F-86 fighter, was located in the Wassaw Sound off Tybee Island. The 7,600 pound, 12 foot long thermonuclear weapon containing uranium and 400 pounds of high explosives was jettisoned after the damaged bomber failed in 3 attempts by the crew to land at nearby Hunter Air Force base with the bomb onboard. The Air Force insists depite contradictory evidence that the weapon's plutonium trigger was not present during the simulated combat mission, leaving the weapon unarmed.

All previous attempts to locate the H-bomb have failed and the Air Force concluded in an April 2001 report that it was in the best interest of the public and the environment to leave the bomb in its resting place, presumed to be beneath 5 to 15 feet of seabed mud. The report also estimated costs of $5 million to $21 million for recovery efforts if the bomb were to be located.

According to Greenpeace there are an estimated 50 US and Soviet nuclear warheads still lying unrecovered on the bottom of the world's oceans. The US acknowledges 11 nuclear bombs still outstanding from Cold War "broken arrow" incidents.

Read Edward Welsh's August 21, 2001 "Times of London" article: There's an H-bomb in Our Swamp

View Donald Ernst's colorful site for a dizzying collection of reports and related links to the "Tybee Island Bomb" saga.

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