National Park Service
The Archeology of the Atomic Bomb
A Submerged Cultural Resources Assessment of the Sunken Fleet of Operation Crossroads at Bikini and Kwajalein Atoll Lagoons
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Foremost, we wish to thank the Bikini Council for inviting the National Park Service (NPS) to work at Bikini.

Jonathan Weisgall, attorney for the Bikinians, has conducted considerable research on Bikini; his voluminous files made research a much easier task. We are grateful for his and his research associate Alison MacDonald's hard work. Jack Niedenthal served as liaison for the Bikini Council during the period NPS operations took place.

William Livingston and Lee McEachern are preparing a documentary on Bikini for ABC television. Lee shared his research, including footage of the tests that provided a clearer understanding of the effects of the blast on Saratoga.

The field operations at Bikini Atoll were in part funded by the United States Department of Energy (DOE), Pacific Area Support Office, J. H. Dryden, Director. Holmes and Narver, Inc., DOE's contractors and managers of the Bikini Field Station, coordinated and hosted the National Park Service (NPS) team. Kent Hiner, Project Manager; Dr. Catherine Courtney, Project Coordinator; John "Alan" Brown, Holmes and Narver representative on Kwajalein, and his assistant Lance Yamaguchi tackled and ultimately removed every obstacle, from transporting equipment to arranging flights and making arrangements. In the field, the staff of the Bikini Field Station provided one of the most comfortable working environments the team has ever had. Richard Giles, the station manager, Stephen Notarianni, Eric Hanson, Wayne Olival, Edward Maddison, John Lajuan, Roger Joel, Thompson Johnson, Harry Nashon, Wilma Riklon, and Kane Janer provided invaluable assistance. The captain and crew of the DOE research vessel G. W. Pierce provided logistical support which was critical to the success of the project.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for International and Territorial Affairs supported the project; we particularly wish to thank Larry Morgan of the Assistant Secretary's office. In the National Park Service, present Director James M. Ridenour, former Director William Penn Mott, Southwest Regional Office Director John Cook, Western Regional Director Stan Albright, Associate Director Jerry L. Rogers, Associate Director Rick Smith, Pacific Area Director Bryan Harry, Deputy Associate Director Rowland T. Bowers, Chief Anthropologist Doug Scovill, and Chief Historian Edwin C. Bearss lent their support and released the team for work at Bikini.

The United States Navy, through the auspices of the Supervisor of Salvage and Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU 1), provided logistical support. Help was provided by the Commander-In-Chief, Pacific Fleet; by Capt. Dave McCampbell, commander of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One; and by Lt. Dave Rattay, commander of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit One, Detachment 63, at Pearl Harbor, as well as by the men of MDSU 1 and EOD Mobile Unit One in locating the target ships, buoying them, safing ordnance, and providing detailed coverage of the ships through dive observations and remote operated vehicle surveys.

The issue of radiation was a concern for the team. Dr. W. L. (Bill) Robison of the University of California, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, provided data on radiation levels at Bikini, as well as an appendix to this report. Jim Sprinkle, a lab specialist in radiation monitoring and detection, also provided a personal assessment of the radiation hazards--an independent source second opinion--to project director Lenihan. Cdr. Roger Chatham, Director of the U.S. Navy's Nuclear Survivability Program at the Pentagon also provided an assessment and opinion of the radiation hazards associated with the Crossroads ships.

Considerable information about Operation Crossroads and the ships involved in the tests was provided by a number of persons. Informative discussions were held with several staff members of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Roger Meade, Historian and Archivist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory provided archival sources, photographs, and helped us contact Los Alamos veterans of Operation Crossroads. Interviews with Crossroads participants Robert W. "Bob" Henderson, Albuquerque, New Mexico, the chief engineer of the Los Alamos Group at Crossroads; Leon D. Smith, also of Albuquerque, the "Able" weaponeer; and Woody P. Swancutt of San Antonio, Texas, the pilot of "Dave's Dream," were very helpful in answering questions not addressed by the written record.

