Few things are more terrifying than total annihilation, and knowing that there may be a lost nuclear bomb off the Georgia coast is enough to keep you awake at night. How did it get there? How long has it been there?
Find out in this episode of Stories, Secrets and Sagas.
Interesting Facts About The Lost Nuclear Bomb
1The bomb was a Mark 15 nuclear bomb weighing 7,600 pounds.
2The presumed location of the bomb is somewhere off Tybee Island GA in Wassaw Sound.
3Because he safely jettisoned the bomb and then landed the critically damaged aircraft safely at nearby Hunter Army Airfield, Colonel Howard Richardson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
4The Air Force Nuclear Weapons and Counterproliferation Agency performed a study in 2001. The study determined that the bomb was irrecoverable and best left alone.
5Why wasn’t there more outrage over not locating this nuclear bomb? Well, about a month after the search began, a second bomb was accidentally dropped near Florence SC. It was armed with conventional explosives that were detonated.
Read the Transcript of This Stories, Secrets & Sagas Episode
Not long after World War II ended, the Cold War began. Threats were made, battle lines drawn and Americans were under constant fear of nuclear war. Little did many people know that a nuclear explosion almost happened right off the coast of Georgia…and it wasn’t from the Russians!
When we watch TV reruns from the 1950s of Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, The Honeymooners and others we see a simple and overall happy world. But lurking in the international shadows was a real threat of total devastation from nuclear war with Russia.
It was a time for preparation. Preparation in the hopes that if we had some type of notice, we could duck and cover and hopefully survive nuclear war. Little did we know that if we were close enough to see an explosion there would be no survival, only incineration dust shadows of where we once stood.
And that brings us back to the nuclear explosion that almost happened off the Georgia coast.
The night of February 5th, 1958 was just another training exercise for Colonel Howard Richardson and the crew of a B-47 bomber from Homestead Air Force Base. They were simulating an actual bomb run with a 7,600-pound nuclear bomb in their payload.
Suddenly, at 2am, another jet, an F-86, smashed into the bomber. As the bomber plummeted 18,000 feet Richardson knew he had to act fast. With the payload he was carrying, a safe landing would be extremely dangerous. He had to eject the bomb.
Surely, if the bomb exploded in the ocean, it would be better than at another air force base on land nearby. The crew requested permission, and it was granted. The bomb was dropped from 7,200 feet somewhere off the coast of Tybee Island. The crew watched for an explosion, and luckily for residents of Tybee Island and the Georgia coast, there was none.
The crew managed to land the plane at nearby Hunter Army Airfield without incident and to this day, the bomb has never been found.
Since the event, some sources describe the bomb as a fully functional nuclear weapon. Others, like the U.S. Air Force, maintain that the nuclear capsule had been removed before the flight.
Whatever the case, if the bomb were live and had exploded, the possible blast effects would have included a fireball with a radius of 1.2 miles and thermal radiation causing third degree burns for ten times that distance.
Just another frightening tale from Stories, Secrets & Sagas.
While no one knows the exact location of the nuclear bomb, you can visit popular tourist location, Tybee Island, GA!