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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Operation Crossroads: Bikini Atoll

 

Battleship Pennsylvania
Arthur Beaumont #11
Watercolor, 1946
Gift of the artist
88-169-K


USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) survived both atomic tests at Crossroads, a fitting testament to a battleship that had been at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Although suffering only minor fire damage, she was heavily contaminated and was scuttled off Kwajalein in 1948.

 

USS Pensacola Lists
Arthur Beaumont #9
Watercolor, 1946
Gift of the artist
88-169-I


Cruiser USS Pensacola (CA-23) was a sorry sight after test ABLE--with her stacks crumbled, a severe list, and her radar and communications array mangled. She suffered heavy contamination during test BAKER and, after unsuccessful attempts to decontaminate her, the cruiser was scuttled of the coast of Washington.

 

USS Skate July 5, 1946, Enyu Atoll
Arthur Beaumont #6
Watercolor, 1946
Gift of the artist
88-169-F



Submarine USS Skate (SS-305) looked bad after test ABLE, with her masts and antennas hopelessly bent and her superstructure buckled and torn. Despite appearances, however, her pressure hull was intact and the boat able to maneuver under her own power. Heavily contaminated by both bombs, she was brought back to California for study and then scuttled in 1948.

 

The Baker Test

 

Battleship Arkansas Being Tossed in Giant Pillar
Grant Powers #4
Watercolor, 1946
88-181-D

 


Unlike ABLE's atmospheric explosion, BAKER's detonation started with a spray dome that appeared at the underwater site. Owing to the denser nature of water, which quickly cooled the explosion, the initial fireball did not grow as large as ABLE's. The spray dome broke the surface near USS Arkansas (BB-33) and she sank quite suddenly.

 

Baker Puff Ball
Charles Bittinger #6
Oil on canvas board, 1946
Gift of the artist
95-129-F


When the hot gasses from the explosion broke the surface they instantly created a "puff ball" of water vapor. It was created by water rushing into the space left by the fireball gasses as they surged into the sky.

 

Plus 2 Seconds
Grant Powers #18
Watercolor, 1946
88-181-R

 

As the hot gasses moved outward, they pulled a hollow water column--made up of millions of gallons of water--up into the sky.

 



Plus 5 Seconds
Grant Powers #11
Watercolor, 1946
88-181-K

 

A view of the cloud as seen from a B-29 observer plane. Note the ripple effect caused by the enormous tidal wave resulting from the blast.

 

Plus 15 Seconds
Grant Powers #2
Watercolor, 1946
88-181-B

 

The column of water begins to spill out of the top of the condensation cloud.

 

 

 

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01 August 2001