The generosity of Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts, particularly Mark Newton, is especially appreciated. Mr. Newton provided historical references, photographs, and technical manuals for radar, ordnance, and armament and was present in spirit at Bikini as a valued member of the team. Russell Booth, manager of USS Pampanito (SS-383) in San Francisco, California, provided information on Mark 13 torpedoes and shipboard radar systems and gave an informative tour of his submarine that answered many questions about Apogon and Pilotfish. B. J. Dorman, Museum Director, and Jeffrey L. Crawford, Assistant Museum Director for the Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association, provided material on Pilotfish, Parche, Balao-class submarines, JP sonar, and 20 and 40mm weapons, as well as an informative tour of USS Bowfin (SS-287) in Honolulu, Hawaii. Sue Moss and Carolyn Scheffer of the Texas Department of Parks, Fish, and Wildlife, provided a tour of USS Texas while the battleship was in the drydock in the Todd Shipyard in Galveston, Texas. That tour was invaluable in providing a better understanding of Arkansas. Mark Pinsel provided a tour of USS Cabot (CVL-28) in New Orleans, Louisiana, that served as an excellent orientation of carrier operations and characteristics. Ironically, Cabot, sole survivor of the Independence-class carriers, shares a common origin with Saratoga--both were built at the same yard, and more importantly, were carriers converted from cruiser hulls. Timothy Rizzuto, curator of USS Kidd (DD-661) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, provided a tour of his destroyer that greatly assisted our understanding Anderson and Lamson; among the bonuses of the tour was a greasy but informative foray into the Mark 37 director atop the bridge. John Smith, Vice President of Merchant Marine Veterans of WWII, Inc., gave an excellent tour of SS Lane Victory in San Pedro, California, that helped us better understand Gilliam and Carlisle. Dennis Ditmanson, Superintendent, White Sands National Monument, Nancy S. Dumas, Public Affairs Officer, and Robert J. Burton, Archaeologist, White Sands Missile Range, provided a tour of Trinity Site that proved to be very helpful in understanding the development of the bomb and early test instrumentation.

Linda Jackman of the Navy's Naval Sea System Command's Shipbuilding Support Office provided a listing of the Crossroads ships and their fates as well as other information. The staff of the Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C., were as usual a tremendous help; among those who provided support and assistance were John Reilly of the Ships History Branch, Mike Walker in Operational Archives, and Charles Haberlein, the photographic archivist in the Curatorial Branch. Henry Vadnais, the Navy's Chief Curator, helped track down items removed from the ships prior to the tests, such as Saratoga's bell and Lamson's homeward bound pennant, which is on display in the Navy Memorial Museum at the Washington Navy Yard. Paul Stillwell at the United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland, provided access to oral histories that included reminiscences of Operation Crossroads. Paul also provided the address of Capt. Dick Laning, former Commanding Officer of Pilotfish, who put us in touch with the other skippers of the target submarines at Bikini. Joe Fetherston, one of Saratoga's ship's photographers, loaned his postwar "mugbook" and history of Saratoga and several original photographs of Sara's trying hours off Iwo Jima. Roy Alton, president of the USS Arkansas (BB-33) Association, loaned his "mugbook" and arranged for a meeting with Arkansas' crew at the ship's fourth annual reunion. Kevin Foster, formerly with the National Maritime Initiative, provided considerable information on the tests and faxed needed documents to the team in the Pacific.

Lawrence E. Wilson, Research Technician at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, identified three of the aircraft in the hangar of USS Saratoga as Helldivers before the BuAer report was located and provided reference materials on the SB2C/SBF Helldiver for this report. Norman Polmar read the text, made many critical suggestions, and provided information from his files. This report also was reviewed by Betty Perkins and Roger Meade of LANL. Their assistance and review is appreciated.

Linda Cullen of the U.S. Naval Institute opened her photographic files on the Crossroads ships and tests. The staff at the Philadelphia Maritime Museum, particularly curator Jane E. Allen and librarian Ann Wilcox, provided access to the photographic archives of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, which assisted the task of assessing Saratoga and Arkansas, both products of that shipyard. Steve Hailer, archivist at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, directed our attention to the recently processed San Francisco Call-Bulletin photographic archives, which included a few dozen invaluable views of Saratoga, including photographs of the ship being prepared for the tests and underway to Bikini. Bruce McElfresh and Alice Hall, National Geographic Society, are gratefully thanked for arranging underwater photography by Bill Curtsinger for National Geographic in August 1990. Mr. Curtsinger is thanked for the use of selected photos in this report.

The staffs of the following organizations and institutions are also here acknowledged: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico; Military History Branch and Still Pictures Branch, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.; Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii; J. Porter Shaw Library, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, San Francisco; USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii; War in the Pacific National Historical Park, Agana, Guam; U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland; United States Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis; National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution; Philadelphia Maritime Museum.

Robbyn Jackson of the NPS Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, redrafted the Able and Baker arrays and plotted and drafted the sunken ship position chart from data supplied by the U.S. Navy. Tom Freeman granted permission, with all rights reserved, to publish his painting of Saratoga on the bottom. The painting was first published in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings in October 1990.

Drafts of this document were prepared by the National Maritime Initiative with the assistance of Fran Day of the Submerged Cultural Resources Unit. Design, layout, and final production of the camera-ready text was undertaken by J. Candace Clifford of the National Maritime Initiative staff.

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Last Updated: 22-Sep-2008