This presentation documents the testing of nuclear weapons for naval effects purposes by the United States from 1946 until 1962, as well as a short series of tests employing simulated nuclear explosions in the years 1964 and 1965. The initial test series named Operation CROSSROADS conducted in July 1946 established the basic template for all successive American test activities at the newly-established Pacific Proving Ground until the banning of atmospheric nuclear detonations as a consequence of the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty agreed between America, Britain, and the Soviet Union.
In exploring each of the test series involving naval effects analysis, particular attention is paid to the various modes of testing, the specific military objectives, namely the impact of atomic munitions upon both surface warships and submarines, the provision of necessary logistical support, the involvement of US military and civilian personnel, the results of the experiments and lessons learned, and the inherent dangers encountered: most especially exposure to high levels of radioactive contamination. In the course of the presentation, the progression from testing experimental devices to the proofing of pre-production and production warheads becomes readily apparent. Including similar operations undertaken by the British and the Soviets, ‘From ‘Crossroads’ to ‘Sailor Hat’ aims to compile a detailed account of America’s program to incorporate atomic munitions within the general scheme of naval operations in the Cold War world.
Presenter – Angus Britts
Angus is a qualified historian who has authored three books about military history, the third of which, Ikara: Australia’s Cold War Wonder Weapon, has been published on behalf of the Naval Historical Society of Australia. His principal areas of research involve the development of the ‘Singapore Strategy’ from 1921 – 1942, and the rise of airpower at sea during the same period. A volunteer with the Society, his other interest include politics, international relations, and the ongoing trials and tribulations of Australia’s national cricket and rugby teams. He is 57 years of age, and resides in Neutral Bay, Sydney.